Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel
Description: One hundred years ago. On the foggy Hudson River, a riverboat captain rescues an injured mermaid from the waters of the busiest port in the United States. A wildly popular—and notoriously reclusive—author makes a public debut. A French nobleman seeks a remedy for a curse. As three lives twine together and race to an unexpected collision, the mystery of the Mermaid of the Hudson deepens.
Stats: Adult Graphic Novel, 399 pages, First published by First Second, October 2012.
My Rating: 4 Stars
I should start by saying, to those who are interested in checking out the first five chapters you can read them online on the Sailor Twain website. If you're not interested in doing any reading then you can also check out a two minute Sailor Twain Author Video about the book. It includes a preview of the art and an introduction to the story straight from the author.
Now, on with the review!
Sailor Twain is the closest I've come to reading folklore in a very long time. It's the late 1800's and we are aboard a steamship on the enchanting Hudson river. This is the story of Captain Twain and his unfortunate encounter of the mermaid variety.
The art is as captivating as the story with drawings so full of texture and soft details that you can almost feel it through the paper. Although Sailor Twain is a good 400 pages I ate it all up in just a few hours. The book is full of subjects that can be challenging to write well: History, seafaring, and mermaids. Siegel however, knew what he was doing with this story.
This is a compelling long narrative in graphic novel form about what happens when the sea and the surface mingle with an ancient magic curse. All she wants is freedom, all he wants is his brother, all anyone wants is love. Or sex. Or both. And that is where our story has so many twists and turns as a mystery unfolds there's definitely some magic in the water.
I would love to say more about what I enjoyed about the plot, but so much of it relies on it unfolding before you that I wouldn't want to give anything away. This also means that I can't talk about the things I didn't necessarily like because it would be way too much for me to give away. I'm in a bit of a catch. Some twist were better then others, but things really ramp up for the last half of the book. This is all thanks to the characters. They were varied and the historical tint that made the characters feel truly authentic.
One thing I can say that is spoiler free is expect to see boobies. The women in this are so well drawn, I love their dresses when they're fully clothed, but almost every single one ends up topless at some point. There's some male nudity as well, but not nearly enough to balance it out. If that's the sort of thing you don't want to see, then this probably isn't for you.
The mythology is amazing. As I mentioned earlier it has more of a folklore tone then just straight up fantasy. I could imagine this being true, in the same way that I grew up believing I was swimming with my water wings alongside Ogopogo the sea monster in Okanagan Lake. I love the way that the mermaid is both fantastic and yet with a overwhelming dark side. It all breathed with life.
This is a very unique story and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Those who have an interest in mermaids or even just folklore and historical fairytales will most likely enjoy this just as much as I have.