The ocean is uncontrollable and dangerous. But to the sirens who swim the warm island waters, it’s a home more than worth protecting from the humans and their steam-propelled ships. Between their hypnotic voices and the strength of their powerful tails, sirens have little to fear.
That is, until the ruthless pirate captain, Kian, creates a device to cancel out their songs.
Perle was the first siren captured, and while all since have either been sold or killed, Kian still keeps them prisoner. Though their song is muted and their tail paralyzed, Perle’s hope for escape rekindles as another pirating vessel seizes Kian’s ship. This new captain seems different, with his brilliant smile and his promises that Kian will never again be Perle’s master. But he’s still a human, and a captor in his own way. The compassion he and his rag-tag human family show can’t be sincere… or can it?
Soon it becomes clear that Kian will hunt Perle relentlessly, taking down any siren in her path. As the tides turn, Perle must decide whether to run from Kian forever, or ride the forming wave into battle, hoping their newfound human companions will fight with them.
This adult fantasy novel featuring an nonbinary disabled protagonist is a voyage of laughter and danger where friendships and love abound and sirens are sure to steal—or eat—your heart.
Trigger warnings: mild gore due to carnivorous sirens and sensations of drowning.
Let me start by saying I really loved this book. In Our Bloody Pearl, Bryn has built a fascinating, terrifying world, where bloodthirsty is a general state of being. The waters are populated with sirens, until Captain Kian creates a device to block out their songs. Kian captures Perle, and when we start the book, Perle is trapped, unable to even consider escape, especially as every siren who approaches is at risk from Kian and her crew. Until another pirating vessel captures Kian’s ship. Kian escapes, but Perle finds themself under a new captain, one who promises they will never again be at Kian’s mercy.
Perle mistrusts all humans, but slowly they open up, realising they will need the help of this new captain and his pod if she’s ever going to swim in the sea again.
Perle is an absolutely brilliant POV character, and Bryn does excellent work at conveying everything precisely through their eyes. Their way of parsing out the world is really intriguing, as they come to grips with human terminology, and Perle and Dejean work out their own language and way of communicating. I really liked the interactions between them, and the way their relationship development is woven in with Perle’s own character arc, as they realise the ongoing battle with sirens and humans come from a misunderstanding.
When these new pirates try to move Perle from the ship, it becomes clear their tail is damaged beyond repair, leaving Perle unable to return to the sea they love so much. The humans work out ways to assist Perle, and I really adored this aspect. There’s a strong sense of found family here, and each character really stands on their own. Perle comes to call them their ‘pod’, and it feels very fitting, as the characters gel well together and really look out for each other, even while getting on each other’s nerves or making mistakes, as all families do.
Although Perle has their own internal feelings about their tail, it’s not reflected in the others. It’s conveyed that sirens have their own way of dealing with members of their pod who can’t fully perform the duties, but the humans don’t think any lesser of Perle for what’s happened to them. They, instead, look for ways to help Perle, and comfort them, and Perle comes to realise changes need to be made to the world for all of them, and changing the world so they can thrive will help others do the same.
Perle really grows as a character, exposed to a different side of humanity than they faced under Kian. The book is utterly gripping, really difficult to put down, constantly wanting to see what happens to these characters and how they handle the difficulties that come their way. Perle has a really strong protective streak, but eventually realises it’s okay for others to feel protective over them, too.
It’s a wonderful, LGBT friendly, found family tale with a nonbinary, disabled siren as a protagonist, and all the elements that went into this one really strengthened it overall. An excellent book, and one that now comes highly recommended from me.
About the Author
D.N. Bryn began writing short stories in middle school and has yet to stop. They received their bachelors degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UCSD, and enjoy a day job involving respiratory disease research. They bring their love for animals, science, and mythology into all their writing, and are passionate about creating inclusive worlds where a diverse array of characters can go on grand adventures without being hindered by social misconceptions based on their appearance, sexuality, or gender.
I received this book to read and review as part of the 2021 BBNYA competition and the BBNYA tours organised by the TWR Tour team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.
BBNYA is a yearly competition where Book Bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website http://www.bbnya.com or twitter @bbnya_official.
The sign-ups will soon be open for the 2022 BBNYA competition, be it for authors to enter their books, or for bloggers wanting to be part of the new panel, so keep your eyes peeled!!