Own Voices: Island Seas by V.E. Wilchcombe

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This is really more of a novella than a full-sized novel. It was 110 pages and reads in just one sitting as long as you’ve got an hour or so to spare.

A young boy growing up in the Bahamas gets into a fight with his stepmother. It’s nothing new, they have been butting heads ever since she came to live with him and his father after his mother ‘disappeared’. It’s unknown if she died or if she ran off but either way, Michael was left alone with his father and he’s bitter. He decides to run off and go camping on the Lightning Cay, what he doesn’t know is that there’s a dangerous storm brewing, and it could very easily kill him.

Michael reads like a very young character because he is. He’s stubborn, emotional, impulsive, and not at all the kind of person to think things through. He likes to play pranks, hang out with friends, and ignore his school work.

This is an Earth that’s very close to our own, it’s based around the ’40s or ’50s in the Bahamas and felt very low fantasy at first. I read the “about the author” section in the back of the book and it’s based on a legend she grew up with as a kid. A child-mermaid washed ashore and then mysteriously disappears overnight. She wrote the story based on that and so there are ghosts and mermaids and the supernatural that appear later in the book.

The overall tone and feel to this was very mysterious storyteller-esque, I think that was created by using dialogue sparsely with the majority of the story being told through the narrative. The prose was not difficult, it created nice imagery and sensory immersion but was also fairly straight forward in its approach making for fast reading. I found that at times it felt very professional and heartfelt. However, there was an abundance of grammar and spelling errors that pulled the writing score down. This needs a copy edit pretty badly, but that didn’t take too much away from it.

I feel like this was aimed at a younger readers and that I likely was not the ideal audience. That said it was a fun short story that would be nice for kids. It’s probably the first time I’ve encountered a black mermaid in a book.

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