A Song Below Water is a magical realism, young-adult novel about play-sisters Tavia and Effie in Portland, Oregon. Tavia is a siren, but must keep that a secret from everyone except her family because they are vilified in society. A high profile siren murder trial forces her to reckon with how she can keep her secret and still be her full self. Effie is most comfortable in the water and has followed in her late mother’s footsteps as a mermaid performer at the Renaissance Faire. She has come to live with Tavia’s family after “The Incident”, but that seems to have followed her to her new home.
Don’t let the words “magical realism” scare you away from reading this if you aren’t a fantasy type of person. The parallels between how sirens are treated in this book and the silencing of Black women in modern times (especially in respect to the Black Lives Movement) are spot on. There are other magical characters, too, but Morrow has so seamlessly integrated them into the story that it all seems plausible. (The gargoyle is my favorite.)
By far, the best thing about this book is the friendship between Tavia and Effie. Their devotion, love, and support for each other drives the story throughout, especially their selflessness. I’m sure it’s been said in almost every review, but it’s truly Black Girl Magic. I highly recommend for teenagers and adults alike.
Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tor Teen in exchange for my honest review.