About the Book
Perspective: 1st person POV
Publication Date: March 9, 2021
Format: eBook – Netgalley ARC
Length: 368 pages
TW/CW: parent death, sibling death, child death, infant death, death of a loved one, parental abandonment, abuse, torture, suicide and suicidal thoughts, incest, forced marriage, violence, gore, sacrifice, murder, imprisonment
Long ago Miren O’Malley’s family prospered due to a deal struck with the Mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. But for many years the family have been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren’s grandmother is determined to restore their glory, even at the price of Miren’s freedom.
A spellbinding tale of dark family secrets, magic and witches, and creatures of myth and the sea; of strong women and the men who seek to control them.
Rating: 4/5 stars
While I agree with other reviewers that this book was not what I expected, I still thoroughly enjoyed it. 1st person POV is usually hit or miss for me, and in this case A.G. Slatter nailed it. I absolutely loved Miren’s character and the opportunity to experience the story through her eyes. I would categorize her as a morally gray character, but one whose choices I understood and whom I saw as a kind-hearted young woman striving to do what was right.
I would describe this book as both “dark” and “gothic”, but otherwise its description does not do it justice. The synopsis above I copied from Goodreads only describes the first third of the book, perhaps even less. While Miren’s grandmother provides the catalyst for the story, there is so much more beneath the surface of this tale (pun intended) that isn’t mentioned in the description. Because of this, I’d encourage you to pick it up so that you can see just how well the layers are built upon the information provided upfront. AtMB is very much a character-driven story, and each new twist and turn only enhances the story further as Miren’s choices propel the plot forward.
This book involves magic, but it isn’t nearly as important as the family legacies, myths, and creatures that make up Miren’s world. Her backstory and relationships within her family hold an otherworldly essence of their own, especially given the folklore passed down through the generations. In addition, Miren encounters various sea creatures along her journey that Slatter incorporated into the story in unique ways. And yes, this book has its gruesome and unpleasant moments, but I couldn’t help remaining hopeful as Miren sought to unravel mysteries of the past while fighting to create a future of her own.
I would have liked to see some of the side characters fleshed out or incorporated more, from the travelling troupe of performers to Brigid and even to the green-eyed man. I’m also a huge sucker for romance, so I would have liked for Slatter to dive deeper into Miren’s relationship with Jed. Lastly, I wish the climax and the downfall of the villains could have been slightly more drawn out and dramatic. That being said, this book still has a great cast of side characters both good and evil, and each one was woven in well to fit their part in the story.
In the end, I truly enjoyed this book and how I found myself looking forward to reading it before bed. Although it’s a standalone, I will likely pick it up again in the future and will also be on the lookout for A.G. Slatter’s future novels, starting with Morwood coming in 2022.
Thank you to Titan Books via Netgalley for providing me with an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
About the Author
Angela Slatter has won a World Fantasy Award, a British Fantasy Award, a Ditmar, an Australian Shadows Award and six Aurealis Awards for her short stories. She has an MA and a PhD in Creative Writing, is a graduate of Clarion South 2009 and the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop 2006. Angela’s short stories have appeared in many Best Of anthologies, and her work has been translated into many languages. She teaches creative writing and lives in Brisbane, Australia.
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