Review: Sailor Twain: or: The Mermaid in the Hudson by Mark Siegel

Publisher: First Second
How did I get this book: ARC from publisher
Release date: Out now

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.

sailortwainA mysterious and beguiling love story with elements of Poe, Twain, Hemingway, and Greek mythology, drawn in moody black-and-white charcoal, Sailor Twain is a study in romance, atmosphere, and suspense.

*Blurb taken from Goodreads*

I’m not a regular reader of graphic novels; in fact I’ve only reviewed one other on the blog. So I want to apologise for this choppy review. When the postman delivered Sailor Twain, the wonderful cover immediately caught my attention. Sailor Twain is a story about mythology, love, entrapment and politics situated on the Hudson River, New York. I loved that the artwork in a charcoal-type effect; it was a perfect match to the dark and almost depressive tone to the story. The artwork almost looks cartoonish at times, especially the big eyes of Captain Twain. I’m not sure if that’s supposed to represent vulnerability or perhaps a touch of naievity. There’s many images of the dark and grisly Hudson River, and many of the images there’s rain or storms brewing which added to the tense atmosphere.

The story is told in parts. One of the main characters is Captain Twain who ran a steamboat. The owner of the boat mysteriously disappeared, which left his feckless and cad of a brother, Lafayette, in charge. After a mermaid washed onboard the ship, Twain kept her hidden inside his cabin, healing her and making sure that no harm came to her. It did take me a while to get into the story; I admit it wasn’t until halfway that I was able to enjoy the book because I was unused to the layout of a graphic novel, and that onus is on me. While the story covers a lot of topics, albeit briefly, I just got confused on where it was heading, especially towards the end. A lot of the story shows Lafayette seducing women which pertains to him finding seven loves which ties into the story of the mermaid.

Twain’s character becomes enamored of the mermaid, despite the fact he’s married to Pearl, who has this unknown illness that confines her to a wheelchair. It’s hinted at that Twain knows that he shouldn’t be feeling anything for this beautiful mermaid, but he can’t help but be drawn to her. It’s shown that Twain does love his wife, but the most entranced he gets by the mermaid, the more he forgets that he is married. The story is told in parts where Lafayette’s story is finally revealed where everything he does was done with a purpose in mind. One thing that really bugged me in this story and art is that there’s a lot of women nudity but no men?

Anyways, the story takes a turn that’s much darker and delves into mythology and a battle of the sea. I did enjoy this dark and tragic graphic novel. But don’t be looking for a HEA, my fellow romance lovers! Sailor Twain is not something I would usually read but the imagery and story did captivate me.

I give it a B-

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