Updated Review | A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

A Song Below WaterTitle: A Song Below Water (A Song Below Water #1)

Author: Bethany C. Morrow

Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3.5 Stars)

Publisher: Tor Teen

Release Date: June 2, 2020

“I’m not a monster because I live in a world that gives me impossible choices.”

I have to say, I am really happy I gave this story a second chance, because there ‘s so much great stuff to take from it now that I was in the right headspace to actually read it, or rather listen to it. If you’re like me and had trouble getting into the story, I recommend the audiobook 100%.

A Song Below Water is a breathtakingly relevant story that manages to fuse reality and fantasy in compelling ways to examine race and misogynoir through the lens of a young Siren living in Portland, keeping her secret and fighting for the right to exist alongside everyone else.

Things I Liked
Effie and Tavia’s relationship is one of the most earnest and beautiful relationships I’ve come across this year. My sister is the person closest to me in the world, so I always look for sister relationships, and though not related by blood, Effie and Tavia’s close bond, devotion, and unyielding protection is the one of the closest I’ve seen that truly represents the unconditional love you can have for your sibling. It was inspiring and comforting the level of care and trust the two girls share.

I think the story did a really great job tackling some very important discussions, and using the fantastical elements in a very clever way to highlight them, especially the collars forced onto Sirens to silence their voices and how Black women are routinely silenced and overlooked by society. I also thought the body autonomy discussions were very well done, and a little less expected going in but greatly appreciated.

Things I Didn’t Like
This is a probably a more personal issue because world building is one of my favorite parts of fantastical stories, but I thought there was little to none here. While I readily accept the contemporary setting and don’t really need the world building there, some of the magical creatures, their histories and customs, and how they relate to each other and society at large was a little lost on me.

I also thought the story had a lack of satisfying resolutions. I’m totally okay with a story having an open ending and not tying up all the loose ends, especially when It’s the first in a series (but book 2 is a companion that follows my least favorite character so who knows what answers – if any- we’ll get), but I don’t think Tavia or Effie got much time to process or show their emotional or mental states after the big reveals at the end of the book and that was a little disappointing. The resolutions all happened a little quickly and I just wanted to spend some more time with them to process and live in the moment with them.

While Tavia and Effie’s relationship is a God-Tier standout, individually no character really stood out to me. Most of the background characters kinda blended together. This was a case where the relationships > individuals.

A Song Below Water is a book I couldn’t put down. I finished the entire thing in just over a day and I’m happy to say this time around I could appreciate the story for what it is – a contemporary fantasy with incredibly timely commentary on race and gender politics. I do think going in knowing what to expect the second time around really helped me and I definitely think the audiobook is the way to go.


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