The ocean is uncontrollable and dangerous. But to the sirens who swim the warm island waters, it’s a home more than worth protecting from the humans and their steam-propelled ships. Between their hypnotic voices and the strength of their powerful tails, sirens have little to fear.
That is, until the ruthless pirate captain, Kian, creates a device to cancel out their songs.
Perle was the first siren captured, and while all since have either been sold or killed, Kian still keeps them prisoner. Though their song is muted and their tail paralyzed, Perle’s hope for escape rekindles as another pirating vessel seizes Kian’s ship. This new captain seems different, with his brilliant smile and his promises that Kian will never again be Perle’s master. But he’s still a human, and a captor in his own way. The compassion he and his rag-tag human family show can’t be sincere… or can it?
Amazon Link: Our Bloody Pearl (These Treacherous Tides #1)
Author: D. N. Bryn
Genre: Fantasy Romance/Sea Adventure
Rating: 5/5 stars
Soon it becomes clear that Kian will hunt Perle relentlessly, taking down any siren in her path. As the tides turn, Perle must decide whether to run from Kian forever, or ride the forming wave into battle, hoping their newfound human companions will fight with them.
This story follows a modern convention of using the term “sirens” to refer to merfolk (instead of bird-women). The main character, Perle, is a siren who has been held in captivity by a pirate captain for a year and suffered a lot of physical harm. Perle is rescued by another pirate named Dejean, but their physical recovery isn’t easy and the psychological scars are even harder to heal. The story starts off slow as Perle adapts to their new life and learns to communicate with Dejean, but it picks up the action to almost breakneck pace later on as the pair’s many enemies find them.
In this world, sirens don’t have a concept of gender. They can change their biological sex at will, and don’t assign any roles or personal preferences based on gender. When human genders are explained, Perle chooses to use the gender-neutral pronouns they/them.
It was interesting that the entire story is told through Perle’s eyes. It’s a delicate balance to describe an outsider’s perspective of “normal” human societies in a way that feels authentic but still allows human readers to understand and follow along. This book did a good job of walking that line. It was also interesting to read about siren physiology and how their bodies worked with both lungs and gills. I wish that there had been a little more showing of siren society, but there probably wasn’t time given everything else going on.
LGBTQ+ representation: two female characters are engaged (which is quite sweet and adds some heart to the story which can otherwise be fairly bleak). Dejean also seems to come out as asexual at the end of the book.
There is also a theme of found or chosen family which will resonate with LGBTQ+ readers. Perle is also disabled by their injuries and struggles with PTSD.
Overall, this book took two things that I love (mermaids + pirates) and delivered on them in an entertaining and thoughtful way. It reads like a stand-alone novel, although it’s listed as book one of a series (although there are currently no sequels). I recommend it to anyone looking for a pirate/mermaid love story with a diverse cast.