The Sea in You

Iron Circus. Mar. 2023. 224p. pap. $15. ISBN 9781638991113.
Gr 6-9–Beach cleaning is a way to pass the time for 15-year-old Corinth, new to town and friendless except for rocker boyfriend, Seth. Despite a warning that people have disappeared from the beach, Corinth is drawn to the shore by a siren’s call and pulled underwater. Dazzled by Corinth’s pendant, the teeth-baring mermaid delivers the dazed girl back to shore, thus beginning a friendship between the two. Corinth teaches the mermaid to communicate using ASL, vocalization, and books on mythology, and the mermaid picks the name Skylla to use between them. As the friendship grows, conflicts arise. Seth is a domineering and possessive bully; Skylla is challenged by her sisters, who fight in acts of dominance and tests of strength. Wishing to remain on land, Skylla appeals to her magical ancestors for a transformation spell, but the spell comes with a terrible price. This graphic novel retelling of “The Little Mermaid” mirrors the original’s themes of transformation, empowerment, and discerning real love from obsession, as Corinth begins to understand how Seth’s actions reflect an escalating abuse cycle. Through self-awareness, Corinth and Skylla find agency and acceptance and escape abuse. Corinth’s expressive eyes lend a charming, empathic quality to the relatable protagonist, who speaks in sign language with her Deaf mother. A cliffhanger ending suggests a second installment may reveal if Corinth and Skylla’s friendship can weather the forecasted storm.
VERDICT A recommended selection for summer reading; this graphic novel can be paired with the original text and other fantastical versions of Anderson’s classic cautionary tale.

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