Today I am delighted to be joining The Write Reads blog tour for Our Bloody Pearl by D.N. Bryn which was a finalist in BBNYA 2021. It is also a book that I have been meaning to read for ages, especially after reading and enjoying Once Stolen which is part of the same series.
Disclaimer – I received a copy in exchange for an honest review, all thoughts are my own.
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?
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 adult fantasy novel featuring an nonbinary disabled protagonist is a voyage of laughter and danger where friendships and love abound and sirens are sure to steal—or eat—your heart.
Trigger warnings: mild gore due to carnivorous sirens and sensations of drowning.
Our Bloody Pearl is a book I’ve been aware of for a long time, I remember seeing bits about it on Tumblr before it was even released, and I fell in love with the premise from the beginning – I am a sucker for pirates and sirens, especially stories that build on the idea of sirens so that they are more than just their voice. Our Bloody Pearl does that and more.
Perle is an absolutely fantastic POV character, and I love that the author chose to tell the story through the eyes of the Siren, and felt it really added an extra dimension to the story. Their voice is so distinct, and they are the bridge between the two sides, and it is through Perle that we get a real sense of the threat – and an intimate understanding of the world of Sirens, and how it has interacted with the human world in the past, and what they have endured as a result of that. Perle also suffered a debilitating injury, and we get to see them learning to adapt to life afterwards, and I like that it was a story of adaptation, rather than having it waved away. It was fantastic representation that spoke to me on a personal level, and it was well written and wasn’t the only thing that defined the character or their relationships with the others. In fact, as with Once Stolen, this book should be celebrated for its representation, both here but also for LGBTQIA+, and the fact that the main character was also non-binary made this a book that will always be close to my heart.
The other characters are just as well written, and Dejean is a wonderful character – although perhaps not what you would expect from a pirate, but I loved him, and how considerate he is of those around him, especially those close to him. It was a delight to watch the unfolding relationship between him and Perle, and it was a very natural unfolding, working through trust issues and communication issues. Murielle and Simone were great characters too – and I particularly enjoyed Murielle and Perle’s first encounter.
Also, this book is really the epitome of found family. If that is a trope you love (spoiler I do), then Our Bloody Pearl delivers that in spades and I loved it. It’s a weird and wonderful group that come together, and I love how it builds up throughout the book, it’s not instantaneous – Perle has to learn to trust Dejean and the others, and they’re learning to adapt to one another and what they’re living through. Much of Our Bloody Pearl is about learning to communicate, both within this ‘family’ but also between humans and sirens, the idea of what they achieve spilling out beyond this and expanding into the question of how can different species overcome the barriers between them to co-exist.
Of learning to understand.
But I’m stronger now, and sure of myself, sure of my goal. The ocean isn’t against me today. I am against the ocean.
And I will win this battle.
In Once Stolen the Murk was a character in and of itself, and the same is true of the ocean here. While I felt some of the worldbuilding could have used a little fleshing out in some places, the setting was beautifully captured from the descriptions to the details of life on and around the water, to the way Perle’s POV and voice reflected the world they had lived in. It was a lovely touch and added not just to Perle’s character and journey, but also in making the ocean feel very much a character in the story.
Our Bloody Pearl was a fantastically fun read and one that pulls you along like an ocean current. A wonderful character-driven story, with found family, well-written representation on several levels that had me smiling from start to finish.
D.N. Bryn began writing short stories in middle school and has yet to stop. They received their bachelors degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UCSD, and enjoy a day job involving respiratory disease research. They bring their love for animals, science, and mythology into all their writing, and are passionate about creating inclusive worlds where a diverse array of characters can go on grand adventures without being hindered by social misconceptions based on their appearance, sexuality, or gender.
I received this book to read and review as part of the 2021 BBNYA competition and the BBNYA tours organised by the TWR Tour team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.
BBNYA is a yearly competition where Book Bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website http://www.bbnya.com or twitter @bbnya_official.
The sign-ups are now open for the 2022 BBNYA competition, be it for authors to enter their books, or for bloggers wanting to be part of the new panel.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.