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Content warning: dismemberment, vomiting, physical child abuse (depicted), infection, spousal abuse (aftermath depicted), alcoholism, poverty, blood, gore
In a small fishing village named for a famed hero, Kaspar and his family run the local parish and rely on generosity to make ends meet. Things start getting weird and deadly when a mermaid arrives in town. People start going missing and madness ensues while deciding whether
Haunting and folkloric with elegant prose, this novella is a treat of deadly mermaids, townsfolk getting it wrong, and what feels like a rapture.
An interview with the author will be going up on release day, July 18th, 2022.
The reckoning of what makes a good man is so good in this one. There are gnarly fisherman, preachers in denial, lovestruck idiots, and kids who don’t know better. Our narrator, Kaspar, sounds like he’s trying his best, but, there is a selfishness at his core. I really enjoyed how McGregor explores consequences through that lens. The things he wants aren’t up to him to have, and the main plot driver is seeing how it all unfolds. It’s equal parts deadly and beautiful.
This story is disgusting and the attention to detail is top notch. If you don’t want to read about all phases of a fish’s death and the things people are willing to eat in desperation, this one is best left alone. Atmospherically, it works with the arrival of the mermaid. Thematically, there is decay both moral and physical, but one doesn’t necessarily influence the other.
I also found myself enthralled by the rules of mermaid lore employed. It’s fairly binary when it comes to gender, as the mermaid has different plans and outcomes for men and women. The cast is fairly contained, however, and the entire story and the greater lore is localized to this small fishing town.
If you’re someone who finds yourself rooting for the monster, you’re in for a fun time reminiscent of a Robert Eggers film.