Review: WEIRD FISHES by Rae Mariz (2022)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: 2022
Buy Link: Stelliform Press

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: abandonment, animal cruelty and death of a loved one, child loss and grief, self-harm and suicide, near-drowning, state and police violence, rape and sexual abuse, genocide and cultural loss. Heavy shit, presented in a narrative that takes care to support the weight

Ceph and Iliokai are both weird fishes, one being more like an octopus and the other being a seadog. They notice that the currents have been slowing down as a result of the activities of those Above and it’s a race against other’s collective decisions to fix the problem. Enthusiasm and love for all things oceanic burst from the page along with an impotent rage over its destruction as a result of unregulated human waste. Clever and fantastical, I greatly enjoyed this journey.

An interview with the author will be going up on 12/1/2022.

This story captures all the wonder, danger, and magnificence of the sea. From the tiniest krill to the idea of ocean currents being vectors of time, no stone gets unturned. Each piece of the ocean gets characterization, and it’s told beautifully through Iliokai’s and Ceph’s alternating POVs. One has a more transient role within the ocean as a whale rider and the other has almost a tourist’s perspective of everything outside her deep blue sea. The way Mariz communicates cultural differences and languages barriers feel so human, but it’s the details in prose and imagery that remind the reader that it is in fact the humans who are getting a marine-eye view of several watery ecosystems.

There are so many evocative scenes in this one, but my favorite part had to be when Iliokai gets swallowed by a whale. It so deftly captures one of the major themes of the novella, which is the interconnectedness of one’s actions and presence. That sense of wider oceanic communion both at an interpersonal and macro level comes through so succinctly, I had metaphorically clutched my heart at how well it was pulled off.

A work that shows incredible respect for the lives and liveliness beneath the ocean’s surfaces, this is not one to miss if you’re into all things ocean, whether it is marine biology, climates studies, or some combination thereof.

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3 thoughts on “Review: WEIRD FISHES by Rae Mariz (2022)

  1. Pingback: Author to Author with Rae Mariz (Weird Fishes) | Jo Writes Fantasy

  2. Pingback: November 2022 Reading Recap | Jo Writes Fantasy

  3. Pingback: My 2022 in Reading: Jo Needs a Nap | Jo Writes Fantasy

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