During the turn of the century the rivers were littered with steamboats and I say littered cause that’s just what they did with their human waste and trash and some still do…woah…sorry. There were all kinds and going every which-a-way along America’s water routes. Most of them were themed gambling boats, touring boats and boats for the ladies of the night and they all moved from river bank to river bank, making tons of cash and dishing out entertainment to the masses. Our story takes place on the prestigious/ill fated Lorelei whose route brought it up along the northeast and into New York’s Hudson River.

One hundred years ago. On the foggy Hudson River, a riverboat captain rescues an injured mermaid from the waters of the busiest port in the United States. A wildly popular–and notoriously reclusive–author makes a public debut. A French nobleman seeks a remedy for a curse. As three lives twine together and race to an unexpected collision, the mystery of the Mermaid of the Hudson deepens.

Mark Siegel‘s “Sailor Twain” contains just enough of “everything” to keep you interested and reading. Was that too vague? Sorry, but it’s the best way I can describe this tale of mermaids, sex and death.  While reading, immediately my heart went out to our lead character Elijah, whose life has taken several unexpected twist, all of which has left him alone and captain aboard a busy steamboat. Mark does wonders illustrating Elijah’s frustrations with life on the Lorelei. The characters aboard this boat do damage to Elijah grip on the world as he struggles with his own role in life, that is until she arrives. Like finding a precious jewel the mermaid becomes his muse, stimulating him mentally and physically and causing him to question life without her. As the plot unfolds we learn the truth about why she’s there and suddenly the story is moving at a break neck pace. Probably could have done with a tad bit more exposition towards the end, but ambiguity seems to be what the author was going for. Mark Siegel chooses to embrace the dark and light side of the mermaid mythos in Sailor Twain, thus creating someone we can both despise and love/feel sorry for at the same time. She has all the Disney-esque qualities, but ultimately she’s an evil “siren/bitch” and hellbent on using her voice to control any and everything that she can. The story is dark, but the setting is light thanks to Mark’s art. It’s fun following Elijah as he goes about his day to day on the vessel, it’s especially fun following the exploits of his friend and owner of the ship Lafayette whose past becomes increasingly complicated as the story rolls on. Mark’s illustrations, which looks like he did it with a burnt piece of wood, plays heavily on the cartoony vibe, but then there are moments where that same art is tastefully real. No fancy paneling on this one, just plan boxes with about six to a page. While I’m on the topic the boxes tended to cut off the dialogue bubbles at times. I don’t know if this was intentional, but it was somewhat annoying and distracting. All in all the pay off is good and I think would make for a pretty decent movie given a few tweaks. Sailor Twain is a good read loaded with many interesting layers. Course it may take you a second read to absorb the epic ending, but it’ll be worth it!

I would like to make mention at this time that there is a character in this book that bears a striking resemblance to a late female singer and we wold love to know why. So if your reading this Mark let us in, cause we can’t be the only ones who noticed it.

 

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