The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

The Seafarer's Kiss cover

“As the weapon sank, the relieved whales rose. Each of them gently brushed my hip as they took a breath, thanking me in their soft, dignified language of touch.” (16)


4.5/5 – I absolutely love The Little Mermaid (the Disney movie) and I enjoy the movie as it is. When I heard about a queer retelling of The Little Mermaid with a bisexual main character, I was very much into it. And I loved this book. I read it in about eight hours and that’s rare for me. (Not straight through mind you — the season finale of Game of Thrones was on.) I’m not the fastest reader out there, but I could not stop reading this book. It was only 212 pages and there was so much to enjoy about it. So, prepare for a lot of gushing and a tiny bit of nitpicking.

I absolutely loved the setting and the Norse mythology weaved into this story. I don’t know anything about Norse mythology, but I’m suddenly interested. The writing in this book was gorgeous. The descriptions of the glacier the merpeople lived on just made me want to be a part of that world. There was something calming and serene about this book, and I don’t even like the ocean. I can’t even swim, but dammit I wanted to be a mermaid after reading this book.

Now, I’d like to talk about a few different relationships in this book because I feel like they were at the core of this story. First, I’d like to talk about Ersel and her mother. I teared up during a scene with these two and their relationship was so wonderful. I’ll admit, I thought about my own relationship with my mom and that made it even more emotional for me. I would say more but that would lead to spoilers and I really want people to go read this book. In fact, I’m going to be vague because I don’t want to give too much away.

Second, I’d like to talk about Ersel and Ragna. It’s no secret there is an f/f romance in this book. If it’s a surprise to you, well surprise! There’s a scene, again being vague, that was so beautiful and I was blown away. Maybe it’s just because I’m a romantic person, but I loved it. Also, even though their relationship escalated quickly, Ersel acknowledged she didn’t know if things would work out. It was something worth giving a chance and I liked that. It’s not insta-love, but there is potential for love to blossom.

Lastly, I’d like to talk about Ersel and Havamel. Now, I liked Havamel and yet I’m not a huge fan of his role in the plot. This was one of my few nitpicks and something that bothers me in general. In the beginning of the book, Ersel is already upset with him and considers their friendship over. In my mind, a romance between them isn’t going to happen, but then to have him do something so wrong that Ersel might not forgive him was unnecessary because he’s not a bad person. I think showing their friendship throughout would’ve been nice because as I’ve said before, two people can be friends without the potential for romance.

I should also talk about Loki. In this book specifically, Loki’s gender is not male nor female but both and neither at the same time. I’m not labeling them specifically because I don’t know the specific label. Basically, they go back and forth between male and female forms and it’s amazing. However, Loki wasn’t the most likable character by a long shot. I’m sure that’s part of Loki’s mythology, they are clever and funny, but also awful. Horrible things happen because of Loki. Personally, I just loved the idea of a character with no fixed gender and everyone accepted them as such. However, I acknowledge that I’m cisgender and I might feel completely different if I wasn’t.

I just want to continue talking about this book and encouraging others to read it. It’s a fantasy book with an f/f romance and body positivity. I need more books like this. I want more books with a folklore I’m unfamiliar with and a world I can just sink into. It’s a great time to read LGBTQ+ books right now and I wish I had more books like this when I was a teenager.


4 thoughts on “The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

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