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Strange, touching love story

Written by Debbie Jacob for Newsday on Tuesday, March 17, 2020

The true marvel of this novel is how Roffey offers so many important social and historical points for readers to consider in a light read filled with tension. Her characters and conflicts are complex, yet in many ways this is a plot-driven novel.

Roffey’s many messages never get in the way of her story, which the narrator categorises as a legend. If readers accept The Mermaid… as a legend, then they must buy into the belief that mermaids are real and some of the story is real. It is a clever narrative technique that forces readers to consider history through the vehicle of a mermaid’s story.

History, then, becomes entwined with myth and legend, and still Roffey engages in genre-bending. Can the story of a mermaid be classified as a fable and not just a legend or folk tale? Aycayia provides lessons animals teach in fables, but she is half fish and half woman. The author blurs boundaries between ocean and land, beast and human, and forces readers to consider yet another metaphor: the beauty and the agony that result when people cross cultural and ethnic or racial boundaries.

Aycayia’s Taino culture collides with David’s culture. The ancient world collides with the new world and offers fresh new ways to examine creolisation.

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This is a review of The Mermaid of Black Conch

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