Review by Jasmine Sov, 15
A Song Below Water By Bethany C. Morrow
Tavia and Effie, best friends to the end, have been supporting each other all the way up to their junior year of high school. It’s always been them against the world. Tavia must conceal her siren powers to avoid persecution, and Effie must fight her own demons, metaphorical and literal, as she unearths secrets about her family’s past. But in the aftermath of a siren murder trial, Tavia’s powers start slipping from her control, and strange things start happening around the city and to Effie as well. With dangerous magic abound in Portland, Oregon, Tavia and Effie must stick together throughout all the things they are faced with.
A Song Below Water is a clear allegory for the role of Black women in the Black Lives Matter movement, and it brings the message across well. In today’s context, with the important topics of racism and sexism finally being brought to light, this book explains the different facets of those issues with skill. The worldbuilding, while initially fascinating, becomes confusing as the story goes on. Early on, we are introduced to the concept of an ‘eloko’, another type of magical humanoid species, but it isn’t very well explained even though an important side character, Naema, happens to be one. Because of this, I often had to reread pages in order to understand what was happening in the story at the moment. The book jumps in between Tavia and Effie’s individual points of view with each chapter, but their voices are very similar. As a result, I found it hard to tell who was talking at the moment. All in all, A Song Below Water is an interesting but slightly clunky urban fantasy that also serves as an excellent treatise on meaningful subjects.
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Catalog Number: YA SF MORROW,B