From the outset, this book is gripping. While the illustrations are beautiful, the story is engaging and well-told. The protagonist is a young steamboat captain named Twain. He navigates the Hudson River obsessively, all while avoiding his difficult home life. While he loves his invalided wife, he finds no pleasure remaining at home with her. He seeks adventure.
One night, he sees a creature struggling in the waters below. He reaches overboard and hauls it onto the deck, only to discover it is a mermaid.
Injured and weak, he brings it to his quarters to recover. Meanwhile he seeks information about her and her kind.
Twain embarks on the adventure he longs for. He uncovers the mystery of a long-lost ship owner, the true identity of a popular writer and how a mermaid came to live in the Hudson River.
The artwork is moody and atmospheric. It is an interesting blend of impressionistic settings and detail, mixed with almost cartoon-like characters. Yet, it works. The book reads quickly but the imagery invites one to slow down and absorb the illusion.
Many thanks to Gina at First Second Books for the review copy.
Paperback: 400 pages
Publisher: First Second (March 4, 2014)
Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 6 x 1.2 inches