A Song Below Water: A Novel (Hardcover)
Tavia and her sister, Effie, are struggling with being themselves in a world where some people are born as mythological beings, like Sirens, Eloko and Gargoyles. Tavia is a Siren, a being that is feared because her Siren voice can be used to control others. In addition she is Black, adding an additional layer of silencing. She lives in hiding and fear and frequently resorts to sign language when she cannot speak for fear of revealing her Siren voice. Effie is a Ren Faire performer and only feels herself when swimming or being Euphemia the Mer, her mermaid alter ego. At school she hates when attention turns to her and clams up, unable to speak. She is also troubled by secrets in her past, including her absent father. Tavia and Effie are everything to each other, even though they are sisters by circumstance rather than birth, and are able to truly talk to each other. With this support they learn to find and accept their voice and their true selves. The narrator alternates from one sister to the other throughout the book and each chapter has a unique voice and feel. Through a mix of reality and metaphor Bethany C. Morrow is able to tackle issues, around Black women's voices being silenced, without preaching.— Caroline
Bethany C. Morrow's A Song Below Water is the story for today’s readers — a captivating modern fantasy about black mermaids, friendship, and self-discovery set against the challenges of today's racism and sexism.
In a society determined to keep her under lock and key, Tavia must hide her siren powers.
Meanwhile, Effie is fighting her own family struggles, pitted against literal demons from her past. Together, these best friends must navigate through the perils of high school’s junior year.
But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice at the worst possible moment.
Soon, nothing in Portland, Oregon, seems safe. To save themselves from drowning, it’s only Tavia and Effie’s unbreakable sisterhood that proves to be the strongest magic of all.
“An enthralling tale of black girl magic and searing social commentary ready to rattle the bones.” — Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles
About the Author
Bethany C. Morrow is a recovering expat recently returning from six years in Montreal, Quebec, to live and write in north country, New York.
A California native, Bethany graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a BA in Sociology. Following undergrad, she studied Clinical Psychological Research at the University of Wales, Bangor, in Great Britain before returning to North America to focus on her literary work.
She is the author of the adult novel Mem (Unnamed Press) and the editor of the young adult anthology Take the Mic (Arthur A. Levine Books). A Song Below Water is her debut standalone young adult novel.
“Morrow expertly and smartly explores race, bigotry, oppression, and injustice against a backdrop of ordinary life with a dose of the supernatural added to the mix. A Song Below Water is a must-read for lovers of fantasy and contemporary stories alike.”—Booklist, starred review
“Morrow has deftly woven a contemporary tale with mythical elements to take on the invisibility and marginalization of Black women, touching on issues such as misogynoir, body image, social justice, and generational trauma. Empowering and innovative. Morrow elevates mermaids and sirens to legitimate and compelling vanguards for social change.”—School Library Journal
"From sirens to mermaids to sprites and gargoyles, the magic is familiar — but different enough to be exciting. Morrow... tackles anti-blackness and white supremacy head-on, while still giving Tavia and Effie the space to be realistic, flawed teenagers. In this magic-infused version of America, having a voice is literally a superpower — a powerful message for the times we're living in."—NPR
“A watery and melodic crossroads of the real and the mythic, A Song Below Water lures readers with its seductive and beautifully black siren song. An enthralling tale of black girl magic and searing social commentary ready to rattle the bones.” — Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles series
“I love this book so, so much! Bethany C. Morrow delivers a blistering modern classic with this gorgeous tale of friendship and power. A Song Below Water somehow manages to be intensely happy and sad at the same time and all in the balance of great, riveting storytelling. The best YA novel I've read all year.” — Daniel José Older, New York Times bestselling author of Shadowshaper
“Morrow masterfully blends the real lives of Black girls in contemporary Portland with a mythic world of sirens, gargoyles and other supernatural creatures to create a compelling coming-of-age story in which two sisters, bound by love and fate, find their voices and their power.” —Rebecca Roanhorse, Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell Award Winner, author of Trail of Lightning and Star Wars: Resistance Reborn
“Empowering and full of surprises, A Song Below Water reminds us how important it is to use our voices, even when we’re afraid. Morrow has created a world that’s both familiar and brimming with fantastical creatures, and the result is timely, necessary, and utterly captivating.” – Akemi Dawn Bowman, award-winning author of Starfish
“A rich, intricate dive into mythology, misogynoir, and the way the world makes black girls out to be monsters. Like the siren's song, A Song Below Water is irresistibly compelling.” —Heidi Heilig, award-winning author of The Girl from Everywhere
“The world is lush and intense, the voice intoxicating, and the message eternal. Morrow will have you under her spell from page one.” — L.L. McKinney, author of the Nightmare-Verse series
“A compelling tale packed with endlessly inventive magical concepts, blazingly current social commentary, and heroines you'll fall hopelessly in love with. I'm obsessed.” — Sarah Kuhn, author of Heroine Complex series
“A Song Below Water is a lush, colorful, and deeply moving masterpiece about mythology, the sometimes masked evils of racism, and all the ways the world hurts black girls. An irresistible and perfectly bewitching read that I couldn't put down!” —Jay Coles, composer and author of Tyler Johnson Was Here
“A Song Below Water is a captivating tale about the magic of sisterhood and the importance of being seen for who you truly are.” —Parker Peevyhouse, author of The Echo Room
“An exciting new contemporary fantasy. In this parallel world, black female empowerment is standing up for yourself and others while simultaneously navigating love, physical and emotional violence, and the responsibility of immense supernatural power.” —Kirkus Reviews