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Today we’re hosting a review for Our Bloody Pearl by D. N. Bryn, a sea-based fantasy that came 4th in the BBNYA 2021 awards!

BBNYA is a yearly competition where Book Bloggers from all over the world read and score books written by indie authors. If you are an author and wish to learn more about the BBNYA competition, you can visit the official website or twitter @bbnya_official.

The sign-ups will soon be open for the 2022 BBNYA competition, be it for authors to enter their books, or for bloggers wanting to be part of the new panel, so keep your eyes peeled!!

The ocean is uncontrollable and dangerous. But to the sirens who swim the warm island waters, it’s a home more than worth protecting from the humans and their steam-propelled ships. Between their hypnotic voices and the strength of their powerful tails, sirens have little to fear.

That is, until the ruthless pirate captain, Kian, creates a device to cancel out their songs.

Perle was the first siren captured, and while all since have either been sold or killed, Kian still keeps them prisoner. Though their song is muted and their tail paralyzed, Perle’s hope for escape rekindles as another pirating vessel seizes Kian’s ship. This new captain seems different, with his brilliant smile and his promises that Kian will never again be Perle’s master. But he’s still a human, and a captor in his own way. The compassion he and his rag-tag human family show can’t be sincere… or can it?

Soon it becomes clear that Kian will hunt Perle relentlessly, taking down any siren in her path. As the tides turn, Perle must decide whether to run from Kian forever, or ride the forming wave into battle, hoping their newfound human companions will fight with them.

This adult fantasy novel featuring an nonbinary disabled protagonist is a voyage of laughter and danger where friendships and love abound and sirens are sure to steal—or eat—your heart.

Trigger warnings: mild gore due to carnivorous sirens and sensations of drowning.

Our Bloody Pearl by D. N. Bryn was published by Bryn Books on 26th July 2018 at 206 pages.

Our Review:

First off, Our Bloody Pearl has been sat on my TBR pile for a while. Not only does it have an absolutely stunning and eye-catching cover, but it had also been recommended to me by other author friends. The premise enough sounded interesting, and I was hoping that I’d get a chance to read it during the BBNYA contest of 2021, as I was a panelist that year! Alas, Our Bloody Pearl wasn’t one of the books I read and judged, but the fates gave me another chance by offering this book tour. I couldn’t say no!

Before I begin the review, I’ll state that I received this book to read and review as part of the 2021 BBNYA competition and the BBNYA tours organised by the TWR Tour team. All opinions are my own, unbiased and honest.

Our Bloody Pearl tells the story of Perle, a siren who has been captured by the dreaded pirate Kian and locked inside Kian’s ship, starving and abused. Rescued by another group of pirates, Perle’s journey across the sea to their new home is also a personal journey of healing physical and emotional scars. While Perle longs to return to the ocean, it’s going to take time for their wounds to heal, which means having to tolerate humans–and build relationships with them.

This story is quite short at 206 pages and reads like a prequel novella, as there are other stories within the These Treacherous Tides series that builds on the unique steampunk and sea-faring world that D. N. Byrn has created. However, Our Bloody Pearl feels like a fully fleshed out story with danger, high-stakes, action, and a touch of romance for fantasy romance fans to sink their teeth into.

Perle makes a fascinating protagonist as we view the story through their eyes. As a Siren, Perle has a unique connection to the sea and the blooming life contained within it. At the start of the story, Perle has no time or sympathy for humans and would rather rip out their organs and eat them instead. Unfortunately, Perle is trapped with their new human companions for a while, and that means learning to communicate with them. It’s wonderful to watch this relationship unfold as Perle begins to trust them and also adapt to their own changing circumstances.

I’ve not read any fantasy books featuring sirens as anything but villainous characters, so it was an interesting change reading a sea-based world that wasn’t focussed on mermaids or other sea creatures. In this world, sirens have their own unique society and customs which are introduced throughout as we learn more about them and the human society. Both are in opposition and warring over their territories, which leads Captain Kian to wage war against all sirens–a war which only Perle can stop. But can Perle bring humankind and sirens together without it getting bloody?

What I appreciated most about Our Bloody Pearl is the care which went into creating a diverse cast. Perle is a non-binary character, and there is other LGBT+ representation with the human crew as well. Perle’s journey of change also touches on how to accept changes in their own body and what that means for their future–not just wanting to return to what they were, but to adapt to who they are now.

While there is some violence, swearing, and discussion of abuse, I feel like Our Bloody Pearl’s writing style, pace, and characterization would be great for YA fantasy fans. And while I’m talking about Our Bloody Pearl, I again have to mention how creative and unique that cover is! I especially love the detail of the tail within the waves. This is one of my favourite indie covers ever!

Final Words:

Our Bloody Pearl is a touching tale of healing and change within a seafaring steampunk world.

About the Author:

D.N. Bryn began writing short stories in middle school and has yet to stop. They received their bachelors degree in Biochemistry and Cell Biology from UCSD, and enjoy a day job involving respiratory disease research. They bring their love for animals, science, and mythology into all their writing, and are passionate about creating inclusive worlds where a diverse array of characters can go on grand adventures without being hindered by social misconceptions based on their appearance, sexuality, or gender.

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