It is safe to say that The Mermaid of Black Conch is not Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Some may even say it’s the adult version of the classic Hans Christian Andersen tale.
In Roffey’s version, Aycayia the mermaid is caught by Yankees fishing in the waters off St. Constance village. Luckily, she is rescued by a local fisherman, David. While she hides out in his home, she slowly retransforms into the woman she used to be.
Aycayia is really a “red woman,” a Taino who was cursed by her peers because of her latent power to seduce their men.
Long story short: This is the archetypal “stranger comes to town” story where the arrival of the mermaid upsets the natural balance of St. Constance and causes a “sea change” in a host of relationships.
In the story, there is also a lot of talk about “sexing” the mermaid because she symbolizes the exotic, the unattainable, what the fishermen have never had.
Roffey’s writing definitely evokes the vibrant colors and lushness of the Caribbean seascape and landscape. I think it’s the perfect summer read, if you want to be transported to a magical-realist version of a Caribbean island.
* DISCLAIMER: I received the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.