Of Mermaids and Orisa Series by Natasha Bowen

SKIN OF THE SEA | Official Book Trailer

An unforgettable fantasy debut inspired by West African mythology, this is Children of Blood and Bone meets The Little Mermaid, in which a mermaid takes on the gods themselves.

A Letter from the Author

Dear Educator,

I first read “The Little Mermaid” by Hans Christian Andersen when I was six. I fell in love with the world under the sea and its magic. As I grew older, I still loved mermaids but began to wonder: Where were the mermaids who looked like me?

I read a lot. Growing up, I didn’t experience many stories where I saw myself. One piece of advice I’ve heard for writers over the years is to write the book you want to read. Skin of the Sea is that story for me. I wanted to read about Black mermaids and legendary creatures. I wanted to read about the excellence of the West African kingdoms. I wanted a tale that explored the magic, myths, and spiritual beliefs that have spread across the diaspora.

I was first motivated to write this book after coming across Yemoja, a Yoruba deity of the Ifá spiritual belief system. She was said to have left her home in the rivers and streams to follow the first Africans who were stolen. There are stories of her comforting enslaved people, while others tell of her wrecking the slave ships. Some say that Yemoja blessed the souls of those who died in the sea and returned them back home. This was the belief that inspired me. What if she created seven Mami Wata (mermaids) in her image to help her do this? And what if one of them saved a boy instead? The seeds for Skin of the Sea were sown and the tale grew from there.

My father is Yoruba, and being able to delve into that part of my heritage has made writing this story even more important to me. Skin of the Sea is a tale of magic and courage, but it also highlights a rich culture and a spirituality often overlooked. This story speaks of ingenuity and fellowship. It is a celebration of the ancestors and their strength.

It is incredible to be reading more stories that open up our worlds to other people’s experiences, cultures, and beliefs. I’m proud of Skin of the Sea and how it explores Black mermaids with African origins. Some readers will see themselves in this story in a way they haven’t before, while other readers will be able to expand their experience of magical beings, fantastical creatures, and history. I hope that all readers will be enthralled by Simidele’s world and will get lost in the glories of fifteenth-century West Africa.

All my best,
Natasha Bowen

Skin of the Sea

Skin of the Sea By Natasha Bowen


The must-read Black Mermaid fantasy series that #1 New York Times bestselling author Nicola Yoon calls “epic and original,” in which one mermaid takes on the gods themselves.

Praise for Skin of the Deep

★ “A story bursting with innovative inspiration . . . a divine debut.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

★ “Reinvigorating the image of West Africa as not merely a site of human suffering but a historical place of great invention, fellowship, and hope, Bowen relays a story as lushly described as it is cinematic, centering a brave, headstrong protagonist coming into her own power in an age of change.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

 “Any story about literal Black girl magic featuring a Black mermaid is sure to shine, but Bowen’s story swims to sparkling heights.” —Booklist, starred review

“Give this book to everyone, but especially fans of mythological and well-crafted fantasy.” —School Library Journal

“Those who have been riveted by the many new West African-inspired novels of the last few years, including Children of Blood and Bone and The Gilded Ones, will find this a worthy addition to the genre, and readers new to an African fantasy setting have an excellent introduction here.” —The Bulletin

“An inspired take on Hans Christian Andersen’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ that blends West African religion and history in an immersive adventure. . . . Skin of the Sea painfully entwines love and sacrifice to create a story as powerful and majestic as the sea itself.” —BookPage

“Bowen combines a classic quest plot with a rich and still-underrepresented mythology . . . [an] inventive supernatural fantasy.” —The Horn Book

Soul of the Deep

The Sequel to the Splash Hit and New York Times Bestseller!

This is the stunning sequel to New York Times bestseller Skin of the Sea, in which the world must pay the price for one mermaid’s choice, and a dark force reverberates across realms.

Praise for Soul of the Deep

★ “A deeply satisfying dive into magic and mystery.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review


“Readers will be pleased that this sequel is just as adventurous as the previous volume, rife with drama and West African mythology, from the epic scale of the setting to the clashes with terrifying beasts to the interference of scheming orisa.” —The Bulletin


“Bowen’s lush fantasy is steeped in West African mythos, and this installment expands upon the worldbuilding with new villains and deeper characterizations . . . Interesting and inventive, this installment is worth purchasing for libraries that own the series opener.” —School Library Journal

Learn More

Natasha Bowen is a New York Times bestselling author, a teacher, and a mother of three children. She is of Nigerian and Welsh descent and lives in Cambridge, England, where she grew up. Natasha studied English and creative writing at Bath Spa University before moving to East London, where she taught for nearly ten years. She is obsessed with Japanese and German stationery and spends stupid amounts on notebooks, which she then features on her secret Instagram. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, watched over carefully by Milk and Honey, her cat and dog.

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