Chris's Reviews > Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson

Sailor Twain by Mark  Siegel
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Disclaimer: I got a ARC via Netgalley.

Sailor Twain is a novel.
Not just a graphic novel, but a novel.
I know, we tend to only refer to graphic novels that people tend to apply that term to are Maus and Watchmen.
But this is a novel.

Sailor Twain tells the story of a steamboat on the Hudson River; in particular it is concerned with the boat’s captain, a Captain Twain. Twain works for a Frenchman, who has been missing, and, therefore, at the moments takes orders from the man’s brother, Lafayette. There is the mystery of the engine room, and there are a couple of strange stowaways who are likable because they are children who know how to read. Then Twain pulls something from the Hudson, a mermaid. A hurt mermaid.

Mark Siegel draws upon American literature and history, and world mythology to tell a story of love, loss, and strength. It is worthy of any grand opera or majestic work of literature.
I must admit that the charcoal drawing weren’t done in the style that I was expecting (I’m not sure what I was expecting in term s of charcoal drawings), but they do draw the reader into the story. There is something about the style. It’s somewhat like anime, somewhat European, yet wholly American. Whatever it is, it works. It suits the story.

And the story is the key. Told in parts and chapters, the story presents multi-layered characters in a conflict that is more than simple good against bad. Part of the story is the need to remove a curse, and this leads to a question about right and wrong. Despite the black and white of the drawings, the motives of the characters and the choices that must be made are not black and white.

Opening this book, even in the ARC galley form that I read does transport you to the Hudson of the later 1800s. You are there. You can smell the river, feel the boat move; in short, the reader becomes one of the passengers on that steamboat, something more than a disinterested reader. It is a way work – novel, poem, painting, comic – that can do that. This one can.

Which is why I am going to buy it.
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