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

Sailor Twain by Mark  Siegel
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's review
Jul 31, 2012

it was amazing
bookshelves: graphic-novels, history, mythology, mystery, paranormal, relationships, sex, romance-star-crossed-or-otherwise, sibling-relationships
Read from July 31 to August 01, 2012

“'Correct me if I’m wrong, Mister Lafayette, but won’t Descartes’s people sneer at such reason-resistant magic?'

'You’re asking the wrong Frenchman. I’ve been here too long. After a time, America casts a spell on even the most enlightened European. Stay on the Hudson a few years and it turns you into a mystic. Unless you’re already dead, of course.'"

Set aboard a steamboat traveling the Hudson River line between New York City and Albany in 1887, this graphic novel resonates with mystery, tragedy, sexual intrigue, and vibrant characters. Captain Elijah Twain runs a tight ship aboard The Lorelei, and is also a good husband, as well as a secretive writer and artist. When he discovers a mermaid on the river, suffering from a harpoon wound, he brings her aboard, shutters her in his quarters, and nurses her back to health. Other plot lines intersect, including the story of Lafayette, the Frenchman with the prodigious sexual appetites, who has taken over the business end of the steamboat line, after his brother’s mysterious disappearance. The character of C.G. Beaverton, a reclusive bestselling author whose identity is finally revealed, also figures prominently in the novel. And there are mysterious twins who appear as stowaways on board, always evading the captain’s grasp.

As Twain begins to know the Mermaid (named South), he becomes drawn more to her world, and learns the startling connections between her, Lafayette, and his lost brother. The backstory of the Mermaid and her sisters is tragic, as is the fate of those lured underwater by their songs. It’s up to Twain to avoid a similar fate.

This graphic novel is absolutely lush – the writing is outstanding, and the artwork, done in charcoal, is gorgeous. The novel began life as a serialized web comic (, with publication of the entire work coming this fall. I’d strongly recommend looking at the site, if only for the extra material Siegel provides, particularly about the history and geography of the region in the late 19th century. This novel has obviously been a labor of love for Siegel, and that comes through clearly on every page. It’s a graphic novel that demands a slow read, and rewards readers who want strong storytelling along with beautiful imagery.
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Malcolm Torres Thank you, I had the same experience with SAILOR TWAIN.

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