Now Crowdfunding: ‘The Sea In You’ Reviewed
by Rachel Bellwoar
A fresh take on The Little Mermaid that never feels like a retread, the crowdfunding campaign for The Sea in You runs until June 30th.
When cartoon characters feel woozy, they see stars. When they’re in love, they see hearts. It only goes to follow that a mermaid in love would see starfish. Whether or not you agree that that’s logically sound, though, it’s still undeniably cute (and when you realize that that love’s being directed at a hamburger – even cuter).
Jessi Sheron’s The Sea in You isn’t just about a hamburger-loving mermaid. It’s a book about friendship, but a friendship that’s solidified the moment Corinth (who’s human) isn’t afraid to tell Skylla you don’t eat hamburgers with the wrapper on.
To understand why that might be a nerve-wracking thing to say, it’s helpful to know that Skylla isn’t your Disney mermaid. In fact, Skylla addresses this directly in a great scene where Corinth gifts her a mermaid doll she had as a kid. “…It looks a little like if you mixed up a human person and a sea person,” Skylla says, and that’s one of the things that’s so fascinating about Sheron’s character design. Skylla isn’t like a centaur, where if you only saw the top half of her body, you might confuse her for a human. It’s very obvious that she’s half fish, but when Skylla doesn’t even recognize the doll as being a mermaid it makes you pay attention to those details.
Sheron also adds elements of siren mythology to her twist on The Little Mermaid story, which means Skylla can be genuinely scary sometimes (especially her teeth). What’s great about these additions, though, is it keeps the story from feeling familiar. There were even moments where I found myself forgetting, only to remember again, “Oh yeah, this is a retelling of the Little Mermaid,” but that speaks to how much Sheron makes this story her own. It doesn’t feel like a retread.
In Disney’s The Little Mermaid, for example, Ariel’s transformation into a human is a central part of the story. Ariel and Eric don’t even meet properly until after Ariel’s human (at which point Ariel can’t speak because she’s given up her voice so Ursula would do the spell). In The Sea in You, though, Sheron holds off on having Skylla transform and instead has Skylla and Corinth get to know each other first while Skylla’s still a mermaid (they meet while Corinth is picking up trash at the beach). While that means communication is still an issue, Corinth and Skylla work together to find ways around their language barrier, and while Sheron never makes this seem like an easy process, she doesn’t make it seem impossible either. Since Corinth’s mom is deaf, Sheron incorporates ASL into their conversations, too. At first, I didn’t pick up on the visual cues, but Sheron shows the characters signing in the art and initially uses a different color for the lettering.
Iron Circus’ crowdfunding campaign for The Sea in You is running now and to June 30th. The rewards are PDF and print copies of the book. As a content warning, this story does deal with abuse (Corinth is in an abusive relationship with her boyfriend).