Island of the Mermaids is a simple story, drawing upon an age-old myth of sailors around the world, that is distinguished by its telling. Lyka Bloom takes us back to the late 19th century, aboard the Tara Dane, soon to fall prey to a story of unnatural source and even more unnatural fury. Like the stories of that era, it is an epistolary tale, told in the form of journal entries begun by the ship’s captain, and finished by his first mate.
The dialogue and descriptions are very well done, bringing the feel of the times to life. It is easy to get lost on the deserted island with the crew, and even easier to forget the technological conveniences of a century later. These men (and woman) are trapped, lost, and alone . . . or they would be, were it not for the sweet siren songs coming from the seas around them.
Lyka Bloom plays the story to the chest for the most part, hinting at things and suggesting others, but saving the actual gender/species transformations for the very end. We know it is already happened to others, and we know it is coming for the captain, but that slow reveal makes his fate all the more powerful. There is even a touch of mythology to the tale, explaining the how and why of it all, which serves to top off a truly fantastic tale.