Seeing as it is Spring Break, which means Spring Break Short Story Recommendations, and also Friday, which means Supporting Friends Friday, I figured I’d combine the two and revisit a work I highlighted some weeks ago: Mariella Hunt‘s fantasy, Regency-era novella The Sea Rose.
Mariella is releasing The Sea Rose via Amazon’s Kindle Vella service. Kindle Vella allows authors to release stories serially, in short little doses or chapters, much the way much of Charles Dickens’s work was published.
As such, The Sea Rose is not really a short story, but instead an episodic novella. That said, it maintains some of the swiftness of pace and focus of a short story.
When I first wrote about The Sea Rose, only the first chapter was available. At present, there are nine chapters, and I am currently reading Chapter 5. Based on what I’ve read so far, I’m fairly certain I am nowhere near halfway through the book, so I imagine there are many more chapters to come.
The world of The Sea Rose is an alternate Regency England, one in which the style, panache, and suffocating social conventions of the era still exist—but so do mermaids. Mariella loves the mythical creatures, and the story weaves them into the narrative.
The merfolk are treated as second-class citizens—or aren’t even acknowledged at all. When they are, they are seen are loathsome abominations and scoundrels. There are routine, terroristic arson attacks on mer districts, and a deep canyon of social norms separating them from normal humans.
In this heady brew of interspecies and class conflict bumbles Peter West, the meek son of a minor nobleman who flees a life of drudgery with Meredith Bannister, an overbearing shrew of a woman.
What Mariella does so beautifully is make all of the characters—including Meredith—sympathetic. The reader learns that Meredith’s shrewish, overbearing nature stems from a place of fear, as does Peter’s meek timidity.
The character I’m most intrigued to learn more about is Rose, the titular character. She is half mer (maybe quarter mer?), but grew up with Peter (tiny spoiler alert). At this point, she remembers him, but he does not remember her.
You can read the first three chapters of The Sea Rose for free; after that, you’ll need to purchase tokens. However, Amazon gives you 200 tokens for free, and the chapters are around 14-16 tokens apiece. I’m sure Mariella gets some cash when you spend tokens, but I’m not sure how that method works for compensating writers.
Regardless, check out The Sea Rose. It’s very good!