Review: “Flowers for the Sea” by Zin E. Rocklyn

Release Date: October 19, 2021
Publisher: Tordotcom
Genre: Dark Fantasy

Description

We are a people who do not forget.

Survivors from a flooded kingdom struggle alone on an ark. Resources are scant, and ravenous beasts circle. Their fangs are sharp.

Among the refugees is Iraxi: ostracized, despised, and a commoner who refused a prince, she’s pregnant with a child that might be more than human. Her fate may be darker and more powerful than she can imagine.

Zin E. Rocklyn’s extraordinary debut is a lush, gothic fantasy about the prices we pay and the vengeance we seek.

My Thoughts

Iraxi, a commoner trapped on the gradually deteriorating ark, rejected a prince and was punished and cast out for her hubris. To survive, she turned to sex work, which drove the wedge between her and the rest of the ship even deeper. Now she’s pregnant with a creature that probably isn’t human and the others on the ship are plotting against her. She doesn’t want her child, but doesn’t want them to have it, either. When her delivery date arrives, it will be her last chance to make them all pay for what they did to her and her people, both before the flood and after.

The narrative flows and weaves like a gothic poem, all quiet rage and dark thoughts. Iraxi is a bomb of barely contained vengeance just waiting to go off. I appreciated Rocklyn not shying away from Iraxi’s complicated feelings toward her pregnancy. She never wanted to bear a child in this environment. There is no insta-maternal love here. She thinks of her fetus as a parasite draining her dry and resents the way it has altered her body in ways she was unprepared for and doesn’t like. But there’s also a kind of wonder underlying that, not of impending motherhood but of what this creature might become and how it might reshape the world.

This was a vicious, intense novella and one hell of a debut. It’s thoroughly unsettling yet impossible to put down. Zin E. Rocklyn doesn’t hold anything back. I’m very much looking forward to reading more from them in the future.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy.

Buy it at bookshop.org (affiliate link).

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