Josephine Against the Sea

Thank you to Scholastic, Shakirah Bourne, and of course #Book Allies for the ARC of JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA.

Just when you thought your stepmother was evil…

Ten-year-old Josephine’s stepmother-wannabe Mariss may actually be a River Mumma (a volatile, deadly water spirit in Caribbean folklore).

Possibly because adults are dumb/blind to magic; or partly because Josephine sandbags most of her widowed father’s dates (book opens with a hilarious and smelly prank of her doing just that). So when Mariss is exposed, it’s up to Josephine and her BFF Akhai to save their small Bajan town from her destruction.

Loved

  • Josephine’s BFF Akhai is a great representation of a higher-functioning neurodiverse (likely autistic) person. (Yes, these friendships do exist!)
  • Mariss is so sickly-sweet that her character is hilarious – when she’s not on a murderous rampage. Actually, there are too many wacky, funny, minor characters to list here.
  • Bourne spends so much of the time playing an “is she or isn’t she” game with the reader’s mind that the magical reveal is all the more amazing.

Caveat

Trigger warning: Climax involves a hardcore hurricane… but to be fair, you can’t realistically have a months-spanning story set in the Caribbean without one.

Verdict

With strong roots in Bajan mythology (digestible to someone unfamiliar with the culture or its monsters) , this is an enjoyable story about family (given and found), friendships, and belief in yourself.

JOSEPHINE AGAINST THE SEA is available now from Scholastic.

Publication date: July 6, 2021

Pages: 293

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