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Publisher's Summary

2020 Nautilus Book Award - Gold
2020 NPR Best Book of the Year
2021 Locus Awards - Nominee

Bethany C. Morrow's A Song Below Water is the story for today’s listeners - a captivating modern fantasy about black mermaids, friendship, and self-discovery set against the challenges of today's racism and sexism.

In a society determined to keep her under lock and key, Tavia must hide her siren powers. Meanwhile, Effie is fighting her own family struggles, pitted against literal demons from her past. Together, these best friends must navigate through the perils of high school’s junior year.

But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice at the worst possible moment.

Soon, nothing in Portland, Oregon, seems safe. To save themselves from drowning, it’s only Tavia and Effie’s unbreakable sisterhood that proves to be the strongest magic of all. 

An NPR Best Book of the Year - 2020

A Macmillan Audio production from Tor Teen

“An enthralling tale of black girl magic and searing social commentary ready to rattle the bones.” (Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times best-selling author of The Belles)

©2020 Bethany C. Morrow (P)2020 Macmillan Audio

Critic Reviews

“I love this book so, so much! Bethany C. Morrow delivers a blistering modern classic with this gorgeous tale of friendship and power. A Song Below Water somehow manages to be intensely happy and sad at the same time and all in the balance of great, riveting storytelling. The best YA novel I've read all year.” (Daniel José Older, New York Times best-selling author of Shadowshaper)

“Morrow masterfully blends the real lives of Black girls in contemporary Portland with a mythic world of sirens, gargoyles, and other supernatural creatures to create a compelling coming-of-age story in which two sisters, bound by love and fate, find their voices and their power.” (Rebecca Roanhorse, Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell Award winner, author of Trail of Lightning)

“Empowering and full of surprises, A Song Below Water reminds us how important it is to use our voices, even when we’re afraid. Morrow has created a world that’s both familiar and brimming with fantastical creatures, and the result is timely, necessary, and utterly captivating.” (Akemi Dawn Bowman, award-winning author of Starfish and Summer Bird Blue)

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What listeners say about A Song Below Water

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Thank you.

This book was just what I needed in these heartbreaking times. I’m 53, a former high school English and drama teacher, and a white suburban woman. Bethany’s voice - and the message she is sharing through Tavia and Effie - should be heard by all women and girls. The story made me necessarily and appropriately uncomfortable at times. I have gained perspective and am grateful for that. I love the characters and the creative way of conveying such an important, metaphorically rich- while being realistic - story. Thank you for sharing your voice. I will be exploring more of your writing, and wish you all the best.

33 people found this helpful

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Not at all what I expected!

Granted, I have a terrible habit of buying/borrowing books because of the cover being appealing and not bothering to read the synopsis - 🤷🏾‍♀️ sue me. But I definitely was not prepared for all of the mythical creatures in a story that also touches on the everyday struggles of a black girl. I LOVED it . . . And I kind of want a gargoyle now 😁🤷🏾‍♀️

4.75 stars

8 people found this helpful

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Absolutely wonderful

This book made me feel seen as a Black girl but it handled the subject matter with such grace. It was all that is good about fiction and fantasy but made the story unapologetically Black and diverse. Love Love Love

6 people found this helpful

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This story is so relevant!

I highly suggest listening to this book! it is full of current events affecting black and brown people today! racism, sexism and add on supernatural speciesism. Only downfall is the next book doesn't come out until 6/21. I already pre-ordered it!

4 people found this helpful

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Black Mermaids? Yes!

The plot gets a little slow/lost in the characters' reflection at times but it is an overall fun, smart, and necessary story. It's amazing as a black reader (and a mer hobbyist myself) to feel like my experiences are an inherent part of a fantasy narrative. Love the sisterhood between the main characters!

3 people found this helpful

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Keeps You Hooked

I enjoyed this book. Ren Fair, mythical creatures, mystery,social justice. It's got a litt le bit of something for everyone.
3 stars for performance because the two different voices sounded so similar, so it was difficult to tell who was speaking sometimes.

3 people found this helpful

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Great story Bad actor choice

Amazing book, I love Black authors that write fantasy and magic, there's nothing like it. But Black voice actors would have made this MUCH better. The vernacular and certain terms aren't translated well with the chosen voices. Any Black girls that love mermaids like me should DEFINITELY read this book though.

2 people found this helpful

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Just couldn't get into this one

Mermaids, Sirens, Gargoyles.......just not my cup of tea. I like all kinds of books and genres but this one, I couldn't grasp. #Book24of2020 #bookworm #whatsnext

2 people found this helpful

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Great world and characters! Physical may be better

The story itself was just pretty good (there's a major plot point that is weakly written), but the world building and the characters are Awesome! This was beautiful to visualize. I love the message behind the world and the story too. 4 stars

One of the readers leaves something to be desired. She has a strange cadence in her sentences; very often, she pauses and has a declarative tone 3 words shy of the end. of the sentence. It's very jarring. She's an odd choice for a reader. It was hard to understand who was speaking at times too. This book may be great to read physically. 2 stars

1 person found this helpful

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THE ESSENCE OF BLACK GIRL MAGIC.

I loved this book once I finally got through it. It took me months to get pass the first couple of chapters because I wasn’t ready to face my fears with black trauma. I go to books and films that are filled with fantasy so I don’t have to constantly face reality. Reality can be suffocating, I don’t have to revisit things that are always around me. Whether my life actually matters or if I’ll ever stop holding my breath when I see a cop. However, once I finally got the courage to keep listening I COULDN’T stop!! The magic in this book with the sprinkle of reality made my feel proud to be who I am. I didn’t have to “try” to understand how the characters felt because I’ve been there too, I still am. Being able to connect with this story so well gave me a sense of community and that I should be proud of who I am. That I am walking magic and I don’t need fit in and I will probably always standout because I’m that special. I am Unique.

1 person found this helpful

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  • BPW
  • 05-28-22

Random but somehow interesting

There’s no real story here but somehow it kept me engaged because I like random stuff 😂 so if you want something to trigger you whilst keeping you engaged with random stuff like gorgons, sirens, sprites etc 👀 give it a listen.

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  • Michela
  • 12-13-20

Sirens, gargoyles and other mythical creatures

An amazing, surprising novel about two sisters trying to discover their own real selves, voice and power, while always supporting each other. A number of intriguing mysteries unfold and are eventually solved in the story, while fascinating characters slowly reveal their roles and connections to the unaware protagonists. Chilling, way too believable acts of violence and ignorant discrimination against some of the mythical creatures, added to horrible racism, are fiercely fought: black (sirens') lives matter, indeed. However, the novel is not gruesome nor morbid, and the ending is satisfying and optimistic. The narrators are brilliant.

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  • Emma
  • 08-11-20

Excellent performance

Great book overall. The plot starts slowly but I was hooked all the way through the second half. Well worth a listen.

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  • J. LoVecchio
  • 06-24-20

so good!

I have so many feelings
Lots of triggery things, racial violence and oppression of minorities and parental death and lots of skin picking/trich triggers and manipulative adults

But this book is so fantastic and I loved it so much even when it made me cry. The characters are rich and deep and I really hope there is more of their story