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MERMAID STEEL by Jay Hartlove


by Jay Hartlove

Pub Date: Nov. 6th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-953469-10-6
Publisher: Water Dragon Publishing

In Hartlove’s fantasy adventure, a blacksmith falls for a mermaid despite the town’s disapproval.

Sten Holdsmith is a blacksmith who recently moved to coastal Saint Rochel. He’s hoping to start fresh after a troubled past and is aware that the town barely tolerates the Merrow (mer-folk) who live in nearby waters. When Sten tries to teach himself to fish, he ends up overboard and tangled in fishing nets. Luckily, Chielle Mmava has been watching him. She brings Sten ashore, mends his nets, and is more polite than his neighbors would have him believe of the supposedly savage “fins.” She also has large aqua eyes that stir the blacksmith. He teaches her how to shape a metal bracelet without fire, a great favor since there are laws against commerce with the undersea village of Celidan. Merrow men, however, have been using dangerous lava vents to create spearheads. The weapons help defend the aquatic Harper’s Meadow from encroaching Saint Rochel fishermen. As confrontations erupt, Sten petitions the High Lordship Jesery Clune to ensure fairness and peace. This endears Chielle to him. They fall in love, but will their respective cultures force them apart? Hartlove explores unconventional romance and the process of cultural erasure in his fantasy novel. As a transplant to St. Rochel, Sten observes that the brown-skinned Indru—like his 14-year-old apprentice, Jacio—have adopted the clothing of the Whites who worship the deity Atlan. Deeper culture shocks occur when Sten shares wine with Chielle’s brother, Thymon, who offers lionfish venom to the human. The Merrow way of life is fleshed out through their coral homes, which take years to grow, and their worship of Rorra (the ocean). Sten and Chielle’s sex life, and their attempts to find compatibility, is explicitly depicted. Sten’s arc shows that individuals deserve opportunities to start over even if violence or racism taint their past. An intense finale provides both communities the chance to rise above the low roads of xenophobia and revenge.

A thoughtful, erotic fantasy that asks readers to see the best in one another.