Wednesday, May 16, 2018

People of the Sea

Salila, a Mar of uncanny beauty and brutality - image: pen and collage by Anna Campbel
When Helen Lowe blogged this month on Supernatural Beings in Fantasy: The Fey, I thought, what a wonderful idea. Inspired by her exploration of the Fey, this post focuses on another class of supernatural beings - The Merpeople, or people of the sea.

Elisabeth Jerichau Baumann's havfruen has much in common with the likes of Salila, the race of sea people appearing in my current novels.

Known through history as mermaids or mermen, melusines, sirens, Ved-Ava, water nymphs, nereids, these creatures are half human-half fish or dolphin/whale and live in the oceans, rivers, lakes and waterways. The symbolism is rich and fantastic, the subject of art, film and literature.

One of the earliest images of the merpeople is Ea, the Babylonian god of the sea. From him came the Greek god Posiden and later the Roman god Neptune, all male, powerful and half man-half fish or sea serpent. The first female image is the Syrian goddess Atargatis whose temple had large pools full of sacred fish. These ancient deities are linked to fertility, upheaval, the wealth of the Sea.

But Hans Christian Andersen brought the merpeople to the modern world with his tragic book about the young mermaid who falls for the human lad. It doesn't end well for either of them, though the Disney interpretation would have us think so.

Contemporary books featuring people of the sea, mermaid or otherwise, weigh in strong with hundreds of reads to choose from. Here are a few that I've enjoyed.

The 2017 film adapted from the novel by the same name - provocative, violent, horrific and alluring, a fitting interpretation of this being of land and water.

This book is a YA fantasy, powerfully written with provocative themes.

DS Murphy's enchanting story is the beginning of a series and probably could have been a longer more comprehensive read, but it's wonderful YA paranormal romance/urban fantasy none the less.

Urban Fantasy terrain both above and below the surface of the sea, my Ava Sykes series features Mar and human relationships, including the vivacious and hungry Salila and her unsuspecting love interests. The first book follows Ava's journey to discover the secrets of her past and the nature of the mysterious men in her life.

In my upcoming series, The Bone Throwers, the Mar play a vital role in the survival of the planet, on the brink of the next Great Dying. 

Here is a brief conversation between Ash, a young wordsmith and Kaylin, the sailor taking her to the Isle of Aku:

“What of your people, Ash? What stories do they tell in Baiseen?” 
I take a breath. “There is the idea that the Mar catch the sacrificed babies and free them from their chains. There have been sightings.”
“I’ve heard that too.” His fingers lift to play across my hand. 
I follow the movement, trying unsuccessfully to swallow a lump in my throat. 
“And what would a Mar do with the child?” Kaylin asks. “Once freed?”
“Some stories say they eat them.”

Do you have a favorite 'merpeople' story? I'd love to hear it in the comments!


Kim Falconer's latest release comes out in 2019 - The Bone Throwers, book one in the Amassia series, writing as A K Wilder. Find her new page on Facebook - AKWilder Author and on Twitter as AKWilder.

Her latest novel is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel.

Learn more about Kim on Facebook and chat with her on Twitter. Check out her pen name, @a.k.wilder on Instagram, or visitAKWilder on FB and website.

Kim also runs where she teaches the law of attraction and astrology. 

Kim posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month, hosts Save the Day Writer's Community on FB and posts a daily astrology weather report on Facebook. 


Helen Lowe said...

Besides The Little Mermaid (over which I've cried many oceans) I've always liked the powerful, dangerous, cruel and beautiful people from the sea in Patricia McKillip's Riddlemaster trilogy. And as a kid I was much taken with a book called The Deep Sea Horse. :)

Kim Falconer said...

Riddlemater! Yes!

Helen, there were so many images and books I wanted to post. I think I could have done a PhD theses on this topic. Now there's a thought! "From the sea comes all life..." :)