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Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson

Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson

4.5 6
by Mark Siegel

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One hundred years ago. On the foggy Hudson River, a riverboat captain rescues an injured mermaid from the waters of the busiest port in the United States. A wildly popular—and notoriously reclusive—author makes a public debut. A French nobleman seeks a remedy for a curse. As three lives twine together and race to an unexpected collision, the mystery


One hundred years ago. On the foggy Hudson River, a riverboat captain rescues an injured mermaid from the waters of the busiest port in the United States. A wildly popular—and notoriously reclusive—author makes a public debut. A French nobleman seeks a remedy for a curse. As three lives twine together and race to an unexpected collision, the mystery of the Mermaid of the Hudson deepens.


A mysterious and beguiling love story with elements of Poe, Twain, Hemingway, and Greek mythology, drawn in moody black-and-white charcoal, Sailor Twain is a study in romance, atmosphere, and suspense.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In a work that calls to mind Conrad’s enigmatic short story “The Secret Sharer,” we follow the story of Captain Twain, a steamboat captain who discovers a wounded mermaid clinging to the side of his ship. Twain secretly brings her aboard, stows her in his cabin, and nurses her back to health, developing a strong attachment to her in the process. As he begins to learn her story, he recognizes that it may have a connection to correspondence between Dieudonné de Lafayette, the womanizing proprietor of the steamboat line, and writer C.G. Beaverton. Lafayette spends his days in endless conquest of the women who board his steamboat, which keeps him distracted enough that he doesn’t discover Twain’s secret stowaway. What readers eventually discover about the mermaid and her world brings about a series of dramatic events that lead to the story’s remarkable conclusion. Siegel’s strength as a storyteller is in knowing precisely how to balance the verbal and the visual, sometimes taking us for two or three pages on a wordless sequence that says so much more than dialogue ever could. As well, the manner in which he presents both the real and the fantastic shows his profound understanding of both worlds. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Raina Sedore
Have you ever heard a mermaid's song? Elijah Twain is the captain of a steamboat traveling up and down the Hudson River. When the French owner of the steamboat goes missing, the owner's brother suddenly adopts a playboy lifestyle. But why? Conceived as an epic tale—incorporating northeastern myth, literary legends, lustful temptation, slavery politics, and workplace ethics, this is storytelling on a grand scale. Although it's sexual content and complex mythology makes it suitable for only the most mature high school students and adults; those who read this story will consume this nearly four hundred-page volume in merely a sitting or two. The illustration level is uneven—some panels (notably a panel on page 29) have wildly different amounts of shading and texture than others. Most of the figures are drawn in caricature, which feels dissonant when rendered in charcoal. On the other hand, some of the illustrations are quite glorious, particularly using negative space to great advantage. While not a book for children, this is the very definition of a graphic novel. Though not perfect, this is true graphic literature. Reviewer: Raina Sedore
Library Journal
Another American mermaid beguiles an otherwise stalwart man in this graphic novel inspired by the greats of 19th-century American literature. Elijah Twain captains the Lorelei, a steamboat on the Hudson. One fateful night, he rescues an injured mermaid from its waters, closeting her in his cabin. Meanwhile, the behavior of the boat’s financial backer, a Frenchman named Lafayette, grows frenetically amorous toward its lady passengers. Unknown to Twain, Lafayette believes that his brother was taken by this same mermaid and is attempting to break her spell by juggling seven lovers at the same time. Sailor Twain was originally serialized online, and the story makes sly hints to Melville, Dickens, and, as one would expect, Mark Twain. Its atmospheric charcoal drawings contain elements of both menace and humor. An engrossing read from one of the most-respected artist/publishers in the field.

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From the Publisher

“Absolutely not to be missed.” —Booklist, starred review

“This extraordinary work of fiction pushes the graphic novel well beyond its previous limits. The narrative takes us on many journeys through space and time, but is more than a mere tale. It's about past and present, the absolute importance of myth, of language, of stories themselves. In superb words and drawings, it also explores obsession and love in a way that is original to the genre, and to literature itself. In the best sense, the completed work succeeds in a very difficult task: making the reader more human. Bravo!” —Pete Hamill

“Addictive.” —Rachel Maddow

“Wow. Fabulous.” —Robin McKinley

“A gorgeous piece of work about moral conflicts, romantic distress, and fishy secrets.” —Laura Kipnis

“A romance in the truest sense of the word, Sailor Twain is a marvel of graphical beauty and complex, intelligent storytelling. Siegel creates a misty, magical Hudson river that is somehow realer and truer and more seductive and many fathoms deeper than the real thing.” —Lev Grossman

“I had a most engaging voyage on the doomed Lorelei, and I much enjoyed meeting young Captain Twain--not to mention the mermaid in the Hudson. This is a gripping novel with compelling characters, enhanced by haunting, erotically charged drawings.” —John Irving

“Siegel's illustrations underscore the multiple themes of deceit and deception: softly blurred charcoal riverscapes transform the Hudson into a proving ground for dark magic, and the doe-eyed characters are nowhere near as innocent as they look. You're never too old for a well-told fairy tale.” —BCCB

Product Details

First Second
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.44(w) x 8.84(h) x 1.34(d)

Meet the Author

Mark Siegel was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in France. He is the editorial director of First Second and an accomplished writer and illustrator. He is the illustrator of To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel, a Robert F. Sibert Award Honor Book, written by his wife, Siena Cherson Siegel; and author and illustrator of the picture book Moving House, published by Roaring Brook Press.

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Sailor Twain: Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
A_Sloan More than 1 year ago
Real Objet d'Art Sailor Twain is a triumph of collaboration. Lore, history, social ethics, and romance swirl together, wearving a thing of ominous beauty. I am also so happy to find a book that revives the original ethos of mermaid folklore, of trickery and eroticism. And to top it all off, this is a graphic novel! Truly, an objet d'art.
ruidh More than 1 year ago
You are doomed. It's a maritime hazard. But is it possible to survive such a curse? This graphic novel takes you to 19th Century Hudson River where steamboats convey passengers and cargo between New York and Albany instyle . Chock full of maritime and period detail.
SDGidget More than 1 year ago
Heidi_G More than 1 year ago
Victorian-era New York, a steamboat captain staying true to his ill wife, a lecherous boat owner and a mermaid, all wrapped up in a hardcover graphic novel. The beautiful charcoal drawings really help tell the tale, making more believable the danger of both night and water. Captain Twain pulls a wounded mermaid from the water and hides her in his cabin until she is healed, receiving her promise never to sing to him. But will she still pull him into the depths of the Hudson River? How many men has the mermaid captured with her song? Nudity and a few drawings of sexual acts might put off some readers but are entirely appropriate to the story. A very enjoyable read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago