Review: Shimmerfish by Bethany Browning

Shimmerfish by Bethany Browning
Sonoma MediaWorks (October 2023)
126 pages; $4.99 paperback
Reviewed by Chandra Claypool (Instagram) (TikTok)
Shimmerfish is a coming-of-age horror about a young woman who flees abuse and finds a new world filled with the enchantments of mermaiding. She’s got her tail, her mer-sona and a mer-name, but something feels fishy, and she’s forced to confront her deepest fears in order to uncover the truth.

cover of ShimmerfishInstantly I’m intrigued and I LOVE mermaid horror so tag me in!  And while there ARE mermaids here, they’re only people pretending to be mermaids and not actually real ones.  Cue disappointment.  But we do have mer-witches!

I am a huge fan of good word play but there was a bit too much for my taste in this read. I was most definitely fin-ished at 31% through. A hundred mer-cent …. It is not mer-mazing unfortunately.  Do you hear me, sea-ster? ?

I like the concept of mer-witches but I’m a bit unsure about how I truly feel regarding this combo. What the hex.  But I did enjoy Anemone as a strange character.

Amy Jay, who ran away, is our main character and I found her to be just ok.  I enjoyed some of her storyline and while I can suspend reality most of the time there were just too many things happening here that just didn’t make sense.

This story just wasn’t at all what I was expecting and it didn’t quite work for me. However, if you have an inkling toward mermaid life (no real mermaids here unfortunately) with a splash of thriller weirdness, grab your mono fin and dive right in.

Shimmerfish is a good fit for those seeking a coming-of-age horror story with a unique blend of quirky characters, suspense an a touch of magical realism.  Get witchy with it.


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