Sailor Twain Or The Mermaid In The Hudson Review

Rating: Eisner-nominated for best graphic novel (reprint), Mark Siegel’s Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson is a mystery, is...

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Rating: ★★★★★

Eisner-nominated for best graphic novel (reprint), Mark Siegel’s Sailor Twain, or The Mermaid in the Hudson is a mystery, is a reflection on human nature, and, most importantly, a love story.

From its first line, “Don’t call me Captain,” to its ending, with a lone survivor among a shipwreck, Sailor Twain draws much inspiration from Melville’s classic. Imagine an updated version of Moby Dick, illustrated, with a mermaid instead of a whale, and as a love story, and you get Sailor Twain. Of course, a case can be made that Moby Dick is already a love story, but Sailor Twain is a love story in a different sense. It is both a Romance and a romance, between man and woman, man and women, and man and mermaid.

Siegel takes us aboard the Lorelei, a steamboat traveling along the Hudson River in the late 1880s, and introduces us to several characters, both aboard ship and onshore, pulling us into their lives. Elijah Twain, the captain of the Lorelei, finds and rescues a wounded mermaid. Lafayette, the owner of the Lorelei, causes trouble as usual, taking a liking to any and every woman he can get his hands on. C.G. Beaverton, a famous author, comes out with a new book, “Secrets & Mysteries of the Hudson River,” that both Elijah and Lafayette find interest in.

The writing in Sailor Twain is fantastic. The story begs to be read in one sitting. Each chapter deepens the mystery, making it near impossible to put down. The characters are flawed and complex, with conflicting morals and Siegel’s writing, accompanied by his incredibly believable characters, makes his reflection on human nature all the more powerful.

As if everything about Sailor Twain isn’t already great enough, Siegel’s unique art style skyrockets it to a status inconceivably near perfection. Beautifully illustrated in charcoal, the scenes in Sailor Twain come to life with ease. Siegel is a master at conveying emotion through his character’s faces, giving them exaggerated, cartoonish facial features—most notably their enormous eyes. He makes effective use of shadows and light to convey mood and emotion within each scene. He often uses light to propel women to an angel-like status, accentuating their beauty.

Siegel’s writing and art blend together to create a magnificent story that leaves behind an impression that can’t be shaken. It’s one graphic novel you won’t regret reading.

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