In a small village in Barbados, folklore comes to life, putting Josephine and everyone she loves in danger.
Jo can’t stand to see her widower fisherman father with other women, going so far as relentlessly pranking them and scaring them all away. The two are an otherwise tightknit father-daughter duo who struggle a bit to make ends meet. Everything changes when Mariss comes along and simply can’t be scared away; though no one else seems to notice, Jo immediately finds this woman as terrifying as zombies, vampires, and spinach! Mariss moves in and unsettles their lives in peculiar and unexplainable ways. Bourne adeptly makes Jo’s anxieties both realistic and sympathetic. As Mariss has a hypnotic effect on everyone, carefully plotted pieces of something larger and more sinister come into focus. A last straw for Jo is that Mariss can negatively affect her cricket batting. She has to be a sea spirit or a mermaid—or something else. Maybe. Jo’s investigation, with the help of her best friend and the library, is compelling and suspenseful as it delves into Afro-Caribbean mythology. Still, when it becomes clear that the stakes are her father’s happiness and, ultimately, his life, the mystery woman’s most threatening power may be how convincingly she’s able to gaslight an 11-year-old and isolate her from everyone and everything important to her.
A heart-wrenching adventure with big laughs and well-earned surprises.(Fiction. 9-14)