Publisher: Tor Teen (June 2, 2020)
Praise for A SONG BELOW WATER
“Morrow expertly and smartly explores race, bigotry, oppression, and injustice against a backdrop of ordinary life with a dose of the supernatural added to the mix. A Song Below Water is a must-read for lovers of fantasy and contemporary stories alike. ” ―Booklist, starred review
“Morrow has deftly woven a contemporary tale with mythical elements to take on the invisibility and marginalization of Black women, touching on issues such as misogynoir, body image, social justice, and generational trauma. Empowering and innovative. Morrow elevates mermaids and sirens to legitimate and compelling vanguards for social change.” ―School Library Journal
“A watery and melodic crossroads of the real and the mythic, A Song Below Water lures readers with its seductive and beautifully black siren song. An enthralling tale of black girl magic and searing social commentary ready to rattle the bones.” ―Dhonielle Clayton, New York Times bestselling author of The Belles series
“I love this book so, so much! Bethany C. Morrow delivers a blistering modern classic with this gorgeous tale of friendship and power. A Song Below Water somehow manages to be intensely happy and sad at the same time and all in the balance of great, riveting storytelling. The best YA novel I've read all year.” ―Daniel José Older, New York Times bestselling author of Shadowshaper
“Morrow masterfully blends the real lives of Black girls in contemporary Portland with a mythic world of sirens, gargoyles and other supernatural creatures to create a compelling coming-of-age story in which two sisters, bound by love and fate, find their voices and their power.” ―Rebecca Roanhorse, Hugo, Nebula and John W. Campbell Award Winner, author of Trail of Lightning and Star Wars: Resistance Reborn
“Empowering and full of surprises, A Song Below Water reminds us how important it is to use our voices, even when we’re afraid. Morrow has created a world that’s both familiar and brimming with fantastical creatures, and the result is timely, necessary, and utterly captivating.” ―Akemi Dawn Bowman, award-winning author of Starfish
“A rich, intricate dive into mythology, misogynoir, and the way the world makes black girls out to be monsters. Like the siren's song, A Song Below Water is irresistibly compelling.” ―Heidi Heilig, award-winning author of The Girl from Everywhere
“The world is lush and intense, the voice intoxicating, and the message eternal. Morrow will have you under her spell from page one.” ―L.L. McKinney, author of the Nightmare-Verse series
“A compelling tale packed with endlessly inventive magical concepts, blazingly current social commentary, and heroines you'll fall hopelessly in love with. I'm obsessed.” ―Sarah Kuhn, author of Heroine Complex series
“A Song Below Water is a lush, colorful, and deeply moving masterpiece about mythology, the sometimes masked evils of racism, and all the ways the world hurts black girls. An irresistible and perfectly bewitching read that I couldn't put down!” ―Jay Coles, composer and author of Tyler Johnson Was Here
“A Song Below Water is a captivating tale about the magic of sisterhood and the importance of being seen for who you truly are.” ―Parker Peevyhouse, author of The Echo Room
“An exciting new contemporary fantasy. In this parallel world, black female empowerment is standing up for yourself and others while simultaneously navigating love, physical and emotional violence, and the responsibility of immense supernatural power.” ―Kirkus Reviews
But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation; the girls’ favorite Internet fashion icon reveals she's also a siren, and the news rips through their community. Tensions escalate when Effie starts being haunted by demons from her past, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice during a police stop. No secret seems safe anymore—soon Portland won’t be either.
CHAPTER ONE: TAVIA PART FOUR
I recognize Rhoda Taylor even though she hasn’t been in the press much. Her picture showed up on the evening news the weekend after her live-in boyfriend murdered her, but only because social media had been circulating it and demanding to know why no one seemed to be saying her name. Now there’s a BREAKING NEWS banner under her picture — and it isn’t a picture I’ve seen before.
There’s only one reason a dead Black woman would suddenly make the news...
I shouldn’t open the video and I definitely should’ve muted it first, but it feels like there’s a tornado in my guts and I’m not thinking straight. My throat feels hot, like someone’s striking metal against a flint.
Recent murder victim.
I only catch fragments. It doesn’t matter; I already knew. As soon as I saw the thumbnail photo, I knew. There’s only one reason a dead Black woman would suddenly make the news, only one reason her boring HR employee photo would be replaced with one where Rhoda’s eyes are red from the flash and her mouth is open like she’s in the middle of talking. Or moaning. However they’re implying we entrance our hapless victims.
The defense is saying the deceased was a siren.
Which means maybe she wasn’t a victim after all.
The video has captions, so when I realize the community center has great acoustics, I finally mute it. It doesn’t stop the familiar, unsympathetic voices from blaring in my head.
Sirens, they say, and anyone listening knows it’s a dirty word.
Danger, they report, and they’re talking about the danger she posed, never the danger we face.
The world is closing in on me, and in the community center, I feel the wall at my back. There’s a wet echo all around, and it’s sad but I’m relieved when I remember that I’m alone. The news people, the talking heads who for once will all agree with each other, they aren’t talking about me — at least not as far as they know. My chest is jumping with a jackrabbit pulse and it’s beginning to hurt.
But no one knows.
I’m still safe.
I must have slid down the wall because soon I find myself sitting on the floor. If it’s damp, I don’t notice. If I’ve lowered myself into one of the many wayward puddles decorating the pool area, I can’t tell. What matters is that no one can look over my shoulder. No one can see what I’m seeing — even though according to the viewer count, literally thousands of people already have.
I turn off my phone; this is something not even the iconic Camilla Fox, naturalista goddess, can fix.
Because Rhoda Taylor was a siren. Like me.
I think I’m going to be sick.
Copyright © 2020 by Bethany C. Morrow
Photo Content from Bethany C. Morrow
Though sociology and forensic psychology will always be among her passions, writing has been a lifelong endeavor. Whether in novels for the YA or adult market, novellas, short stories, stage plays, television pilots or short film scripts, Bethany's speculative literary fiction uses a focus on character and language to engage with, comment on and investigate worlds not unlike our own.
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