Review: Flowers for the Sea by Zin. E. Rocklyn

Flowers for the Sea is a dark, dazzling debut novella that reads like Rosemary’s Baby by way of Octavia E. Butler.

We are a people who do not forget.

Survivors from a flooded kingdom struggle alone on an ark. Resources are scant, and ravenous beasts circle. Their fangs are sharp.

Among the refugees is Iraxi: ostracized, despised, and a commoner who refused a prince, she’s pregnant with a child that might be more than human. Her fate may be darker and more powerful than she can imagine.

Zin E. Rocklyn’s extraordinary debut is a lush, gothic fantasy about the prices we pay and the vengeance we seek.

Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn

Title: Flowers for the Sea | Author: Zin E. Rocklyn | Publisher: Tor | Pub Date: 19/10/2021 | Pages: 112 | ISBN13: 978-1250804037 | Genre: gothic fantasy/horror | Language: English | Source: NetGalley | Starred Review

Flowers for the Sea Review

Some books use a wide angle lens, giving you the big picture. They let you see a lot of moving parts and may have multiple point of view characters so you can see the pieces moving as the story comes together.

Other books use a zoom lens and have a narrow focus. Flowers for the Sea falls into this category, and phew, Zin. E. Rocklyn takes readers up close and personal for this tale. This isn’t a story where someone lays out the particulars of the world so you can orient yourself first. Instead, Rocklyn takes us right into Iraxi’s life and circumstances. She’s pregnant, and not exactly happy about it, despite the fact that we soon learn there are no successful pregnancies in her world now. She’ll be the first. Iraxi’s different because of her current circumstances, but she’s also different because of her heritage, and she’s an outsider on an ark, trying to survive in a hostile future world.

What really comes through is her sense of loss and how displaced Iraxi is. Rocklyn writes from the perspective of the minority, the outsider, the person rejected by the masses. There’s a deep sense of loneliness and isolation, but also pride. Iraxi doesn’t try to conform to earn acceptance. You’d think she’d be happier about having a child because she’d have someone, but she isn’t, and her sentiments are raw and honest. Would-be parents can relate to the dilemma of bringing children into a dying world.

Iraxi’s also been absorbed by her pregnancy, and she doesn’t view that favorably, either. She’s tolerated because she’s needed and as the story progresses, it’s hard not to feel her anger towards the other occupants of this ark because they’re cruel and petty. And Iraxi’s unapologetically angry, which was refreshing. This is a genuine character you can relate to, not someone portrayed as noble or saintly to make us like her more. Nope. She’s completely herself, and screw you if you don’t like that. I love her attitude and the strength of her character.

The world Rocklyn’s built is intriguing and you get the sense that Rocklyn could set a lot more stories in this world. Rocklyn walks a fine line between giving us just enough information about the threats plaguing the people of the ark and the creatures that attack them, ensuring we’re aware of the fears and realities, but leaving just enough to our imagination to heighten our fears. Good writers know that what’s left off the page is just as crucial as what’s on the page, and I think that’s part of the reason this story lingered in my brain so long after I read it.

Powerful and evocative, Rocklyn’s crafted a memorable story you won’t soon forget. I found Flowers for the Sea engrossing from the start, and it builds to a stellar finish. Rocklyn’s an author to watch, a must-read for fans of weird horror and dark fantasy.

This review first appeared at Sci Fi & Scary

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