Flowers for the Sea

Tor.com. Oct. 2021. 112p. ISBN 9781250804037. pap. $13.99. HORROR
DEBUTDark fantasy and horror work in tandem, gently overlapping at first, before violently colliding in this captivating and disquieting novella. Iraxi lives with the remnants of humanity on a ship, helplessly floating on the sea surrounded by the dual threat of tentacled monsters from below and “razorfangs” from above. It has been 1,743 days since the land flooded and became uninhabitable. Iraxi is the last of the “nims,” who have a magical connection to the sea, but their power is no longer revered. The story is framed around Iraxi’s final days of pregnancy up to just after she gives birth, a pivotal moment for these survivors as no one has been able to birth a live baby on board, and most have died trying; it also features flashbacks to Iraxi in the before-times. Told in language that is both lyrical and spare, employing immersive but efficient worldbuilding, this story engages all five of the senses, allowing readers to physically experience the dread, claustrophobia, and fear but also the wonder, awe, and hope.
VERDICT Rocklyn has written an astounding story that will leave readers begging for more, recalling other critically acclaimed novellas like Priya Sharma’s Ormeshadow and P. Djèlí Clark’s Black God’s Drum.
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