My interests have vastly changed during this pandemic. I learned a lot about myself, and I have learned what I would like to spend some more time doing. Things are going to change in my posts, and I feel that a warning is in order for those who may not be interested. If you are not interested in more political content, then my future content may not be for you. My political views are very far to the left, so if you do not agree with that then I also suggest that my future content may not be for you. I am in no way going to state that what I will be writing is straight facts, they will be merely my opinion on the topics that I would like to discuss based on what I am reading. My posts will still remain book-themed in nature, but will be more akin to essays rather than blog posts. I will pepper in more light-hearted posts from time to time, but for the most part I would like to spend my spare time researching and sharing my thoughts on topics that I feel matter. I can’t be a bystander anymore.
As a kid, I was enamored with mermaids and all things underwater fantasy. So, as soon as I saw this beautiful cover, I was immediately drawn to this novel. It’s shorter than most books I read, but that didn’t mean it lacked any of the detail I usually find in longer novels.
A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow is a tale of two best friends (and basically sisters), Tavia and Effie, who struggle with both typical high school drama and siren related drama. There is a whimsical blend of mythos and reality that I really enjoyed, especially sense it brought up mythical creatures that I don’t think I have seen often in past books that I have read. Usually I get a little bored when a character goes on constant thought spirals in between dialogue, but every spiral had something insightful to add to the narrative, so I thoroughly enjoyed those bits.
Warning: The rest of this review may contain spoilers…
Here is a little bit about the book:
Tavia is already at odds with the world, forced to keep her siren identity under wraps in a society that wants to keep her kind under lock and key. Never mind she’s also stuck in Portland, Oregon, a city with only a handful of black folk and even fewer of those with magical powers. At least she has her bestie Effie by her side as they tackle high school drama, family secrets, and unrequited crushes.
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.
Here is what I loved most about this book: The magic and the self acceptance. Magic is something interwoven with modern society in this novel, and I absolutely love it.
A Modern Twist on Mythos
First of all, that gargoyle? Amazing. There are some wonderful twists that involve this stone character, and I highly recommend reading this novel if you’re wondering about what exactly those twists are. (Minor spoiler: The gargoyle isn’t who you think they are…)
Next on the mythos list, the siren. Sirens are hated and feared, which makes it hard for Tavia to truly be herself. A sirens voice holds power, and the people are afraid of it. It is seen as an excuse to paint a victim of murder as a villain despite the lack of evidence. This is part of the main conflict that Tavia faces because after her favorite social media influencer comes out to announce that they are a siren, which furthers the tension between Tavia and her father.
Lastly, there is the true form of Effie. I won’t spoil that because it was so much fun to see the little clues throughout the novel, which elude to the big twist at the end. The big reveal is one of my favorite parts of this novel and it definitely tops the cute dialogue between Tavia and the gargoyle.
There isn’t much for me to say about this particular part, except that I adore seeing these two girls grow throughout the novel. The ending is honestly just the beginning of the sisters’ story, and I think that is the perfect way to end it.
Here is my rating:
So it turns out that when you give sims free will, they will just watch tv or play on the computer. I’ve always been one to micro-manage my sims lives, so maybe I have just been impatient. Either way, I am invested in this story so I will use what I have and continue.
“What?” Vivian exclaimed, drawing the looks of other customers in the coffee shop, “Why didn’t you tell us sooner?”
Mia laughed, “I kind of forgot.”
Despite the hint of annoyance in her eyes, Vivian was relieved that they were leaving their small town so soon. It would only get colder in the passing days, so it was best to move all of their things before the cold would be too much to bear. There was only so much a warm cup of hot chocolate could do.
“Mia,” Steven started with a humph, “There is no way I could possibly be ready by tomorrow.”
Jack grinned, “Yeah, Mia. You need to give him time to pick the right turtleneck for the occasion.”
Steven frowned, “They’ll be the next fashion craze, just watch.”
Mia couldn’t help but smile at the three of them. It’s as if the years spent apart never occurred. They were already back into their old routine of friendly teasing and casual arguments that always ended with their bond only being strengthened. At that moment Mia knew that things were going to be great from now on.
“You know,” Steven started with a loud grunt from the weight of the box he held, “You can help me out with this. I’m not the only one with working arms.”
He was the first to arrive at the apartment, and Mia was already exhausted from preparing the place for everyone’s arrival. Right after their meeting at the coffee shop, she had gone straight to the apartment to sleep in her freshly made bed. It was already furnished and decorated by her in the last week; she knew that they were all going to agree before she had even set up the meeting.
“But you’re doing so well!” Mia smiled, “Plus, I’m like, half your size. There is no way I could carry even the smallest of boxes you have in your car.”
Mia had already claimed the bedroom with the best view. It was evident by the various boyband posters covering the walls and the stacks of books that littered the floor. There was a perfectly good shelf on one wall, but that was already filled with pictures and figurines that she had gathered over the last four years.
Steven grunted his disapproval with how much a mess it already was and moved down to the next doorway, which opened into the second largest bedroom. He promptly dragged his boxes inside with a heavy sigh and disappeared behind the door to unpack for the next few hours.
Vivian and Jack arrived at the same time and Mia watched as Vivian brought in several suitcases full of clothes, shoes, and makeup. Jack didn’t have much with him, which he explained was because he wanted to start fresh in the city. Both took a minute to marvel at the grand living room, which was surprisingly clean despite the messy habits of Mia. It seemed she had contained the mess to only her bedroom for the sake of the others.
Once everyone was settled in, which took almost the entire dinner, they decided that it was best to order a pizza and call it a day. Jack ordered a few pizzas and some garlic bread. Everyone took a moment to take in their surroundings. No one had any idea what they were getting themselves into, and no one really cared. They had this amazing apartment and what seemed like endless possibilities.
“Hey, look!” Jack exclaimed, pointing to the large bay windows that looked out at the city.
Large, fluffy snowflakes were drifting down from the gray sky. They fell onto the pavement below and melted almost instantly, but they would soon pile up overnight. It would blanket the hard cement below and turn it into a glistening wonderland.
“It’s beautiful,” Mia smiled.
Even Steven looked pleased. No one would admit it out loud, but they were all glad to be sharing the first snow of the year with each other in their new home.
Here is the basic plan for this series of chapters. As I mentioned before in my announcement for this, Sims do some pretty weird things when left on their own. I have made a few Sims with different personality traits and aspirations, and for the first chapter, I am just going to have some exposition. After that, the story will be driven by what they do.
I will, however, give myself a little advantage by using my imagination in order to keep the story going. This is more of a writing exercise for myself, and the sims are the writing prompt.
Without further delay, meet the characters!
- Friend of the world
- Loves Outdoors
- Master Chef
- Fabulously wealthy
- Cat Lover
Quick note before you begin reading: This chapter is going to be short. It’s really just an introduction to the story, and since this is more of a writing warm-up I would like to keep it rather brief in order to give myself time to write other things as well. Also, the title is yet to be determined, so until then I will just have the title of the chapter. Thank you for understanding, and I hope you enjoy chapter one!
All four entered the coffee shop at completely different times. Mia, the punctual one, was there first and five minutes earlier than the scheduled time. She was, after all, the one who had set up this meeting. Jack was second. He entered the door, the bell hanging from the very top chiming sweetly, right as the clock struck three o’clock. As soon as his eyes met Mia’s he knew exactly what was up. Even after 5 years, she hadn’t changed one bit.
Steven arrived shortly after jack. The cold had frosted up his glasses, and with his trademark scowl, he stopped right in front of the entrance until the warm coffee shop air cleared them up. When they did, his gaze was already set on the two waiting at the table just ahead of him. Even though his scowl remained, the two knew that he was glad to see them. But, instead of sitting down with them right away, he took his time pestering the barista with a long list of things he wanted in his chai tea latte.
While he continued to correct the barista, Vivian sauntered through the door with a nose bright red from the cold wind that blew outside. She wasn’t dressed at all for the weather. Even from a distance, they could see the goosebumps dotting her arms underneath her lace cardigan. It was just like her to throw away all common sense in the name of fashion.
Mia was already finished with half of her coffee by the time everyone got settled around the small, square table. It was just plain black coffee with at least twenty packets of sugar emptied into it. Unlike the other three, that was all she ever ordered from coffee shops. Some things she refused to change.
“You’re probably wondering why I have gathered you all here today,” Mia exclaimed, waving around her manicured hands with great flourish.
“Just cut to the chase,” Steven grumbled from across the table after taking a long sip from his latte.
“Yeah,” Vivian agreed. She glanced over at Steven, her cheeks flushed, while she continued to warm her hands with her hot chocolate. Her light makeup did nothing to hide the slight circles underneath her eyes.
Jack said nothing. Instead, he offered Mia an encouraging smile.
“Ok,” Mia was all smiles, “Remember that pact we made back in middle school?”
“Of course,” Steven scoffed, “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Well,” Mia began, “I found this amazing apartment in the city, but I can’t afford it all on my own. That’s when I had an amazing idea to bring our group back together! It’ll just be like old times!”
“Why don’t you just ask your parents for help?” Vivian asked, “Aren’t they like, crazy rich or something?”
Mia let out an exaggerated sigh, “I’m tired of always relying on my parents. I want to become my own person.”
“Then why do you need us for this?” Steven asked impatiently.
“Because,” Mia pointed aimed her puppy-dog eyes at Steven and Vivian, “I already put the down payment on the apartment, but I don’t have enough to continue paying rent,” She took a long sip before adding, “But that isn’t why I asked you three to come with me. I asked you because I missed you guys and I figured you would want to ditch this small town with me.”
Jack smiled, “I’ll go. I’ve got nothing better to do.”
Steven rolled his eyes, “Seriously? You’re just going to go along with this idiotic plan of hers without even thinking about how crazy it is?”
Mia already knew that Steven wasn’t going to agree. That’s why she prepared a plan B for this exact scenario, “Steven,” She said with a sweet smile, “You know Tiger Lillian Publishing?”
Steven met her gaze, “Of course I have. They’re one of the best publishing companies in the world,” He frowned, “What does this have to do with anything?”
“Well,” She could see that his interested was piqued, “The apartment is just across the street from their headquarters. Isn’t that cool?”
He narrowed his eyes, “You’re lying.”
Mia shrugged, “You got me. The apartment is just in the same city, but either way, I just figured you would like to know.”
A pause settled in between the four, which was filled only by quiet sips and the quiet ambiance of the coffee shop. Outside the wind howled and grey clouds covered every inch of the once-blue sky. Eventually, the tapping of Vivian’s chewed nails joined the mix of background noise as everyone continued to exchange looks for another short moment.
“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to stay there for a bit,” Steven spoke hesitantly, “A little adventure might help with this writer’s block.”
Mia grinned, satisfied with the results. She knew Steven too well. He never ran out of ideas, but she knew better than to say it out loud, “That just leaves Vivian.”
All eyes were on her. Vivian’s eyes moved from Mia to Jack, and then lastly on Steven. In order to avoid having to give her answer just yet, she took a long sip from her disposable travel mug.
“There is a better fashion scene in the city,” She mumbled begrudgingly.
“Then it’s settled!” Mia exclaimed, “We leave tomorrow!”