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‘The Oyster Thief’ is Sonia Faruqi’s debut novel concerning the value of marine life, and what could happen if huge corporations violate precious underwater commodities. It’s a story spoken through two main characters. Coralline, a young mermaid living in the underwater world of Meristem, who is engaged to be married. Izar Eridan is the son of Antares, head of Ocean Dominion, a corporation that seeks to destroy the ocean’s beloved coral reefs and precious marine life. Coralline has passions in life, yet feels bound to rules and restrictions within her controlling mother. This pull toward normalcy is disrupted as a tragic oil spill, triggered from one of Izar’s ships, wreaks havoc in Coralline’s world, sickening her younger brother Naiadium. She then goes on an adventure to seek out a legendary elixir to heal him.
Izar, meanwhile, discovers suspicious events leading up to the oil spill disaster. These events seem to lead to the answers of his personal origins. His journey leads to a shocking revelation, yet he abruptly awakens in the ocean as a merman, suffering what he feels is a vicious attack. He then runs into Coralline, and he learns about her quest for the legendary elixir. He then joins Coralline to claim the cure (secretly for himself) in order to restore his human nature.
I deeply enjoyed reading The Oyster Thief. The character development with Coralline was quite significant. She grows from a woman who fears breaking rules due to the opinions of many into a strong person who ventures out to claim what is rightfully hers. She endures quite a change in character, as great obstacles get thrown into her path. Izar goes through quite a change in character himself, as his mindset as a big corporate conglomerate shifts dramatically as his mindset of the underwater world shifts dramatically due to Coralline sharing with him the ways of ocean life.
I also enjoyed reading about the underwater would of Meristem. Sonia Faruqi beautifully wrote about an ocean world that co-existed beautifully with the land of Menkar. Since there were two parallel perspectives throughout the novel, we have a dual viewpoint of Coralline’s life of these ocean communities, and Izar’s life above ground and his ocean ‘quests’.
It was also quite lovely to read about the relationship between Coralline and Izar. Their origin stories were destined for their paths to never cross: Izar was raised to run Ocean Dominion; and Coralline, a mermaid, represents everything that Izar stands against. It takes Izar’s transformation as a merman, combing the waters with Coralline and her muses (known as bonded sea animals), that opens Izar’s mind to the beauty of ocean life and its inhabitants. As the book progresses, their friendship deepens, creating a love triangle that sends both Coralline and Izar into their own personal conflicts. I will say that the third part of this novel was filled with many emotional scenes, as Coralline and Izar’s quests lead to their dramatic conclusions.
Sonia Faruqi wrote a very captivating debut novel, and I look forward to reading more tales from her in the future.
Trigger warning: ‘The Oyster Thief’ contains a scene describing sexual assault.