Sailor Twain: Book summary and reviews of Sailor Twain by Mark Siegel

Sailor Twain

Or: The Mermaid in the Hudson

By Mark Siegel

Sailor Twain
  • Readers' rating:

  • Published in USA  Mar 2014,
    400 pages.

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Book Summary

Graphic Novel

One hundred years ago. On the foggy Hudson River, a riverboat captain rescues an injured mermaid from the waters of the busiest port in the United States. A wildly popular—and notoriously reclusive—author makes a public debut. A French nobleman seeks a remedy for a curse. As three lives twine together and race to an unexpected collision, the mystery of the Mermaid of the Hudson deepens.

A mysterious and beguiling love story with elements of Poe, Twain, Hemingway, and Greek mythology, drawn in moody black-and-white charcoal, this new paperback edition of the New York Times Best-Selling graphic novel by author/illustrator Mark Siegel is a study in romance, atmosphere, and suspense. Don't miss Sailor Twain.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about Sailor Twain. Join the discussion! You can see the full discussion here.

About the novel's ending
I was puzzled by the ending too. Which part of Twain was talking to Camomile? - Erin G

Ask the Author a Question!
Q. You published a playlist for Sailor Twain on your web site. Do you listen to music to create an atmosphere when you draw? Did any particular piece of music resonate with you while you were creating either the art or the narrative for the book? ... - kimk

Could the story have been set in another time period or place? How would making it a more modern tale have changed it? What if it were set earlier?
Because there was much belief in folklore and mythology in the late 1800s, I believe mermaids were very common to the populace. Being in an earlier time (as long as large boats and ships were part of the world) the story would survive as well. I don'... - Suzanne

Describe your thoughts about Siegel's drawings. In what ways did the artist's technique enhance your experience of the story?
As my first graphic novel, and one begun with much skepticism, I initially found the drawings annoying. One of the aspects of the reading experience I find so delightful is allowing the writers words to paint pictures that allow me to "see" the ... - edie

Do you approach a graphic novel differently?
I didn't intentionally approach this book differently, but the experience was different. The images were provided for me instead of from my imagination which, I think, had both positive and negative effects on my reading. I enjoyed the experience of ... - poniesnpearls

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Absolutely not to be missed." - Booklist  

"This extraordinary work of fiction pushes the graphic novel well beyond its previous limits.  The narrative takes us on many journeys through space and time, but is more than a mere tale.  It's about past and present, the absolute importance of myth, of language, of stories themselves.  In superb words and drawings, it also explores obsession and love in a way that is original to the genre, and to literature itself.  In the best sense, the completed work succeeds in a very difficult task: making the reader more human.  Bravo!" - Pete Hamill  

"Addictive." - Rachel Maddow  

"Wow.  Fabulous." - Robin McKinley  

"A gorgeous piece of work about moral conflicts, romantic distress, and fishy secrets." — Laura Kipnis  

"A romance in the truest sense of the word, Sailor Twain is a marvel of graphical beauty and complex, intelligent storytelling. Siegel creates a misty, magical Hudson river that is somehow realer and truer and mroe seductive and many fathoms deeper than the real thing." - Lev Grossman  

"I had a most engaging voyage on the doomed Lorelei and I much enjoyed meeting young Captain Twain - not to mention the mermaid in the Hudson. 
This is a gripping novel with compelling characters, enhanged by haunting, erotically charged drawings." - John Irving  

"Siegel's illustrations underscore the multiple themes of deceit and deception: softly blurred charcoal riverscapes transform the Hudson into a proving ground for dark magic, and the doe-eyed characters are nowhere near as innocent as they look. You're never too old for a well-told fairy tale." - The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"Graphic novelist Mark Siegel intertwines themes of obsession, loss and redemption in Sailor Twain: The Mermaid in the Hudson, a new book from First Second. Sailor Twain transports readers to the misty decks of the Lorelei steamboat, whose captain finds a wounded mermaid in the Hudson River." - Los Angeles Times

"In a work that calls to mind Conrad's enigmatic short story The Secret Sharer, we follow the story of Captain Twain, a steamboat captain who discovers a wounded mermaid clinging to the side of his ship." - Publishers Weekly

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Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Candy
Haunting
I read this book several weeks ago and wrote a review but find the book keeps drawing me back to it- I read it a second time and saw much more than at first reading. Well written and researched, I'll look for other books by this author.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by dannielle
My first graphic novel
I was very surprised to find myself held captive by this story. I have stayed away from graphic novels because I assumed the use of less words was not really relevant to reading. I was a word snob. This story held my attention but it didn't satisfy like a traditional novel.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by dlpiano
Sailor Twain
I was skeptical reading my first graphic novel, especially when I saw how lengthy the book was! I am pleased to say Sailor Twain was a fast, mysterious and enjoyable read! The graphics do not distract from the story line but help with visuals we all have in our mind while reading. I believe the author actually has more in the say of how you perceive the story line by directing your thoughts with the visuals. I am also amazed at the amount of artistic involvement that goes into a graphic book. In conclusion I thoroughly enjoyed my new experience of reading a graphic novel!

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Author Information

Mark Siegel Author Biography

Photo: Sonya Sones

Mark Siegel is the illustrator of To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel, a Robert F. Sibert Award Honor Book, as well as the author and illustrator of the picture book Moving House, published by Roaring Brook Press; and of Sailor Twain, published by First Second.

Author Interview
Link to Mark Siegel's Website

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