cover image Sailor Twain

Sailor Twain

Mark Siegel. Roaring Brook/First Second, $14.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-59643-636-7

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. Twain secretly brings her aboard, stows her in his cabin, and nurses her back to health, developing a strong attachment to her in the process. As he begins to learn her story, he recognizes that it may have a connection to correspondence between Dieudonné de Lafayette, the womanizing proprietor of the steamboat line, and writer C.G. Beaverton. Lafayette spends his days in endless conquest of the women who board his steamboat, which keeps him distracted enough that he doesn’t discover Twain’s secret stowaway. What readers eventually discover about the mermaid and her world brings about a series of dramatic events that lead to the story’s remarkable conclusion. Siegel’s strength as a storyteller is in knowing precisely how to balance the verbal and the visual, sometimes taking us for two or three pages on a wordless sequence that says so much more than dialogue ever could. As well, the manner in which he presents both the real and the fantastic shows his profound understanding of both worlds. (Oct.)