Guest post by Angel Mirant
Merman Rising by M.S. Kaminsky. Kaminsky has penned the book he would have loved to read as a teen—blending action and fantasy with a tender, nuanced exploration of affection between two young men.
The tale centers around seventeen-year-old Delphin, a merman grappling with a life bound by rigid rules and an authoritarian father. His journey of self-discovery unfurls within a context hitherto unexplored in literature—the complex, mystic universe of mermen. Kaminsky’s approach to the merman trope is innovative, infusing new life into this fantastical archetype.
Historically, the concept of mermen is steeped in maritime lore and ancient mythology, with Triton—the merman son of Poseidon—being perhaps the most iconic figure. While mermaids have been heavily represented in literature, their male counterparts have largely lurked in the shadows, their narratives uncharted. Merman Rising not only brings this underrepresented character to the fore, it also breaks new ground by portraying him within the LGBT+ narrative, pushing boundaries and challenging norms.
Kaminsky’s Merman Rising isn’t just about challenging norms within the world of his protagonist, it’s also about doing so within the realm of YA literature. It’s about creating a narrative space where young LGBTQ+ readers can see themselves represented authentically and vibrantly, and non-LGBTQ+ readers can broaden their understanding of diverse experiences and perspectives.
Delphin’s journey is not merely an adventure, it’s a narrative of acceptance, both of oneself and of others. His budding romance with Elias, a human boy, serves as a powerful symbol of breaking free from societal norms and expectations. Their relationship, filled with warmth, affection, and understanding, is a heartening representation of young love. Kaminsky delicately weaves this romance into a larger narrative that grapples with the tyranny of tradition, the toxicity of power, and the potential salvation of prophecy.
Merman Rising paints an expansive portrait of love, self-discovery, and resistance against the forces of oppression. Kaminsky’s novel resonates with readers not only because it’s a fun and thrilling fantasy tale, but also because it’s a deeply personal labor of love—an homage to the stories that Kaminsky himself yearned for as a teen, and a gift to today’s readers who are yearning for the same.
As we turn the final pages, it becomes clear that Merman Rising is more than just an underwater adventure. It’s a wave of change in the literary ocean—a bold reimagining of what a merman’s tale can be, and a vibrant celebration of love in all its diverse and beautiful forms.