Book Review: Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn

Book Review: Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn

The children imitate razorfangs and I am without yet another night’s rest.

Zin E. Rocklyn’s Flowers for the Sea sees them join the likes of Octavia Butler and Meg Elison. This book pushes the boundaries of identity, human relations, and storytelling; showcasing an author who has and will continue to challenge perceptions and ensnare readers. Rocklyn pushes us to witness Iraxi; to explore the Other and ruminate on life. 

Hope has no place on this vessel of death and disease, aimless and everlasting in its path.

Rocklyn takes a world that could fill pages and crafts a sleek yet lush novella. There are no extraneous bits of information; all that remains are necessities. A world is torn asunder not only by calamitous natural events but by humanity and prejudice. This is difficult to convey in a mere 112 pages, yet it is done successfully. Readers will be pleased to find that they have the room to stretch their imagination, thus making them an intricate part of the story rather than an observer. 

From razorfangs to races unlike those of current human experience, Flowers for the Sea crosses genre boundaries. Rocklyn uses horror, science fiction, and fantasy to craft an award-winning piece of speculative fiction. At times beautiful and others horrific, it is a compelling and thought-provoking experience. Readers will hate Iraxi. They will love her and be angry with her. This investment, this witnessing, marks a great writer. Without this manifestation of personal involvement, what happens to Iraxi does not matter. 

… and being the only with an unexplainable gift breeds jealousy, breeds an underlying hate fed by distance and ignorance.

Iraxi’s journey is one of impending motherhood, of self, and of how one exists in a world that despises her. Rocklyn weaves social commentary into this novella of pain and anger. Much like life, there are small flashes of beauty that shine through the struggle of a woman whose existence and determination matches those of so many in today’s society. It causes the reader to break through their lenses, to see and feel through the experiences of another. 

Flowers for the Sea by Zin E. Rocklyn (Tordotcom, October 2021)

Flowers for the Sea showcases the skillset and magic that Zin E. Rocklyn is capable of bringing to the written word. It is not just another book to read, but an experience that must not be missed. 

The children imitate razorfangs and I grind my teeth, sharpening mine own. Preparing.