This novel takes place in the 1800s and follows two siblings, Mercy, and Mat, who were captured after their village was raided in Africa. With that, I want to let everyone know that THIS IS NOT A SLAVE STORY. I’ve seen many people say that they want to read historical fiction novels surrounding Black people that don’t revolve around slavery, so I think this would be a nice change for some. While it touches on that topic, this book is much more than that.
Mercy has no memory of her homeland or that she even has a brother. She was raised in the United Kingdom by Mrs. Whitworth, who told her that her father was an African King who died and left her an inheritance for her upbringing and education. Though Mercy may get rugged looks from time to time, she does not know much about slavery or racism. She is a princess and has been groomed to be an educated and sophisticated young woman.
When Mercy’s caretaker dies, she is moved to London, where she will live with Dr. and Mrs. Stephens. She begins to work as an assistant for Ms. Stephens in her fight to end slavery. Ms. Stephens got several side-eyes from me during some of her conversations and speeches on abolishing slavery but….okay girl. What Mercy doesn’t know is that Dr. Stephens had played a significant role in her upbringing and knew her before she was taken in by Mrs. Whitworth.
Mat is Mercy’s older brother and remembers being captured. He remembers his parents being slaughter and being shackled and forced to travel by boat to the UK. While his life has been much harsher to him than Mercy, he was able to escape slavery. While on the slave ships, Mat showed that he could be an asset by often helping out during travels. He has done all that he can do to survive while never forgetting his sister. He’s already lost his parents and refuses to lose his sister too. He is determined to find her. The problem is, how can you find someone who doesn’t know they’re lost?
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Mercy wasn’t my favorite person at first, but she eventually grew on me. From the very beginning, I got a sense of arrogance from Mercy. I tried to see things from her perspective, though. Mercy considers herself high-class, has no first-hand knowledge of slavery or the struggles that black people face, and feels like she is on the same level as everyone else she comes across and that others see her as equal. Not quite realizing that these people don’t see her in the same light.
I loved Mat’s dedication to finding his sister, his resilience. He’s been dealt a rough hand, and he takes it in stride. Midway through, you start to see him lose hope. The author does a great job of portraying that to readers because I tried hard not to shed a tear.
Overall I give this book five stars. It held my attention from beginning to end, it has a good pace, and I was very intrigued by each character. By it being historical fiction, I was also able to learn some new facts about things that happened with slave ships during that time (I won’t give the story away). This was a good break from the YA Fantasy that I’ve been reading lately.
Thank you NetGalley and Bookouture for the advanced copy of this book.
Daughter of the Shipwreck hits shelves on August 10, 2021