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Review: Becoming Leidah

Becoming Leidah book cover

Title: Becoming Leidah
Author: Michelle Grierson
Genre: Historical Fiction, Magical Realism
Page Count: 336
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Date Published: April 13, 2021
You can find it here: Bookshop.org


Set in 19th Century Norway, Becoming Lediah is the story of a unique woman rescued from the sea, the fisherman who saves her and their unusual daughter Leidah – born with blue skin and webbed hands and feet. Her mother, Maeva, tries to hide the girl from the suspicious townsfolk of Ørken, just as she conceals her own magical ancestry from her daughter. Maeva’s husband, Pieter, wants nothing more than for his new family to be accepted by all, going to great and stifling lengths to secure their safety. But unlike Pieter, who is blinded by love, Maeva is aware that the villagers are watching for any sign of transgression — eager to pounce and punish those who worship the old Gods and threaten their newfound Christian ways of life. Meanwhile, following both mother and daughter from the shadows and through time, an inquisitive shapeshifter waits for Maeva to finally reclaim who she once was.

Overall Thoughts

With its lyrical, poetical verse and haunting, ethereal atmosphere, Becoming Leidah is going to appeal to the reader who enjoys a story with slow, purposeful pacing and a good dose of weird. Never quite knowing exactly what is happening in this strange little story about a magical girl with webbed, blue appendages and her mother who is flaking patches of skin and collecting it to sew into a quilt … was a bit overwhelming at times, but I truly loved the beautiful writing on display here that kept me eagerly flipping pages. The book beats with a pulse of quiet urgency as you, the reader, are desperate to figure out the mystery of what is happening and how all things will connect – which they do, but in a somewhat open ended way.

Combining historical fiction, magical realism, and Norse mythology this is a truly unique reading experience that defies classification. For those who aren’t put off by the unconventional, this is a fascinating and exquisitely singular read that had me riveted from the first page.

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