Pearl, Tooth, and Eez are a pod of three mermaids who have a taste for the alcoholic beverages they find in underwater shipwrecks. Fresh out of booze, Eez uses her magic to turn the members of her pod human so they can get alcohol from the source—dry land. As kismet would have it, they stumble upon a bar called The Thirsty Mermaid, where they imbibe to their hearts’ content, paying for their drinks with a credit card they “foraged” from some cargo shorts on the boardwalk. The following morning they wake up in the alley outside the bar, hungover and suddenly aware that Eez might not actually know how to turn them back. Their friendly bartender from the prior night, Vivi, takes pity on the ex-mermaids and offers them a place to crash and help getting assimilated. As Pearl and Tooth each find jobs and adjust to life on land, Eez becomes increasingly distressed with her inability to turn them back.

Unsurprisingly, considering Kat Leyh’s previous work on Snapdragon and the popular Lumberjanes series, Thirsty Mermaids has a delightfully diverse cast of characters. There is gay, trans, and nonbinary representation, as well as BIPOC representation. Additionally, the mermaids are surprisingly diverse in appearance, which is refreshingly different from most existing mermaid media. Pearl is chubby and curvy with a purple-and-black-striped fishy tail, and her long black hair has an undercut. Tooth has sharp teeth, a narwhal-like horn, and pointy ears, paired with an orange shark fin tail on her tall, broad body. She wears strips of fabric as a post-apocalyptic bra top, her hair in a messy mohawk, and, as her sole accessory, a necklace she made out of teeth from the sharks she’s defeated in battle. One look at Tooth makes it clear that she is not a mermaid to be messed with. Eez is lithe with red eyes, a gaunt face, and white hair. She has a series of geometric tattoos running across her arm and chest, and an ethereal touch that indicates that she is the powerful spellcaster of the bunch.

The full-color illustrations are lovely. Each full-page spread has a dominant background color for its panels. One page taking place in The Thirsty Mermaid may have dark magenta backgrounds, and the next page will be at Vivi’s apartment and be predominantly mustard yellow. Since Thirsty Mermaids is a beach story, extra care is taken to bring in a vibrant summer color palette, so most pages feature lots of bright orange, blue, yellow, or pink. This aesthetic and setting will please Steven Universe and Adventure Time fans.

In general, Thirsty Mermaids feels like an adult Steven Universe in its themes of chosen family—known in this book as “pods” —plus the meeting of fantasy and real-life worlds. The significant amount of nudity and rampant drinking puts this squarely in the adult section, though the themes and story are likelier to appeal to tweens and teens than adults. Purchase where the Boom Studios comic adaptations of irreverent cartoons are popular, namely the aforementioned Steven Universe and Adventure Time, as well as where older Lumberjanes fans are looking to move on to a more adult title.

Thirsty Mermaids
By Kat Leyh
Gallery 13, 2021

NFNT Age Recommendation: Adult (18+)
Creator Representation: Gay,
Character Representation: African-American, Gay, Nonbinary, Trans,

  • Shira

    Youth Services Librarian, Northville District Library | They/Them

    Shira is from the DC area and is currently a Youth Services Librarian in Northville, Michigan. They have been involved in ALA in an Association for Library Service to Children committee, a Graphic Novels and Comics Round Table committee, and as an elected member of the Executive Board of the Rainbow Round Table. When Shira is not putting comics and queer books into the hands of excited children and teens, they can be found snuggling all the cats, playing drums in rock bands, or testing out recently-purchased board games. Shira also writes professional reviews for School Library Journal and AudioFile Magazine, plus not-so-professional reviews of Baby-Sitters Club books in exhaustive detail for their Goodreads profile (username Shiramario).

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