Sea Serpent’s Heir, Book 1: Pirate’s Daughter by Mairghread Scott & Pablo Túnica

Siiiiigh. I’m sure lots of people will love this book but it is not, unfortunately, for me.

Premise: young Aella hates living on her remote fishing island, and longs to run away and have real adventures. Her mother Ryanna is constantly away at sea herself, leaving Aella to be raised by a coterie of friends and neighbors. Ryanna keeps promising that she’ll take Aella with her on one of these journeys, but the years pass and she never does.

Then a ship of knights from the Church of Thenas show up. The knights are demon hunters, and they’ve come to the island of Kinamen in order to find and kill the greatest demon of all. The sea serpent Xir is the daughter of the moon and sea, and is prophesied to destroy the world. The knights are here to ensure that that doesn’t happen, and to behave as boorishly as possible in the process. The townsfolk put up with their behavior, as there is no other choice really. The youngest and still most idealistic of the knights, Bashir, is apologetic, so is set to double guard duty by his more cynical superiors while the others rest.

Aella comes in from fishing and instantly falls in love with what she sees as a literal knight in shining armor. The innsfolk try to shoo her off home, but she decides to sneak back in and see if she can meet Bashir and set off on the adventure she’s always craved. Bashir listens to her story of dreaming about demons and tries to introduce her to his superiors. They, however, see the scales on her arms and immediately assume she’s the demon they’ve been looking for.

Naturally, all hell breaks loose. The innsfolk and islanders immediately come to Aella’s defense as all the knights except Bashir try to kill her. Aella reacts like a total infant, blubbering that her friends are all murderers when, idk, they’re trying to prevent her from getting killed by armed knights actively trying to murder them first? Anyway, the story is all downhill from there, as Aella slingshots between being ridiculously naive to being completely heartbroken and vengeful, mainly because of a boy. There are going to be readers who deeply relate or otherwise think this makes for awesome reading, but I am not one of those people.

Which is too bad, because I do like a good novel of the sea. Pablo Túnica’s art is nicely kinetic, with a touch of the gruesome (lots of bulgy flesh and strange marine adaptations) to go with the breakneck pace of the action. I just didn’t feel like Aella’s character progression made any sense, or at least not the kind I could empathize with. It’s weird that she was never taught to distrust the church or how not to take strangers at face value, and weird that she was basically given a fairy tale long-lost princess upbringing when the people around her knew what she was at least potentially capable of doing. While I can be okay with a marshmallow pacifist heroine, her character progression just demands too much sympathy for her poor choices.

Sea Serpent’s Heir, Book 1: Pirate’s Daughter by Mairghread Scott & Pablo Túnica was published October 18 2022 by Image Comics and is available from all good booksellers, including

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  1. […] a vast and welcome improvement on the tepid first volume! In fairness, that compliment applies strictly to the story, as Pablo Tunica’s art has been […]

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