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Staff Reviews

As a white person with unfortunately little background on myths and legends told by slaves in America, this book was intriguing with its mix of historical accounts, mythology, and magic woven together. Yemaya emerges out of a cocoon and travels as a young girl through the American South and then along the Underground Railroad pursuing her lost love Obatala, a slave harshly grabbed from the shore in Africa and brought to America on a slave ship. She has mystical powers of healing that help slaves as they escape the cruelty of slave owners. I enjoyed the mix of history and spiritual strength shown in the story.

— From What Amy is Reading


“Spellbinding...A captivating debut.” —Harper’s Bazaar

In this stirring and lyrical debut novel—perfect for fans of The Water Dancer and the Legacy of Orïsha series—the Yoruba deity of the sea, Yemaya, is brought to vivid life as she discovers the power of Black resilience, love, and feminine strength in antebellum America.

Shallow Waters imagines Yemaya, an Orïsha—a deity in the religion of Africa’s Yoruba people—cast into mid-1800s America. We meet Yemaya as a young woman, still in the care of her mother and not yet fully aware of the spectacular power she possesses to protect herself and those she holds dear.

The journey laid out in Shallow Waters sees Yemaya confront the greatest evils of this era; transcend time and place in search of Obatala, a man who sacrifices his own freedom for the chance at hers; and grow into the powerful woman she was destined to become. We travel alongside Yemaya from her native Africa and on to the “New World,” with vivid pictures of life for those left on the outskirts of power in the nascent Americas.

Yemaya realizes the fighter within, travels the Underground Railroad in search of the mysterious stranger Obatala, and crosses paths with icons of our history on the road to freedom. Shallow Waters is a nourishing work of ritual storytelling from promising debut author Anita Kopacz.

About the Author

Anita Kopacz is an award-winning writer and spiritual advisor. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Heart & Soul Magazine and Managing Editor of BeautyCents Magazine. When she is not writing, you can find her on the dance floor or traveling the world with her children. Anita lives in New York City with her family.

Praise For…

"A riveting and heartbreaking story strengthened by Kopacz’s superb ability to create a sense of place. Fans of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s The Water Dancer will want to take a look"
Publishers Weekly

"A fairy tale for American adults, Anita Kopacz’s spellbinding first novel imagines the Yoruban mermaid deity Yemaya as she follows a fleet of slave ships across the ocean in the mid-1800s... A captivating debut."
— Harper's Bazaar

"Whether or not raised on Western religion and mythology, readers will gain fresh understanding of an African mythic realm through Yemaya’s distinctive voice. Highly recommended"
— Historical Novel Society

"We transcend time and space as Yemaya herself grows from a tentative young woman into the powerful deity she's destined to become... this novel crosses genre as easily as it does time."
— Buzzfeed

"Kopacz's commitment to a vision of healing even while detailing tragedies shapes this tale's themes of redemption and the universal soul. Most remarkable is Kopacz's abilty to maintain a brisk narrative pace as she delves into the weighty issues and complex experiences that shaped Yemaya's quest."
— Booklist

"Fascinating and lyrical... a story of true love, resilience, strength, and love."
— Women's World
Product Details
ISBN: 9781982179663
ISBN-10: 198217966X
Publisher: Atria/Black Privilege Publishing
Publication Date: August 3rd, 2021
Pages: 224
Language: English