The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethell | Book Review


the shark caller book review

Hello! I finished my 200th book or the 200th I read since I started tracking my reading journey on Goodreads. I finished this book today on April 27 as part of Orilium readathon quest. By the time you find this blog post published, it might be on May (because you know, April is a busy month for me because of the blog challenge, hahaha). For the quest, I have to choose a book with butterly or moth in the cover. I looked for the book with this criteria on my Storytel, my library and my physical copies. It’s so difficult to find one under 300 pages because the quests were up on April 25, meaning I only have 5 days to complete all the new 5 prompts. The other 3 prompts I chose are : the book that you think will make you cry, the book featuring assassins and the book from the library.


When I browsed my Storytel app, I found this book (and I already know this book before because it’s been translated and published here) and randomly Googled for its bigger cover to see whether it has any tiny butterlies there. And I found them, the butterflies! So I instantly picked this book for the butterly prompt.


The Shark Caller by Zillah Bethell | Book Review

Length                                  : 8 hours 29 mins / 291 pages

Goodreads rating                 : 4,48 / 5

My rating                             : 5 / 5

Keywords                      : middle grade, ocean, Papua New Guinea, shark, culture, grief, loss of the loved ones,  friendship, family, book with butterfly on the cover, nature, book that will make you cry

Where to read                      : Storytel

Indonesian title                    : The Shark Caller – Sang Pemanggil Hiu

Publisher                             : Bentang Pustaka

Trigger warning               : death, loss of the loved ones, mention of world war, grief, witnessing the dead of parents, family member’s illness, torturing animal


"Desperate to become a shark caller to avenge the death of her parents, Blue Wing is instead charged with befriending infuriating newcomer Maple. At first they are angry and out of sync with the island and each other. But when the tide breathes the promise of treasure, can they overcome their differences and brave the deadliest shark in the ocean?" (Goodreads)





The Shark Caller is a beautiful well-written story about people who met and understood each other through grief and loss of the loved ones. We follow the story of Blue Wing, a girl who lost her parents 2 years ago and she lived with Siringe whom she called waspapi (or the person who takes care of someone and not their parents). One day a professor called Mr. Atlas Hamelin and his daughter Maple Hamelin came to the island for the coral study. They lived in Blue Wing’s family old hut which has been empty since the death of her parents. While Siringe accompanied Mr. Hamelin for his coral research, Maple and Blue Wing found their way to each other, recognized their differences in language and culture, finding the same pain and grief and understanding and helping each other. This book shows you how different people coped with guilt, grief and loss differently, but they’re connected by the similar feeling of holding the past and not move on from it.


What I love from this book is everything! The Shark Caller asks you to respect nature especially the ocean and animals inside it, as well as respect the dead and the living. This book also carries beautiful message to see beyond someone’s rude words or the shark’s anger. They tried to hurt you because they carried the wounds for so long. If you hurt them back, then you don’t make anything better, it applies to ourselves too. Maple mentioned about how it’s easier to fix other people’s wound than our own. This made me realize that most of the time we neglect our tiny sadness or complain and think that it can be dealt later, but it grows bigger over the time until we meet something truly different – a big wound that changes how we react and how we behave.

"It’s always easier to see how to fix somebody else’s problems. It’s much harder to fix your own."

This is the first book with the setting in Papua New Guinea and this book made me want to go to the beach. Zillah Bethell describe the land, the beach and the water perfectly and I can picture them all in my head. When Blue Wing mentioned “the long now” (the Pidgin English for “forever”), I pictured the endless blue ocean forward, and I think I learned my first few Papuan Pidgin English words through this book.


When I first got into this book I didn’t think this book would bring so many great messages and lessons, and I didn’t think I would love it this much. I only thought that this is a book with a message to love the ocean and animals which is a perfect book to read to celebrate Earth Day and to learn more about ocean and its animals. And I thought I might give this book 4 stars for the beautiful ocean, island and culture which are the whole new world for me. By the time Blue Wing and Maple interacted and talked about themselves and shared their stories, I couldn’t stop reading (listening to) this book. I finished 2/3 part of the book in one day and I couldn’t wait for the next day to know what will happen next. I cried when it mentioned about a scary big shark named Xok who hated humans and would attack them and the story about him. I cried when it’s about animal and how they show their feelings through their action because most humans can’t understand their language and act like they are not worthy because animals are animals.

the shark caller zillah bethell

I don’t live near beach or in an island surrounded by ocean, but I hope every creature inside the ocean are well and happy and there will be no humans who hurt them.


Oh no, I’m crying while writing this review.


This book really gives powerful impact for me as a reader.


I’m still having runny nose because of this book. Haha.


This is a short book under 300 pages but you will get great so many things from it. And I changed my mind about giving 4 stars for this book. The Shark Caller is a five star read!


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