Anne Greenwood Brown
Lies Beneath #1
Genre: YA, Dark Fantasy
Calder is enjoying himself in the Caribbean when he is abruptly called back to the shores of chilly Lake Superior by his sisters. Their blood calls them to avenge their mother, and it just so happens they finally found the man who can satisfy their blood lust. Calder is recruited to seduce Jason Hancock's daughter Lily in an attempt to gain his trust and get him alone on the water so his sisters can strike. Everything is going fine until Calder develops feelings for Lily and must fight between his emotions and his animal instincts, or risk losing the only warmth he has ever felt.
Murderous mermaids indeed! This dark take on possibly one of the most fanciful mythical creatures is breathtaking in its morbidity. Lies Beneath was a first for me in a couple of ways. First, it was my very first paranormal romance about mermaids. I hadn't yet taken the plunge into mermaid fiction as it seems to have been met with mixed reactions, but when I saw the cover for this one and read the blurb, I had to give it a go. As a friend recently pointed out to me, I tend to lean towards darker fantasy as opposed to fluffy fairy stories. With that in mind, this really was the perfect introduction to mermaids in popular fiction for me.
The other first that Lies Beneath presented me with was a first-person perspective, starring the male lead. I have read fathoms of paranormal romance from the perspective of the naive, human girl, but never have I come across a YA story told by the seductive otherworldly guy. A tale told by the predator has an entirely different tone. Had the narrative been more traditional, Calder's initial murderous intentions would have been unrelatable and could have very well made this more disturbing than darkly delightful. Thanks to Brown's foresight on this, you get to see their violently beautiful existence through his eyes, rather than discovering a completely alien way of life as experienced by another clueless teen.
One of the things I enjoyed the most about Lies Beneath was that the author stayed away from the Disney incarnation of mermaids and even poked a bit of fun at Ariel. Brown seems to have molded her merpeople around the dangerous sirens found in Homer's The Odyssey; those tantalizing, yet vicious creatures who lured sailors to their deaths in the murky depths. Calder and his sisters thrive off of absorbed energy from humans they drag beneath the waves. Creepy? Oh yes, but the author's well developed mythology and vivid writing style make this a tale about how truly transformative love can be for the soul.
The only issue I had with this fantastic first title in the new YA series was that there were some continuity problems. Especially near the end of the novel when the hectic climax was in full-tilt, I found that certain events weren't explained enough or were just dropped entirely. I don't know whether this was because they will be expanded on in the coming sequel, or if the author lost sight of them during the frenzy and hoped readers wouldn't notice. Regardless Brown's writing style, while wonderfully depictive, reveals that it is still in need of development.
The Final Verdict
An impressive debut that fans of dark fantasy will delight in.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from Netgalley and Random House Publishing in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated for the views expressed above. All opinions are my own.