(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
Suddenly the voice she prized is now dangerously seductive…
Lorelei Clark’s only concern was her future as a classically trained soprano, that is, until the day her father was tragically killed. Shattered by his death, she hesitantly accepts an invitation from a mysterious aunt to visit her lavish oceanside home in Cape Cod. She quickly discovers that her aunt and the two women who live with her are harboring a frightening secret they are sirens, terrifying mythical creatures responsible for singing doomed sailors to their deaths. Even more astounding, Lorelei is one of them. In this new world where water comes alive at her touch and an ancient power pulses beneath the tide, the most important rule Lorelei must learn is that a siren never interferes with fate. When she breaks this rule by rescuing a handsome sailor who should have died at sea, the sirens vow she must finish the job or face grave consequences. Finding herself inexplicably attracted to him, she must fight to keep him safe from the others, even if it means risking her own life, and her heart, in the process.
[Full disclosure: I requested and received a free ebook copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
I’ve actually read quite a few books about sirens now since they seemed to be trending in YA for a while, but the thing that attracted me to Serenade especially was that the main character was a classically trained soprano. I love opera and I decided to see if Emily Kiebel’s take on sirens was different from that of the other books in her niche. Thankfully, it was.
The world-building in Serenade is actually much better than in most siren books. In this version, sirens don’t lure people to their deaths, they just soothe them as they die because it’s the will of Fate. They don’t really control their power but at the same time they can’t escape it because the sea will always call to them. Of course this makes for some interesting moral dilemmas like “What if I don’t want to help people die for the rest of my life?” or “What if someone isn’t ready to die?”. It’s that last question that gets Lorelei in some serious trouble, but it presents an interesting answer to the question of whether or not sirens really have free will.
Not only was the world-building pretty good, I liked Lorelei as a main character. She absolutely loves singing and is willing to defy her own mother to pursue a career in opera. When her father dies in an accident right before her eyes, you really do feel for Lorelei even though you’ve pretty much just met her. It’s a rare author that can make you truly connect with a character so quickly, but Emily Kiebel managed to do it. My only problem character-wise was the secondary characters. None of them really stood out for me; they were more average in terms of being fleshed out and I didn’t really connect with any of them, even our handsome sailor that Lorelei rescues and falls in love with.
As for the plot, it takes a while for Lorelei to get her bearings as a siren so it’s not exactly fast-paced in the beginning and middle of the book. There is a lot of tension, though, as she wrestles with many moral dilemmas surrounding her siren calling. But the action really doesn’t get going until she saves someone who is supposed to die. Then pretty much everything goes to the dogs in her family and Lorelei is faced with killing a man who isn’t ready to die or risking exile and knowing he’ll be killed anyway. It’s really not a good situation and I like the little turn of events at the end. Still, I think Serenade could have been a little faster paced without sacrificing the character development.
This book doesn’t release until July 15th, but I definitely urge you to pre-order it. It’s one of the best books in the siren sub-genre of YA that I’ve read lately and I have to say that Emily Kiebel really knows her opera (although that’s just a bonus when paired with the world-building and main character).
I give this book 4/5 stars.
*Not yet available for pre-order.