Simon & Schuster’s SONGS FROM THE DEEP Blog Tour
Title: Songs from the Deep
Author: Kelly Powell
Page Count: 304 pages
Rating: 3 / 5 ✨✨✨
Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he’ one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.
Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too late—for humans and sirens alike.
“There exists inside me a blackheartedness that wants only for siren song and danger and blood.”
First, I want to thank the publisher for asking me to be a part of the SONGS FROM THE DEEP blog tour! This was one of my most anticipated releases of 2019, and I’m excited to have a spot on the tour, and to have been provided with an advanced copy of the book before its release earlier this month!
I absolutely loved the cover of this book, and the premise pulled me in immediately. I love reading about oceanic tragedies or mysteries, especially when they involve creatures, so this debut with sirens as the focal point was definitely right up my alley! Within the first few pages, I was immersed in the story, and I loved the atmosphere of this coastal island town, its inhabitants, its mysteries, and its lighthouse.
Unfortunately, the sirens that pulled me in didn’t play as big of a role as the synopsis or cover would have led me to believe. We aren’t given any solid backstory on them despite the fact that the sirens have coexisted for ages with the people on the island, and there are very few portions of the stories where the sirens are physically present. It felt like the sirens were used more as a plot device than anything else, a sort of catalyst for why x, y, and z plot points had occurred or were occurring. I wasn’t very happy with this, as it felt like the book was built up to involve them more, and then focused on less fantasy-esque things.
I avoid spoilers whenever possible in my reviews, but I did have an issue with a few certain plot points that it’s impossible to mention without explaining – so if you’re wary of spoilers for this book, please skip down to the next bolded section and beyond. Everything between this and that point is a spoiler!
During one part of the book, the main character discovers that her beau’s been hiding this siren in a room in his lighthouse. He explains it that his uncle is the one who took her, literally tortured her (mutilated and hurt this creature horribly), and kept her locked up – but in the book, it’s already explained that his uncle has been gone for quite some time at this point. While his uncle has been gone, Jude (main character’s beau) has “tried to help” by buying raw meat to feed her, but hasn’t told anyone or tried to release her on his own (despite how super light & easy to carry she is, as he states just a couple pages after Moira finds the siren). So, okay, he didn’t kidnap this creature or torture her – but he also didn’t tell anyone for like a year, or try to get help at all, even though his uncle is off at another lighthouse somewhere doing lighthouse business??? This entire section of the book felt oddly cruel and unnecessary, and nobody is ever really held accountable – least of all, Jude, who is known as being such a “wonderful” part of the community, and is hailed throughout the book as the primary male protagonist. It’s introduced, and then Moira forces him to free her, and then that’s that – nothing really much mentioned afterward. The sirens are very clearly personified as female, and this random violence and cruelty to one of them by a male character – or, more than one, as we later come to find out – just felt like more of the sirens being used as a plot device, without really fleshing them out as entities of their own (which sucks, considering the book’s cover and entire synopsis).
Another big issue I had with the book was that there is a heavy murder mystery theme, only the mystery is revealed in a way twice that feels completely premature, and lacking any actual surprise or big “aha!” moment. We spend most of the book trying to figure out who a couple of killers are, and then they’re both just overhead announcing their murders by the main character while she’s eavesdropping, because of course they are! It felt lazy, and I didn’t like it.
Spoilers end here! If you skipped the paragraphs above, you can keep reading from this point on, spoiler-free!
As far as the overall story went, I liked the world building, at least up until the siren portion, which I felt was severely underdeveloped. The lighthouse mythos, the nickname and position passed down through the generations, were really unique points, and I did think Jude had a really cool character. I didn’t like Moira very much – she was headstrong to the point of being very dumb, and causing more trouble and emotional upset than she seemed to care about – but Jude, and even Moira’s mom, felt like solid characters, and I liked the bits of dialogue throughout. The way things were worded often made me smile, as did some of the snappy retorts between both Jude and Moira.
Despite the issues I had with some of the key plot points, Kelly Powell’s writing itself is very strong, and the prose had an almost lyrical quality that I thought was very fitting for the theme and book itself. When she described the brutality of the island’s living conditions, or the harsh beauty of the sirens themselves, I found myself painting clear mental images from her words – she has a real knack for expressive description. Although this wasn’t quite what I was hoping for in terms of siren involvement and plot points, I can absolutely see it being adored by another reader, and I’ll definitely be checking out future releases from Kelly Powell when they happen!
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