Monday, June 11, 2012

Lies Beneath (review)

3.5/5 stars

For the past couple of years I've been on the quest for a good mermaid book.  Long ago I quit looking for fantastic or great and have just been waiting for the first serviceable mermaid book.  Lies Beneath, while it has plenty of flaws, is better than every other mermaid book I've read.  It's a paranormal romance, a little heavy on the romance for my taste but it's not really pretending to be anything else. (If I read a romance then complain it's a romance that's my fault).

The book is dark.  The mermaids are not fluffy Disney mermaids.  They are monsters, lurking beneath Lake Superior looking for their next victim.  They feed off positive human emotions, dragging unlucky swimmers or boaters to their deaths.  We've seen evil Mermaids before but these are more well done. These Mermaids are not one note or oversimplified.  They kill because they crave happiness, something they can never have on their own.  The main character, Calder feels guilty about the killings but still feels the need to kill.  While his sisters may seem simpler at first glance, there are hints that they have more complex feelings as well.

There is the usual stalking and watching that we've grown to expect in paranormal novels.  At least in Lies Beneath it's MEANT to be creepy and isn't really romanticized.  Calder is very self-aware.  He knows he's a predatory monster and doesn't pretend to be an old-time gentleman protecting Lily's virtue.  In fact, he's staking out her house because he's planning her father's murder.

For the most part I like Lily.  She's a little overdescribed (another paranormal trend) and a little bit too perfect leaning a tad towards the Mary Sue.  But she's smarter than your average paranormal lead.  With very few clues she figures out the mermaid secret all on her own, though she thinks they're more along the Disney variety.  She's willing to make big sacraficises, but not for the normal reasons.  She takes risks to protect her family.  That's a refreshing change from all the female leads who give up everything for a boy they've just met.  In the end, I find her under-reaction to certain things a little suspect but she's still acceptable.

This book moved a little slow for me.  As always I wanted more action and less romance.  But the world and mythology were well built, the overarching plot was something that actually mattered and Calder was an interesting narrator.  As far as mermaid books go, this is definitely a step in the right direction.


roxanne s. sukhan said...

I like that this book makes mer-people into dark, monstrous creatures that kill to steal happiness. Great review.

veela-valoom said...

I agree. It was an interesting take on the mermaid legends. I've read quite a bit of mermaid mythology and you can go either evil or not fairly easily. The darkness made this one interesting.