A slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, but her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth. Meaning, she shouldn’t exist. At her fifteenth sell Nym’s storm-summoning killing curse is revealed. She is purchased by a court advisor and given a choice: become a weapon to win the war or be killed. (from the publisher’s website
And for a moment I swear I can feel the sea waves calling, begging my blood to set us all free. Except just as with the Draewolf, my blood comes at a price. (p.5)
I’m like a death knell for anyone who gets near me. (p.179)
Storm Siren is a story of a young woman with extraordinary and uncontrolled powers, enslaved, vilified and blamed for deaths that occur around her. When she is bought by Adora, a scheming and lecherous court advisor, she is thrown into a political world that she may not survive. Training as both a spy and a weapon, she manages to form tentative friendships with a blind servant with a curious accent that is singular to her in the story, Breck, and her brother, Colin. Nym and Colin, a cheerful, likeable big guy with Terrene powers, are trained by the more mysterious Eogan. Eogan is clearly a love interest nearly from his introduction, an aspect I found to be handled very well throughout the story.
I can picture the disapproving look in his [Eoghan’s] green eyes. The clenching of his mouth. The surprise at thinking he knows me so well only to discover he hasn’t a clue. Poor overly serious man. He could do with a little letting loose one of these days.
Maybe tomorrow when I’m angry at him, I’ll tell him so. (p.93)
Nym is nearly everything you look for in a YA heroine. She is smart, tough, and loyal. She is beautiful but not perfect, with a physical handicap courtesy of a former owner. I love how filled with wonder she is when she sees the Valley of Origin (which I’m hoping will be revisited in more detail in book 2 or 3 of the trilogy). What I don’t like, though it makes sense in the context of the story, is that she practices self-harm in reaction to her feelings of guilt over deaths she feels she has caused. Having known some individauls who had past issues with cutting, it threw me out of the story each time as I wondered what their reactions would be to reading this.
I enjoyed all of the fantasy aspects to this story. Nym’s talent as an Elemental, Colin’s more earthbound Terrene abilities, Eogan’s abilities, the lore of the Draewolf, even the flesh-eating warhorses. While there were a few instances where an unfortunate word choice would stop me in my reading tracks, I quickly forgave them as the language of a fantasy world often has quirks that take getting used to. And there are some fantastic words, among them ‘bolcrane,’ both the name of a beast and almost a swear word.
It’s not me. It never will be. All the fancy. All the overindulgence of these paties in the face of Faelen’s people going hungry. All the war plans being talked over while real soldiers are out there getting slaughtered. (p.123)
Thankfully the political machinations weren’t too detailed or overdone and the world-building was more of a slow reveal, which works so much better for me than huge passages of info-dumping. I also appreciated that the font changed when a chapter started out with one of Nym’s nightmares.
Though not all are unexpected, the twists and turns do keep you on your toes. The writing and plot keep you wanting to read on and the ending – oh, that ending! It may not be an original device, but it took my breath away. Well done, Mary Weber! I’m almost afraid to start book 2, Siren’s Fury…almost.
Highly recommended for those who enjoy fantasy, somewhat impudent first person narration, political intrigue, traveller’s carnivals, powers that are difficult to control, friendship and betrayal, triumphs and heartbreak, the question of good versus evil, and a powerful slave girl who begins in abject misery only to find herself fighting alongside kings. 4/5 stars
Storm Siren, book one in the Storm Siren Trilogy by Mary Weber | Thomas Nelson, 2014 | 333 pgs, hardback (plus a brief excerpt of book 2 and a Group Reading Guide that addresses the issue with cutting)