Anne Greenwood Brown
Paranormal Young Adult
Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Available June 12th
Received through Teen Book Scene and NetGalley for review
THE STORY (from Goodreads)Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy.
But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother's death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family's homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock's daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting girls.
Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there's more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.
MY THOUGHTSWith a dark premise–merfolk who feed on the positive emotions of others, pulling every ounce of happiness from them in brightly colored strands to leave nothing but lifeless bodies in their wake–and a rare male first-person point of view, Lies Beneath has the potential to be the type of read that lingers in our memories for an indeterminate amount of time after finishing. Unfortunately, events move forward at a pace that has us wondering when all the intriguing intricacies promised us in the synopsis are going to begin to unfold, and we’re given characters who lack some of the beautifully rich depths found in the very waters they inhabit. We are but spectators in this tale, passive observers who can see the waves of Lake Superior crash against the shore but not feel the spray on our faces, and who understand that a love is blossoming between predator and prey but don't fully experience the tension radiating from their unlikely pairing.
Ms. Greenwood’s mermaid (and merman) mythology is truly fascinating–emotional cannibals who thrive on the stolen feelings of human beings, thus causing a clench in our guts as we realize just how far we’ve come from the beloved fairytale versions of the same creatures. While we are equally horrified and fascinated by their nature, we never truly feel consumed by their desire to kill since Calder has denied his basest urge to take a life for six months when we’re introduced to him. Because he seems to find it relatively easy to overcome the murderous desires his three sisters continually struggle with, the sense of danger is only a light breeze on the back of our necks rather than a great gust that causes our bodies to erupt in chills.
Our relationship with Calder and his sisters is in direct opposition to their relationship with humans in the story: where the prey in this tale are vibrant and overflowing with life only to end up mere husks, we begin reading this tale empty but expectant, waiting to be filled with and enveloped by the emotions of the characters, but instead we’re left much the same at the end as we were when we started. Overall though, Lies Beneath is well-written and has all the makings of a truly enthralling and hypnotic anti-fairytale, we just can’t help but wish the characters would pull a strong emotional reaction from us they way they do their victims so that we would cease being decorative lures bouncing on the surface and would instead find ourselves yanked beneath the waves for a more terrifying and exciting experience.
*Confession: I wrote this review months ago, and as I was editing it last night before it posted I noticed how heavy-handed I was with the water theme. I squeezed a ridiculous number of water references into a short 3 paragraphs. Well done Jenny, well done. O_o