Rating:

Reviewed by Cal C.

Siren, Tricia Rayburn’s first novel aimed at Young Adults, falls pretty squarely into a familiar genre for its audience: supernatural romance. Vanessa Sands has always played second fiddle to her gorgeous, fearless, outgoing older sister, Justine, but they were still remarkably close. One night, however, after a fight at home that reveals Justine’s relationship with Caleb Carmichael to her whole family, Justine runs away… and washes up on the beach the next morning, dead, leaving Vanessa and the rest of her family bereft and confused. While Vanessa’s family returns home, she opts instead to return to Winter Harbor for the remainder of the holiday season to try and piece together any explanation she can for why her sister might have killed herself.

The romantic aspect is pleasantly underplayed for the first two-thirds of the book as Vanessa investigates Justine’s death and Caleb’s subsequent disappearance with Caleb’s older brother, Simon. The investigation keeps the plot moving along at a healthy clip, but Rayburn smartly keeps the pacing extremely measured, more concerned with introducing and building up all the important characters and locations than with revealing and combating the titular monsters. Vanessa and Simon have an easy chemistry, but it’s the scenes where Vanessa is alone, facing her fears without her big sister for the first time, that really sell the character.

Unfortunately, however, the final third feels extraordinarily rushed. Relationships that had been building slowly are suddenly laid bare, while conflicts we had only just begun to understand consume the whole story. The climax seems rushed and a bit cluttered, and the villains are given extremely short shrift. Finally, a late-game twist doesn’t entirely mesh with what we’ve seen before, and casts some characters in an entirely different light.

[amazonify]1606840746[/amazonify]Ultimately, Siren is an enjoyable mystery/romance that falters as it approaches the finish line, but remains a satisfying read. Rayburn displays confidence and skill when approaching the book’s quieter moments, which makes her handling of an underused and potentially fascinating mythology all the more disappointing. Despite its flaws, however, Siren is a quick, engaging book you won’t want to put down.

Check out Tricia’s blog, Maggie Musings & More.

Cal is a young, underemployed librarian and a frequent contributor to Read/RANT comic book reviews. He’s currently living in the suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio, with his family and using the post-grad-school grace period to read and write as much as he can.

This book was provided free of any obligation by EgmontUSA. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.