Review: “Lies Beneath” by Anne Greenwood Brown

Title: “Lies Beneath”

Author: Anne Greenwood Brown

Genre: YA, paranormal

Release Date: June 2012 (expected)

Summary: 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 irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting 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.

☆: 4/5 – one of the better mermaid books I’ve read in YA in years!

Review: Are you getting sick of a lot of the mermaid tales flooding the YA market? Do you like your mermaids meaner? More predatory? And your story with a little more teeth to it? If any of those above statements describe your need for something a little more fierce concerning mermaids in YA, “Lies Beneath” delivers with murder, plotting, more murder, and in the middle of it, an unlikely romance between a girl and a monster. While “Lies Beneath” wasn’t entirely everything I wanted it to be, it was still one of the better mermaid reads I’ve had in the last few years. You can definitely bet I’m reading book two when it comes out next year.

What I think I loved about this book the most was how it not only made mermaids predatory, but had no apologies about doing so. They’re hunters. They take glee in taking their victims, and have no qualms (up until Calder, that is) in doing so. I absolutely LOVED this feature of Brown’s mermaids, and I hope she keeps it up in book two. I also loved Calder’s evolving conscience and moral quandaries, yet at the same time I did kind of want him to backslide a bit into his predatory nature.

While Brown’s world isn’t too different from ours – only the addition of mermaids and their evolutionary/biological patterns makes it different – it could have been a little more tightly packaged and polished than it was. I wanted to know more about Jack and Pavati and how the stories from Maine might have related a bit more to Calder and his sisters/mother. The worldbuilding was good, but it just could have been better, and that was a bit disappointing. What we were given, though, as backstory as to how these deadly mermaids functioned made up a little for some of the missing information. I’m hoping in book two we’ll get to see the ramifications of what happened to Lily’s father in the water at the end of the book carries over into Lily’s life, and whether that entire transformation will ever take place.

The romance wasn’t instalove, and for that I was immensely grateful. It was slow, it took awhile, and it happened under pressure. The problem of “should I love her? save her? or kill her?” that was the constant undertone of Calder and Lily’s relationship up until the end. While I still wanted more tension in terms of him really having to resist the urge to kill her, what I got was adequate enough to leave me at peace until book two.

As for the issue that’s really been bothering some readers between Tallulah and Calder – well, I thought it was a great foil to Calder and Lily’s relationship. I love how insanely jealous Tallulah got in the end, and how Calder chalks it up to “obsession” because real mermaids don’t really know what love is – that’s why they hunt positive emotions like they do. I thought Brown handled it all pretty tastefully – she could have gone into George R R Martin territory and gotten a bit more graphic/crazy, but she held back. On one hand, I’m glad she stayed her hand, otherwise this book might haven’t been able to stay in YA territory. On the other, I did kind of want to see her go deeper into the Tallulah/Calder connection just because it’s so rare in YA to see happening as apart of the main storyline.

Final verdict? Mermaid-lovers that want more bite to their stories – you simply MUST give “Lies Beneath” a read. It’s pretty awesome, and while it didn’t quite make my best of 2012 list, it’s still definitely worth the read. It’s out now from Random House in North America, so be sure to check it out!


2 thoughts on “Review: “Lies Beneath” by Anne Greenwood Brown

  1. Pingback: usagi’s challenges for 2012! | birth of a new witch.

  2. Pingback: Stacking the Shelves: Week 07 | birth of a new witch.

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