Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Review: Serenade by Emily Kiebel

I firmly believe that people can be aligned to elements in ways that feed their souls. Some people love to garden, clearly nourished by a relationship with the earth. Some people are hypnotized by a bonfire. And others fancy mercurial changes like the wind. While I love a good bonfire, I am most definitely a child of the water, at home in the water like nowhere else. I am drawn to water and find nothing so pleasing as being in it, on it, or beside it. My attraction to it would pale in comparison to some mythical creatures like mermaids, sirens, or gods and goddesses of the deep though. As Lorelei Clark, the main character in Emily Kiebel's YA novel, Serenade, discovers, when one is in fact a siren, the pull of the ocean is strong.

Lorelei is a freshman in college, having defied her mother and gone to a classical music school in Maine to major in voice performance. She has a beautiful voice and despite the estrangement with her mother that her decision caused, she feels like she is doing what she is meant to do. As the novel opens, her father is visiting her for her fall break when he is struck and killed crossing the street. Lorelei cradles his dying body, inexplicably drawn to sing for him. After his funeral, she sneaks away from her Colorado home and her mother's demands once again, returning to school. But her singing no longer has the instinctive feel to it that it once did and she reluctantly takes a leave of absence, traveling to the Cape to meet the maternal relatives she's only just heard of and to try and heal a little from the crippling grief after her father's death.

While she is getting to know her great aunt Helen and her two cousins, Calliope and Deidre, they strike her as a little bit eccentric. They run a dive salvage company and the china they eat off of is White Star Line china, ostensibly taken from the Titanic. But then she witnesses them transforming into something otherworldly in the cove outside their home one night and she is terrified. Once they calm her down, they tell her that they are real live sirens and that she is one too. This is not welcome news to her because she thinks of sirens as the mythical creatures who lure sailors to their deaths. But the Deleaux women explain to her how wrong her preconception is and they start training her to take her place in their family group. She is starting to reconcile herself to her destiny but she continues to have trouble with the idea that she will ease someone into death rather than trying to save them. And she must learn to govern her willfulness and her temper as well, no easy task.

Kiebel blends the idea of living, breathing sirens into our familiar world convincingly. And she makes them far from the horrible, murderous creatures they are in mythology so that the reader can feel sympathy for Lorelei's situation. The novel is slow to start, building an elaborate backstory for Lorelei before finally centering on her discovery and training as a siren. As this is clearly the first of a series, there are numerous dropped plot threads, such as the evil that lurks in the water, that will presumably reappear in later books and Kiebel even introduces entirely new and completely unexplained and undeveloped pieces, a Valkyrie and the Elysienne, to Lorelei's tale at the very end of the novel, which caused me some frustration.  In addition, Lorelei's deep grief at the loss of her beloved father is quickly ignored once she accepts her heritage. Despite these stumbles, Kiebel has penned an intriguing tale of family, one of right and wrong, and one that questions the idea of unbendable fate.

For more information about Emily Kiebel and the book, check out her website, her Facebook page, or connect with her on GoodReads. Take a look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Janay from Book Sparks PR and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.

1 comment:

  1. This is a terrific review, and I *love* your opening paragraph.

    The premise of this novel is quite interesting. I love mythology ... throw in a good story and some eccentric characters, and how can you go wrong? :-)


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