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.
LIES BENEATH is the debut novel by author Anne Greenwood Brown, a novel that I only just discovered last week thanks to NetGalley and the amazing folks at Delacorte Press. I finished reading the book only an hour or so ago, and I am still reeling from the outcome of this amazing (yes, I said it, absolutely AMAZING) story. The book was both emotionally engaging and suspenseful from start to finish. I will do my best to be as vague as possible in my review, for fear that I spoil a book that still has roughly 5 months to go until its official release date. Rest assured, no spoilers are provided below. But I will say this much: after devouring the advanced e-book of Lies Beneath, I seriously can’t wait to get my hands on the finished hardcover copy!
I will not say too much about the plot except that Lies Beneath is a fearful story of revenge, discovery and redemption. To say more would spoil it, but the outcomes are not always what one would expect. The story is at once dark and depressing, yet uplifting and hopeful all at the same time. And as far as mermaid stories go (or any story for that matter) I grade this a perfect 10. It tops the lot of them.
I am excited to say that the main character of this mermaid tale is male. Yes, MALE! And what a wonderful change that is for the genre. Better yet is the fact that our main (mer)man, Calder – while being a rather distasteful person, er, fish guy, er, monster at first – goes through some of the best character development that I have witnessed in a novel in recent years. Oh, what a fantastic writer Anne is to make me first intensely hate and then care for a character so much, all within a couple hundred pages! Also, I appreciate the fact that Lily, the female lead, is also an excellent character. Not only does she have a mind of her own, she also has a decent personality to boot! Even if we only see her through the main character’s eyes. Finally, I relished in the fact that all of the supporting characters had engrossing and well developed back stories and their own individual motives. There is so much to look forward to read about each and every one of them in future installments.
The setting was both surprising and yet entirely appropriate for the story. Lake Superior. Who knew that mermaids lived below its depths? Certainly not this reader. The location plays a big part of the story, though, and I appreciated the map that was included for reference. The map also provided a greater connection to the events as they unfolded.
The book grabs you from the start and forces you to dive right into the main storyline, revealing tidbits about past events as you read. Each new development and/or revelation hits you with the force of a wave hitting the shore, one right after the other. Excuse the puns I just used (“dive in”, “waves”, ha ha…) but I’m serious. You won’t want to put the book down, that’s how quickly things unfold!
Anne’s writing style is both unforgiving in its honesty and painfully blunt about the nature of the characters (each and every one of them, even the supporting characters) and the situations involved. She is a master of making you sympathize with the character’s motives and desires. The writing is beautiful and descriptive, without being too self-aware or over done. Parents should note that there is a bit of swearing. While I am usually against the use of swearing in what I read, especially in books for teens, I found this book used the words more tastefully (if that can be said about swearing) and sparingly enough for me to not even notice as I read. Granted, we’re talking about less than a handful of word in nearly 300 pages of material, so it’s really of little concern. With that said, I did take a point off here because of the use of swearing. Call me a prude – I know the author was just “keeping it real”, but I have my standards.
Now all I can think about this new and fascinating series is: Can I have book two, please!? I know there is more ahead for these characters, and I need it… NOW! (Haha!)
Thank you, Mrs. Brown for writing the best mermaid (er, man) book that I have ever read.