Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Siren, by Tricia Rayburn

First published by Penguin in 2010

I’m not one to normally jump on book fads or ‘next big things’, but I will jump on the mermaid bandwagon. Except perhaps it isn’t really jumping, because I have always read mermaid books ... there’s just a whole more lot of them at the moment, and many, I’m sure, to come. You can see more of my thoughts on mermaids by clicking on the ‘mermaid’ tag at the bottom of this post. But if you didn’t – and I know you probably didn’t: who cares, right? ;-) – then I guess I should say again: I love mermaids. They have always been my favourite fantasy/mythological creature, even perhaps one of favourite things. Who doesn’t love an outrageously irresistible beauty in a sea-shell bra?

Siren turned out to be better than I was expecting. Quiet, afraid Vanessa loses her sister Justine in a freak cliff-jumping accident while on holiday at their vacation home in Winter Harbour. Everyone assumes Justine’s death was accidental. But then other bodies, all men, start washing up around Winter Harbour. They are all grinning from ear to ear. Vanessa, with the help of would-be lover Simon and Justine’s grieving boyfriend Caleb, does some investigating. What is the conclusion she comes to? You guessed it – mermaids. And as the body count rises, Vanessa comes closer and closer to the truth about herself.

I liked the setting. It held the story together, it was an effective set-piece, it was slightly ominous and claustrophobic and Rayburn got the holiday vibe just about perfect.

There was a good ration of mermaid to human action. There was even some scenes below the waves, which is, I imagine, hard to do. Often I feel mermaid books don’t use the ocean enough, use the power of creatures lurking beneath, of a whole other world existing. It is all speculative in the mind of the heroine. But I felt I got my money’s worth in Siren. Even though I knew exactly where the story was going, there was a nice atmosphere of mystery about ‘what lies beneath’.

I quite liked the writing. The prose is nothing special but it does what it should and I kept my cringing to a minimum. Of course there are typical para-romance tropes but that’s to be expected. I didn’t quite believe the plot point about ‘freezing Winter Harbour’. And I didn’t like when Vanessa’s Mum told her she was always the beautiful one, she has always had it all but just couldn’t see it; guys have always loved her etc etc. That felt a little bit indulgent. Some reviews I’ve read had expressed discontent with the way Rayburn doesn’t always tell us everything and how Siren jumps from scene to scene, often with no explanation. I didn’t mind. It’s good for the reader to have to work a little sometimes.

No real strong feelings about Vanessa. She was a bit nothing to me. So was Simon. I did like that the real relationship focus was on Vanessa and her sister, and even to some extent with her parents, rather than just being all about Simon. That’s refreshing.

All in all, not too bad. Pretty harmless and a satisfying read for a lover of mermaids. I might even read the next in the series.


  1. i felt about the same about it. a nice enough read, but hardly one of my favourites.
    i'd have liked it more if she wasn't suddenly considered beautiful etc, and if the author didn't spell the ending out as if the readers were stupid in the end. i am planning to read the sequel at somepoint though.

  2. Yeah the ending did annoy me. All the bad sirens died but Vanessa, the grandma and the men magically escaped? Please.