“The island would eat you alive, if you let it.”
The sea holds many secrets.
Moira Alexander has always been fascinated by the deadly sirens who lurk along the shores of her island town. Even though their haunting songs can lure anyone to a swift and watery grave, she gets as close to them as she can, playing her violin on the edge of the enchanted sea. When a young boy is found dead on the beach, the islanders assume that he’s one of the sirens’ victims. Moira isn’t so sure.
Certain that someone has framed the boy’s death as a siren attack, Moira convinces her childhood friend, the lighthouse keeper Jude Osric, to help her find the real killer, rekindling their friendship in the process. With townspeople itching to hunt the sirens down, and their own secrets threatening to unravel their fragile new alliance, Moira and Jude must race against time to stop the killer before it’s too late—for humans and sirens alike.
DISCLAIMER: I received an eARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
EXPECTED NOVEMBER 5, 2019
CW: loss of a loved one, child death, gore, violence, smoking
If you’re looking for a story with a soft love interest, a guarded main character, a good dash of murder, and some music to score it all, then Songs from the Deep is probably going to fit your bill! And if you’re looking for a quick read, then double bonus! It’s fast and atmospheric at the same time.
Following Moira Alexander as she investigates an unusual death on the island, Songs from the Deep manages to at once trace out multiple characters with emotionally-tangled secrets, a world where the fringes of magic are simply a feature of existence, and an island that drips with a foggy, secluded atmosphere. In some ways, the setting reminds me of The Scorpio Races, just with dangerous sirens instead of flesh-eating horses that the locals race up and down the beach. And with more murder.
In fact, there’s multiple murders, as most murder mysteries tend to have, and they’re made more eerie by the questions that the bodies raise. On an island where sirens don’t often leave remains, evidence of an attack is rare and cause for alarm.
Of course, this is where we run into one of the things that kept me from fully enjoying Songs from the Deep: it doesn’t have enough sirens. Granted, that’s not really something you can quite quantify, BUT, I found that there were far fewer sirens and far more humans than the summary implied, which was a bit of a bummer. I love mermaid and sirens stories (though you shouldn’t get me started on how they’re two totally different creatures), and the overwhelmingly human focus at once made sense but disappointed nonetheless. Essentially, Criticism #1 is NEEDS MORE SIRENS. (Criticism #1 is also pretty darn subjective, and I promise that I recognize this.)
On the other hand, I really did love the characters. Moira Alexander is headstrong and opinionated, and while she doesn’t always make the best of decisions, she has the steel in her spine to stand by them (plus a hint of flexibility to recognize when she’s in the wrong). Jude Osric, on the other hand, is the perfect counter to Moira’s steadfast nature. He’s flexible and open, one of the town’s most beloved figures, and his heart seems to rest on his sleeve in an endearing way.
Acting as such opposites, I loved the way Moira and Jude played off of one another, tried to be better for one another. Their romantic entanglement was inevitable from page one (childhood friends to lovers, anyone?), but it progressed so sweetly and carefully (with one major bump I appreciated, plus a good sprinkling of hurt/comfort) that I couldn’t help but enjoy it. This coming from the world’s pickiest blogger when it comes to romance arcs, y’know?
And while the characters lent strength to the story, I think the plot struggled a little to keep up. It’s not bad (except for Criticism #1, see above) so much as it is…typical. Nothing about the course of the mystery is terribly surprising, not even the truth of it all. It’s formulaic in the way murder mysteries can often find themselves in danger of becoming, and while that can be a comforting constant, it certainly doesn’t add anything fresh.
This familiarity of plot is part of what makes Songs from the Deep such a quick read, too. Not only is it shorter than average to begin with, but there’s no pressing need to sit and scratch your brain trying to put it together, no bombshell plot twists to throw the whole thing askew. So, if you want a complex mystery that’s going to leave you guessing, this isn’t it. But if you want a mystery with a sweet romance and a familiar feeling just to pass the time and make you feel good, this could be just the thing!
Ultimately, if you don’t mind a book that’s not mindblowingly original, and if you’re not as frustrated as I am with the lack of sirens, you might find that it’s worth giving Songs from the Deep a try! It releases on November 5th (yes, that’s tomorrow), and if nothing else, it can transport you to a foggy, salt-worn island for a while, where sirens prowl the waters and humans lead their odd little lives on the cliffs above.