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‘Storm Siren:’ Advance Book Review

I pick up a Young Adult novel, I want to find some very specific things.  A spunky, take-no-prisoners heroine.  A troublesome love interest.  Someone (or something) evil to fight against. Throw in some element of the supernatural, apocalyptic, dystopian, fantastic, the other-worldly, and I’m a happy reader.  

In Storm Siren, author Mary Weber brings us a fantasy realm filled with faeries, magic, and monsters, and layers in a gritty social environment filled with slavery, poverty, and political intrigue.  Weber echoes themes from The Hunger Games and The X-Men in a unique, imaginative world for the reader to explore.

Our heroine is 17-year-old Nym.  Born with the ability to catastrophically affect the forces of nature, Nym is convinced that she is a walking death sentence to those around her.   Sold into slavery, she lives in constant fear and guilt over losing control of her deadly abilities.  She finds expression for her guilt in self-inflicted scarrings that mirror the ownership tattoos that mark her status as a slave.   

Nym is a nice blend of external brashness and internal self-doubt.  Weber is clearly fond of her main character, and the care she takes in crafting her story arc is very evident.  Learning self-acceptance and reconnecting with her heritage are given the importance they deserve, and even partial resolution is not easily earned. 

Enter the tall, dark, and handsome love interest, Eogan.  An immediate source of conflict for Nym, Eogan is charged with teaching Nym how to control her abilities and how to kill with them.  Of course, Nym is immediately attracted to her teacher, and the resulting relationship is predictably problematic.  If I have a complaint about their relationship, it would be that the doubts Nym has about Eogan are a bit too easily resolved by the physical attraction she feels for him.

Nym is surrounded by enigmatic characters, some of whom clearly have evil intentions and some whose motivations are more difficult to pin down.  Keeping track of all of these villains starts to become a bit taxing over the course of the story; however, when the true face of evil finally shows up, it doesn’t disappoint.  Weber doesn’t hold back in terms of conflict or consequences.  Actions have lasting, painful penalties, and nearly every character is affected.

Storm Siren suffers from some uneven story construction. The many layers of history and political intrigue become a bit confusing over the length of the book.  Weber spends too much time explaining Nym’s world through exposition that doesn’t feel tied to the action of the story.  I also felt that both the romantic interest and villain were less developed than I would wish for, but imagine we will not be seeing the last of either of them with this installment.

Storm Siren’s central strength is Nym.  She is intelligent, witty, and easy for the reader to fall in love with.  Always sympathetic, never insipid, whiny, or petulant, I think Nym will strike a chord with any young (and older) readers who identify with the struggle to accept themselves for who they are.  I’m looking forward to following along with more of her journey.


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