Book Review | Storm Siren

Storm Siren
Storm Siren, #1
Mary Weber

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson
Genre:  Fantasy Fiction, YA
Released:  August 2014

[Goodreads]
“I raise my chin as the buyers stare. 
Yes.  Look.
You don’t want me. 
Because, eventually, accidentally, I will destroy you.”

In a world at war, a slave girl’s lethal curse could become one kingdom’s weapon of salvation. If the curse—and the girl—can be controlled.

As a slave in the war-weary kingdom of Faelen, seventeen-year-old Nym isn’t merely devoid of rights, her Elemental kind are only born male and always killed at birth — meaning, she shouldn’t even exist.

Standing on the auction block beneath smoke-drenched mountains, Nym faces her fifteenth sell. But when her hood is removed and her storm-summoning killing curse revealed, Nym is snatched up by a court advisor and given a choice: be trained as the weapon Faelen needs to win the war, or be killed.

Choosing the former, Nym is unleashed into a world of politics, bizarre parties, and rumors of an evil more sinister than she’s being prepared to fight . . . not to mention the handsome trainer whose dark secrets lie behind a mysterious ability to calm every lightning strike she summons.

But what if she doesn’t want to be the weapon they’ve all been waiting for?

Set in a beautifully eclectic world of suspicion, super abilities, and monsters, Storm Siren is a story of power. And whoever controls that power will win.


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WARNING: Possible Spoilers
If you haven't noticed already, I dive deep into these reviews.  Simply meaning they are THOROUGH.  Please be aware if you wish to be fully surprised at plot twists, spoilers, etc. you may want to skip over this post.  You don't have to by any means!  But you have been duly warned. :]

[The Basics]
Oh.  My.  Mint Chocolate Chip.

The first words that came directly to my mind after reading the closing pages of this book were, "NOOOOOOO!!!!  It can't end like this!  GAH!  I CAN'T WAIT TILL NEXT SUMMER!!!"  Haha, not to scare you potential readers. . .  But. . . there's a GIANT cliff hanger. -_-  

I was super impressed by this novel.  Just from reading the synopsis on Goodreads, I was expecting a great novel, but after actually reading it, I discovered an AWESOME story.  Written in first person, which I'm sure I've mentioned before is not my preferred style, the tale draws you in from the first page, and keeps your full attention.  I almost couldn't put it down!  

Each character is complex to a point and real, with unique problems due to their pasts, but ones that can surely be resolved with their actions in the present.  You will find yourself laughing a little at the wit of the reluctant heroine Nym, full out guffawing at the antics of her friend Colin, weeping at the sorrow and devastation of war, and staring in shock at the deceit and plot twists so carefully woven into this tale.  Mrs. Weber has a beautiful and intriguing style to her writing and I simply love her voice in words.  Well done.

[Positives]
We all need someone in our lives to encourage us and make us smile.  Well, Colin in the perfect guy for that--a much needed friend to Nym, who has known only slavery and destruction all her life.  He gives her the perfect example of friendship and never once gives up on her no matter how many times she ignores, or punches, him.  (Note, there's not really a romantic thing between these two.  Just a beautiful display of brother/sister love.)

Despite her past and with the help of a persistent coach, Nym learns to overcome the depressing thoughts that she is a monster and opens her eyes that maybe she was born for a greater purpose, and not that of evil.

[Negatives]
Nym has always seen herself as a monster and believes she will always be so.

Few references to "panties."  Nym wears a low cut dress to one of the bizarre parties, several men seem to notice.  Other women wear form-fitting outfits and gowns accentuating slims figures.

Men, and one in particular, are often described as attractive and "stupidly gorgeous."  Well, after reading an article on whether or not it is "necessary to sexualize characters in YA fiction," I found this rather annoying.  Of course, we are in a young lady's mind (so to speak) and these are her thoughts we are reading and experiencing, but still. . . I found it to be a little distracting.  Along the same lines, it is thought that a maidservant was disposed of for "having a thing" for a man.

As part of the process of branding a person as a slave, the owner cuts a line in the skin of said slave's arm and applies the juice of a plant, which then gives it the form of a tattoo.  [SPOILER] Nym does this same process to herself as a "memorial" to the lives she's supposedly destroyed, at one point carving a bird into her own skin.

[Spiritual Content]
Characters say the phrase, "Go with the creator."

Nym and her trainer travel to an enchanted lake, called the Valley of Origin, where the very air seems to breathe magic.

It is common legend that an evil wizard with the body of a man and wolf can take over and possess another person's body.  [SPOILER] Turns out to be true.  (More on that in Violence.)

[Violence]
[SPOILERS]
Nym has flashbacks of her parents' deaths, as they are burned alive in their own home.  In relating a story of the past, two men are killed by giant hail stones, "torn limb from limb."  A man is struck by lightning, whose body "bursts into pure energy."  It is later learned that a little girl was also killed.

The tattoo process, as mentioned above, is quite bloody.  When Nym does this to herself, she gets sick and vomits in a fireplace.  We discover early on that she has had the fingers of one hand broken, leaving that hand slightly deformed.  The owner who did it threatens to break her other fingers (but doesn't).

A girl is beaten, we read of her bruised face and dried blood on the floor.  Several threats, that are not followed through, include cutting one's tongue out or getting a throat cut.

Warhorses are a giant breed of beasts that sport sharp teeth and snippy attitudes.  They are ride-able, however, which seems CRAZY to not just me, but Nym as well. (She forms a bond somehow, and the horse is her riding companion for the rest of the book.)  In the barn where they are kept, we read of a bloody puddle and tufts of hair from an unfortunate soul.  At one point, the characters release the horses to hunt.  When they return, one is chewing on the leg bone of a deer.

A girl is nearly strangled.  Nym discovers she can send fire through the veins of an adversary, causing great pain, and even (if she held on long enough) death.

Fearsome creatures known as bolcranes have screams that resemble that of a tortured child.

A girl's body is possessed by the wolf-man who sheds her skin (literally) to reveal his true form.  A young man is clawed by the same giant wolf-man.  An officer is bitten on the shoulder.  Others are clawed and wounded by the dark wizard.  In one fight, swords slice and stab, deadly icicles fly through the air, the earth is torn into fissures, earthquakes rumble, stormy winds fling airships across the sky, and bombs level small villages.  Plagues take out other towns.

[Language, Alcohol & Drugs]
Swear words that mean nothing to us, but have the same effect, include "litches," "hulls" (i.e. "what in hulls. . ."), "bolcrane," and "kraken."  Other exclamations include, "teeth of a naked ferret-cat" or "good mother of Faelen."  As you go through the book, you gather that "litches" seems to come from a forest of the name Litchfell.  And "hulls" seems to resemble a certain bad place. . .

Lots of drinking at a wealthy lady's estate parties.  Also, more drunkenness in places called common houses that are similar to taverns.

After getting hit in the leg and arm by falling shrapnel, Nym takes pain-killers in the form of tablets in several instances, to keep the pain at bay while she completes a mission, with the help of Colin.

[Love-y Content]
Certain women are very clingy and seductive, running a hand over a man's chest or kissing him to spite another.  Quite a bit of innuendos.  Men don't just look at a girl's face and/or eyes, but their bodies as well.  A reference is made to a wealthy woman's "harem of menfolk."  Party costumes are super bizarre, ranging from a frog lady with a small hat made to look like the amphibian's eyes to purple peacock plumage to an arctic wolf.

There is obviously a strong attraction between Nym and her trainer.  He has a special ability, though not much is elaborated about it, to block powers.  And in training Nym, he places two fingers to her neck, where her pulse is, and the result is calming.  They kiss a total of three or four times, one near kiss, embrace, etc.

[Conclusion]
Overall, a splendid story! full of magic, fantasy, romance, action and the power to overcome.  I found each page well written, with intriguing and fun dialogue, scenic world-building, and unpredictable plot twists to boot.  A definite read for all of you fantasy lovers.

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Recommended ages:  16+

I was provided this copy thanks to BookLookBloggers.com
in exchange for my honest review.

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2 comments

Christine Smith said...

Thanks for the review, Sarah! I seriously must read this book. It looks fantastic. But major cliffhanger... Meeeep!

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Yeah... But I think this one is right up your alley! ;D