Steampunk, classic fantasy, superhero fantasy, a fantasy mash up; a slow start, a terrific plot, a surprising twist, a devastating ending—thoughts and opinions abound when it comes to Storm Siren by Mary Weber. And so they should. This book isn’t your run-of-the-mill fantasy or your ho-hum-been-there-done-that young adult novel.
Nym is unique—a female Elemental. Her power is over the weather, except it seems more like it’s over her since she can’t control the storms she calls up or the lightning strikes she detonates.
As a slave she also has no control over who owns her or what they’ll want her to do. Until Adora buys her. Now she has a choice—learn to use her powers to help the country of Faelen in their war against Bron, a nation with superior forces and weapons, or die for her crimes.
Choosing what seems to be the lesser of two evils, Nym enters into training with another Elemental. Soon she’s caught up in court intrigue and discovers those who surround her aren’t what they appear to be.
As her abilities progress, the need for her to use them to save Faelen grows urgent. But the question surfaces—is Faelen worth saving?
Now she has a choice to make again, and it’s complicated because of the feelings she’s developing—and struggling against—for her trainer, Eogan.
I think the greatest strength of Storm Siren is Nym’s voice. She is brash and quirky, a bit unafraid, maybe a little fatalistic, but much of the attitude is a cover up for the fear she feels. Not fear for herself, but of herself. She knows she can wreak havoc and she doesn’t want to kill any more undeserving people.
Imagine her turmoil, then, when she’s bought to do just that to a whole army.
Another strength of this novel is the plot twists, the intrigue, the unexpected. It’s hard to know who to side with, what to hope Nym will do because her path is anything but clear.
Another strength is the way Ms. Weber weaves in the backstory through the use of a minstrel’s song, later repeated and expanded during one of Adora’s parties. I suspect much of the Christian worldview comes through in that song.
“The Monster and the Sea of Elisedd’s Sadness” tells the story of Faelen’s foolish king who made a deal with the devil—well, with a monster. In order secure a peace treaty, he agreed to kill the Elementals. Here’s the key section:
” ‘Twas the night compassion forsoooooook us.” He’s singing, referring to the night an agreement was struck between Faelen’s past king and the great, flesh-eating Draewulf. The price of which had been Faelen’s children. “And the big sea, she roared and spit up her foam at the shape-shifter’s trickery and our fooooooolish king.”
I swallow and feel my amusement over how much he’s enjoying himself catch in my throat at what I know comes next.
“The ocean, she’s begging for our salvation. Begging for blood that will set our children free.”
And for a moment I swear I can feel the sea waves calling, begging my blood to set us all free.
Salvation? Blood? Those are certainly Christian images, but Nym is no Christ figure. So how much of the Christian worldview is in this story? Hard to say. Of course, when I say “story” I mean then series in its entirety. At this point, I see hints and suggestions: a great evil that destroys and lies and possesses, one that has been invited in, not declared the enemy he actually is. A people robbed of their children who ought to be their hope and salvation. And blood needed to set them all free.
That’s pretty much the way the world looks to a Christian, but these elements of the Christian worldview operate in the background of the story—at least this first installment of the story. That’s also a strength, I think.
The opening scene is captivating. Nym is intriguing, sassy—a female protagonist who appears to be strong minded though clearly something troubles her. From that point, however, the story slows down for reasons I addressed in my Day 2 post.
I’d like to see Nym take a more proactive approach to her life and situation. I would have been more emotionally invested in her plight, I think, if I’d seen her make plans and try to better her situation rather than accept whatever was thrown her way.
I cared about Nym, but from a distance. I thought the action and intrigue drove the story. I liked the romance and wanted Nym to learn to trust. I wanted her to learn control, too, and I wanted her to be a hero.
All in all, I think readers who like fantasy, who like superhero type stories, who appreciate a well crafted novel, will be fans of Mary Weber and the series Storm Siren kicks off. They’ll be especially happy to learn that book two, Siren’s Fury, releases in June. Now’s the time to get on board with the first in the series.