Thursday, July 8, 2010
Author: Tricia Rayburn
Pages: 352 pages, hardcover
Genre: paranormal, YA
Standalone/Series: Series (Book 1)
Release: July 13th, 2010
Received ARC at BEA (Signed by author)
Author info: author website
Spoiler Alert: In the clear.
GoodReads Blurb: Seventeen-year-old Vanessa Sands is afraid of everything—the dark, heights, the ocean—but her fearless older sister, Justine, has always been there to coach her through every challenge. That is, until Justine goes cliff-diving one night near the family’s vacation house in Maine, and her lifeless body washes up on shore the next day. Though her parents hope that they’ll be able to find closure back in Boston, Vanessa can’t help feeling that her sister’s death wasn’t an accident. After discovering that Justine was keeping a lot of secrets, Vanessa returns to Winter Harbor, hoping that Justine’s boyfriend might know more. But Caleb has been missing since Justine’s death. Soon, it’s not just Vanessa who’s afraid. All of Winter Harbor is abuzz with anxiety when another body washes ashore, and panic sets in when the small town becomes host to a string of fatal, water-related accidents in which all the victims are found, horrifically, grinning from ear to ear. Vanessa turns to Caleb’s brother, Simon, for help, and begins to find herself drawn to him. As the pair try to understand the sudden rash of creepy drownings, Vanessa uncovers a secret that threatens her new romance—and will change her life forever. A seductive paranormal romance full of unexpected twists, Siren is certain to make a big summer splash.
Summer vacations as a teenager are all about milestones, first kiss, first job, first time sneaking out of the house but in Siren Vanessa goes through a lot more milestones than anyone would want – exposing her family’s secrets, taking on a family of deadly women, and of course some kissing of boys. Vanessa starts out this book at quite the crossroads – to let go of her fears and jump off the top of a cliff to kick-off her summer vacation with her sister, Justine, in Maine or to continue to let her fears hold her back. Of course Vanessa takes the path any sensible person would and does not jump off the cliff while the bold and fearless Justine jumps off in the middle of a freak thunderstorm. Unfortunately things continue to go downhill for Vanessa and after a big fight with her sister in which Justine walks off into the night to waking up to the news that her sister is dead. Vanessa is devastated, and returns with her family from the coast of Maine back to Boston for the funeral. Justine was always Vanessa’s best friend and Vanessa assumed she new everything about her older sister but as she begins to do a little unintentional snooping in her sister’s room she learns that maybe she didn’t know her sister that well at all. Vanessa’s investigations into her sister's secret life lead her back to Winter Harbor, Maine and her childhood friends the Carmichael boys who are also trying to deal with Justine’s death. Vanessa’s mission to learn more about her sister leads her to make some interesting discoveries about one of the families in Winter Harbor and about herself.
This book was a perfect summer read for me – I love the location of Winter Harbor and the tensions between the town and the vacationers as well as the eerie feeling the book gives you that all is not right in Winter Harbor. There are so many subtle clues about what is going on from the ghostly visits of Justine, to the freaky weather patterns that just hang over Winter Harbor, to the bodies that start washing up on the town’s shore with smiles on their faces (ok maybe that one is not so subtle). Ms. Rayburn crafts an excellent suspense filled mystery that honestly I think might be too scary for me to watch in movie format (I am a huge scary TV wimp) but is built expertly between the pages. Although I had my suspicions on who was the bad guy early on I was never sure what exactly was going to happen or how the story would end (and let me tell you the ending was perfect for me).
I loved the main character Vanessa, I connected with her from the beginning of the book and felt for her as she had to go through her sister’s death and deal with the fact that she didn’t know her sister as well as she thought. Her interactions with her remaining family definitely evolved throughout the book and Vanessa makes some startling discoveries about her origins and what her parents have been hiding from her.
Since I mentioned this was a beach read I would be remiss if I didn’t touch upon the romance in this book. The romance definitely takes a back seat to the mystery and suspense in this book but there are some cute and tender moments that any teenage girl would be happy to experience on their summer vacation.
4.5 out of 5 stars for me, Starting with a cliff-dive and ending with a cliff-hanger of a question – Ms. Rayburn crafts an excellent book.