Sunday, 21 February 2016

Storm Siren

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?

I read Storm Siren way back in 2014 and was so traumatised that I cast it aside until the full series was out to spare myself the heartache of another punch in the feelings ending. Even back then I loved it, reading well into the early hours of the morning to devour it in one go despite having work the next day. In 2016, I love it even more. 

Mary Weber's writing is fantastic, weaving a world of warring kingdoms, magic and political machinations, with a hint of steampunk thrown in. There are thankfully no infodumps here, all the details are sewn through the story. I love authors who give their readers enough credit to put the pieces together themselves rather than grinding the pace to a halt for pages and pages of characters explaining everything like their name was Basil Exposition. I could picture every elaborate party, every stunning landscape and every burst of magic. Truly, this is a world to get lost in.

I adore Nym! This kind of book lives and dies on it's protagonist and Storm Siren doesn't disappoint. Nym is an emotional wreck after a lifetime of suffering the effects of a curse she can't control, guarded and prickly, but still with enough of a conscience to feel the weight of every life she takes, intentional or unintentional. The self-harming angle is sensitively done here, where Nym tattoos herself with tributes to her victims, and while this could easily come off as mawkish or exploitative, it's nicely handled. The "woe is me, I'm so lonely, cursed etc" got a little wearying, especially with the first person pov where there's no getting out of the protagonist's head, but it made a refreshing change for a heroine to ask why, to ask questions rather than just being led on a merry dance by characters she barely knows as happens in so many YA books. She is what lifts this book from a middle of the road YA fantasy to something special.

And speaking of refreshing changes, hold on to your hats. Nym is white, and love interest Eogan is black. I know, shocking right? Well no, not really. Because this is 2016. Unfortuantely, diversity is in short supply in YA, so I was pleasantly surprised to read an interracial romance, and even happier that the book mentions it in passing a few times without making a huge deal of it. Victory dance!

I've read a few moans about the love triangle on Goodreads, but honestly I didn't read it that way. Earth-shaper and fellow recruit to the war effort Colin was more of a friend to Nym than anything else, and while he tried his luck, it seemed more his flirtacious nature than insta-love. Maybe because I find Colin such a deeply unsexy name, I didn't see him as the third wheel. Eogan all the way! Admittedly his power was very convenient, and in such a large kingdom - one of many - it seemed a little hard to buy that he and Nym had met before, but that's just me being picky. I loved the scenes between him and Nym as he helped her take control of her power and her gradual thawing towards him.

The moral complexities usually swept under the rug are all present and correct, and given the weight they deserve. Nym isn't just blasting faceless, nameless bad guys like it's nothing, every action and inaction she takes is justified and addressed. Is she a villain for the lives she's taken? Is Adora a villain by forcing youngsters into taking up arms for their kingdom? Is Lord Myles a villain for being prepared to sell out Faelen's king in order to end a hundred year war? Nothing is black and white. Except Draewulf. He is a villain, the big bad of this trilogy, and he's one of the best (or worst depending on your pov) in ages! Despite not putting in an appearance until the final chapters, his shadow hangs heavy over the story, his threat and malevolence there even when he isn't.

That ending though!

I genuinely couldn't believe what I was reading! I read the last few pages about three or four times because I thought there's no way that just happened. There's cliffhangers, and then there's this! I was so traumatised I wouldn't read book two in the trilogy until I had my hands on book three. I've now got the full series so am going to be braving the rest over the coming weeks.

If I had to sum up this book in one word, it's epic. I absolutely loved it from start to finish. If you want YA fantasy with magic, swoonworthy love interests, awesome bad guys, lands far far away, epic wars and all wrapped up with one of the best heroines in my opinion ever to grace the pages of fantasy, for the love of books - read Storm Siren! 


  1. Thank you for sharing this awesome review. Everything about the book sounds epic! The writing, the interracial romance, the ending to which your reaction is brilliant :D I WANT THIS BOOK IN MY LIFE *runs to store*
    Enchanted by YA

    1. You need this book in your life! Honestly, I can't recommend it highly enough. I was worried that it wouldn't be as good as I rememebered it when I re-read, especially as I've read a lot more utterly briiliant YA since then, but it was so, so good. Let me know what you think if/when you read it!

      Ha ha, yeah, I do look at my reviews before I post them and think "could I get an extra GIF in there somewhere?".

  2. I have seen this book a lot on bookstagram and I must say they are BEAUTIFUL books! I am intrigued by the story as well now, thanks to your post so I think I have to go pick up Storm Siren!

    1. Hurray! I wasn't too keen on the covers, they're a bit typical YA heroine facing away from the reader. I'm not sure what made me pick it up, but I'm so glad I did. I hope you do get to read it, let me know what you think! I love having people to rave about awesome books with.