Mar 1, 2017World Weaver Press
Editor: Rhonda Parrish
Publisher: World Weaver Press
Publication Date: July 12, 2016
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars — Legit
Source: I received this ARC free of charge from World Weaver Press in exchange for an honest review
Sirens are beautiful, dangerous, and musical, whether they come from the sea or the sky. Greek sirens were described as part-bird, part-woman, and Roman sirens more like mermaids, but both had a voice that could captivate and destroy the strongest man. The pages of this book contain the stories of the Sirens of old, but also allow for modern re-imaginings, plucking the sirens out of their natural elements and placing them at a high school football game, or in wartime London, or even into outer space.
Featuring stories by Kelly Sandoval, Amanda Kespohl, L.S. Johnson, Pat Flewwelling, Gabriel F. Cuellar, Randall G. Arnold, Micheal Leonberger, V. F. LeSann, Tamsin Showbrook, Simon Kewin, Cat McDonald, Sandra Wickham, K.T. Ivanrest, Adam L. Bealby, Eliza Chan, and Tabitha Lord, these siren songs will both exemplify and defy your expectations.
Fear not, faithful readers (I’ve got to have at least one, right?) I’m back…ish. As I am sure many of you have experienced, Life likes to throw curve balls; and my life has had more curve balls over the last several months than any other spherical object. I really wanted to dedicate sufficient time to the review of Sirens, though, because it’s such a stellar book with so many individual stories that a general review didn’t seem enough.
Initially, I was concerned about how to adequately review an anthology. Rhonda Parrish’s Sirens made it really easy: This book is exceptional. Parrish collected a wide variety of stories about sirens, the mythical creatures that use their voices to sing men toward an inevitable demise. Our world is clearly changing, shifting over time as national and world-wide events shape the dynamics in jobs, relationships, worship, and recreation; not only for humans, but the sea folk as well. These short stories range from futuristic imaginings of alien-esque sirens leading spaceships to their doom, to old-school tales of fishermen and the sirens that, although sometimes accidentally, inevitably alter the courses of their lives. Each of the short stories is well-written, absolutely unique from anything I’ve read before, and touching in its own way.
One thing that readers of my reviews might have noticed about me, is that I really like to connect the books I’m reading with my real life. With Sirens, I took the book with me on a whitewater rafting trip through the Cataract Canyon on the Colorado River and let my imagination run wild as we avoided rocks while careening through Class 5 rapids. If possible, I’d recommend trying to read Sirens near some sort of body of water, if only to get on board with the connection that the sirens themselves have with the water. It adds an extra little bit of magic to an already magical collection of short stories.
Siren Seeking by Kelly Sandoval: The opening story of Sirens comes from the unexpected angle of a siren stumbling her way through the dating world via dating website for paranormals. Whaaat? Yeah. A dating website for paranormals. Is there anything that sounds cooler than that, and how do I sign up? I do wish this short-story had been a little longer, because there were many parts of the story that could have been stand-alone stories due to the sheer potential.
The Fisherman and the Golem by Amanda Kespohl: A lonely fisherman finds himself buying a beautiful golem from a magician in his village marketplace, and discovers that humanity hides in unlikely, and supposedly “empty,” shells. A beautiful story of love, compassion, loss, and healing. This was one of my absolute favorites of the book (and the whole Magical Menagerie series, actually).
We are Sirens by L.S. Johnson: These cool-girl sirens seem to be masters of their world; they control the perceptions of the humans with whom they interact, and manipulate the eddies of emotion through which they drift. At no point did I suspect any yet-to-be-read part of the story, and I ate up every shock, picked my jaw up, and went back for more. There was always more to be had, too.
Moth to an Old Flame by Pat Flewwelling: Immortal forces clash as a siren is forced to become an unlikely hero. Serena, the siren in this short-story, struggles to break free of a love-triangle (or square? maybe rhombus?) that involves Eros (AKA Cupid) and his arrows that incite love regardless of the victim’s will. #ThanksForThat Admittedly, this was not one of my favorite stories, due to the trite humor in the exchanges between characters.
The Bounty by Gabriel F. Cuellar: This super short story is amazeballs. The siren in the story takes a background to the real siren: the insidious will-o-the-wisp, who acts as a lure for the siren. This duo forms the perfect clean up team, and makes me reaaaally glad that I’m not a bad guy. If i had powers like this, this would be a great way to use them.
The Dolphin Riders by Randall G. Arnold: It’s a fairy tale re-write of The Lord of the Flies, and it’s difficult to know who I want to root for in this story. There’s an undercurrent of despair that lurks under the surface of this story, briefly rearing its head occasionally to remind the reader that despite children making up the main characters, the story isn’t meant to be one told to children. This story is deeper than I expected, and I feel like it needs a couple of good reads to really process the social commentary.
Is This Seat Taken by Michael Leonberger: My hackles rose as I read this story, attempting to digest the thought of this married man lusting after the beautiful woman on the train. I wanted to punch is face in, and I really hoped he got murdered, deboned, eaten, as he started to treat his poor wife like garbage and focused his entire attention on a woman he didn’t even know. I’m still irritated about it. That must mean that the author really did his job with this story.
Nautilus by V. F. LeSann: The romantic imagery of Nautilus drifting through space in search of Argonaut inspires awe and a feeling of being a small being in a huge seemingly-empty universe. I think we have all felt as Nautilus feels: alone, misunderstood, used, overlooked. Nautilus is made to feel as “naught” by the crew, and resents the lack of respect and sheer lack of comprehension that human decency doesn’t apply just to human beings. This was one of my very favorite stories in Sirens. Very well written, and the ending left me strangely at peace.
Siren’s Odyssey by Tamsin Showbrook: On the first read, the story is disturbing in an interesting way. On my second time through, I started inadvertently creating connections between the actions of the characters and my own tumultuous relationships. That takes “disturbing” to a whole new level. Who of us hasn’t had a relationship with euphoric moments that have sinister undertones? Or been with someone who uses you, but cares about the pain it causes? If you read Siren’s Odyssey with an open mind, who knows what connections you might make. If you go in looking for relationship connections after reading this review, then find yourself trying to compartmentalize some unresolved ex-directed anger… #sorrynotsorry
Safe Waters by Simon Kewin: I’m not gonna lie: If I could choose a sea creature in which my consciousness would be transplanted, it would be something powerful like an orca. What would you be? Safe Waters offers a tidbit of escapism as Lina takes a vacation from her stressful job and bad breakup in the guise of a mermaid. Simon Kewin challenges our commitment to the life we are “supposed to” have, and teases us with the idea that we can still make decisions that change everything. The story is brief, the characters are interesting, and the premise is liberating.
Notefisher by Cat McDonald: While vividly detailed, Notefisher was a little too abstract for me. It’s one of those times that my “judgey-ness” rears its head, and I leave a story thinking Well, at least it’s semi-resolved when it ends. This didn’t seem to fit into the book as well, due to the abstraction, and, frankly, I was irritated by the use of hallucinogenic drugs to explain the existence of the notefisher.
Experience by Sandra Wickham: Told from the point of view of a siren, Experience gives the reader a warm glowing-but disbelieving feeling at the end, as the plot quickly moves from introduction, to disaster and decision-making, to conclusion. The story doesn’t focus much on the characters, so it was hard for me to feel much for the characters themselves, but their opinions had a little weight. Overall, I liked the story, but I would have enjoyed a little more depth.
One More Song by Eliza Chan: Flat out, this story made me uncomfortable. I read this a handful of months after a very significant domestic battery incident, and found myself becoming tense on the very first page. As this story has the potential to trigger readers with a history of abuse, I thought it was worth mentioning in case other readers have similar sensitivities. Another aspect of the story that is charged with undertones of civil rights and obtaining justice, is the tension between the seafolk (and other paranormals!) and humans as they are forced to share living space due to changing world ecology. This was a unique and thought-provoking short story, and I’d be happy to read other works by Eliza Chan if they are even a little bit as interesting as this.
Homecoming by Tabitha Lord: Sirens wraps up with the more traditional tale of Odysseus and the sea-nymph Kalypso, with a slight twist as the point of view is from Odysseus’ wife Penelope, as well as from Kalypso. The story-telling is stark and unembellished, moving briskly through the scenes as though reporting facts instead of weaving another world or another time. I was confused about the occasional lack of quotation marks around the characters’ conversations, but determined upon a second read-though that the quotations were only missing from the Kalypso sections; possibly this is due to a difference in communication and thought process that a siren might have compared to a human? Overall, I found this to be a strange choice as the finale piece for the book, as there were other, more moving short stories, and the final couple sentences of Homecoming left me uneasy and unable to decipher what emotions I was even supposed to be feeling.
**Please Note: This review is my honest opinion and I did not receive monetary compensation from it, just a pretty awesome book**
Find KRISTINA WOJTASZEK online:
Buy OPAL online:
“A book is a dream that you hold in your hand.” ~ Neil Gaiman