Thursday, October 11, 2012

Marvelous Michigan Month: Lies Beneath

I heard about the book Lies Beneath this summer and was really excited.  It's a book about mermaids in Lake Superior!  I could not find anything that said where in Lake Superior this YA mermaid tail took place, but I thought it would be a great inclusion in the collection and, as the idea for Marvelous Michigan Month formed, in this feature.

I'm disappointed that the story takes place around the Apostle Islands, which are part of Wisconsin.  *deflates*  Well, nuts.

But I'm still going to feature Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown in this month's merriment, because dang it, there are mermaids in Lake Superior, and YA novels set in Michigan are hard to find.

Michigan connection: The Apostle Islands are part of Wisconsin, but are close to Michigan.  And there's a shipwreck on the Wisconsin/Michigan border that's featured in the story.  Lake Superior mostly falls in the jurisdiction of Michigan.  Yeah, I'm stretching things.
"A" is for Apostle Islands. They are part of Wisconsin. Boo.
Screenshot of Google Maps.

Checkouts: New to the charter school library
Typical reader: A tough call, since it's not fully in the paranormal romance genre and the protagonist is male, but I'll wager that teen girls will read it most.
Source: Snowbound Books

Synopsis: There are murderous mermaids in Lake Superior!  Calder and his sisters have vowed revenge on the son of the man who killed their mother.  To lure him into the water, Calder has taken on the task of getting close to one of his daughters.  He doesn't expect the teenager, Lily, to be resistant to his charms - or that he could fall in love with her.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

I loved the lore-building in this book!  The facts of Ms. Brown's take on mermaids are smoothly woven into Calder's narrative.  And it all makes sense.  Old lore from Greek and Native American sources are used, explained, or referenced.  Mermaids ran ships aground and killed sailors; Calder will tell you why.  Characters speculate as to whether the manitous of local Native American lore.  It made me happy, how much thought and research the author put into her paranormal beings.

Calder is a bit of a mixed bag for me.  It's nicely different to have this story to be from the point of view of a male, and of the "bad boy" at that.  His name is perplexingly unique.  It also would fit someone tied to a volcano better.  (Calder makes me think caldera, a large volcanic crater.)  He's a bit cocky and arrogant.  But more importantly, I abhor the trend of stalker types in paranormal romance.  I'm a good little librarian and don't say anything when tweens and teens check out the Twilight series, but ye gods, I want to give them a lecture about how they should never let someone treat them like Edward treated Bella.  Stalking is wrong.  Hurting your partner is wrong.  Manipulating your partner is wrong.  Breaking into your partner's bedroom and watching them sleep is just plain creepy.  Let's get something straight right now, okay?  Edward was abusive and a lot of what he did was illegal.  Why do we let this be considered romantic?

*puts soapbox away*

Anyway.  Calder is a bit of a stalker, but at least he only trespasses and hangs out in the Hancocks' hammock, or gets a job where he knows Lily applied.  Does he think about hurting her?  Yes.  But he's not exactly a good guy in this story; he and his sisters want to kill Lily's father.  Does he reform for Lily, or does he go through with the plans?  Read and find out.

Lily, on the other hand, more or less made me happy.  She's pleasantly nonconformist, reading Victorian poetry and dressing in a style all her own.  She is intelligent and witty.  Perhaps best of all, she's not taken by Calder's somewhat magical charms, and is skeptical of his motivations.  Nor is she keen on the advances of the local, normal dude, Jack.  Honestly, the way she looked at Calder's sisters in the coffee shop at one point in the book, I had the passing fancy that maybe she'd totally turn a teen paranormal romance novel on its ear and turn out to be a lesbian.  No such luck, but her reluctance to fall for Calder's advances and her suspicions about what was going on were endearing.

This is far more than a paranormal romance, though.  (Which, if you know my tastes, is a good thing.  I don't like pure romances.)  It is really quite the thriller.  There are some great twists to the plot.  And the murderous mermaids that are Calder's sisters turn out to be a bit different than what he'd thought he'd known.  Maybe I could have guessed at what ends up happening, but I really enjoyed the ride and the surprises.

There will be a sequel to this; it's due out next spring.  Interestingly, it's from Lily's perspective.


  1. This was the first really "dark" mermaid book I've read. After this, I read Fathomless, which is pretty dark too. I'd recommend it if you liked Lies Beneath (although it doesn't take place in Michigan.)

  2. I really like this review!

  3. Sounds interesting, mermaids are cool! Personally, I like paranormal romance YA but I'm choosy because there a lot of books in this genre that I feel don't live up to their potential. Can't remember the last time I read a mermaid book that I liked since Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli. Thanks for reviewing this.