From the 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 Winter Harbor, Maine, and her lifeless body washes up on shore the next day.
Vanessa's parents want to work through the tragedy by returning to their everyday lives back in Boston, but Vanessa can't help feeling that her sister's death was more than an accident. After discovering that Justine never applied to colleges, and that she was secretly in a relationship with longtime family friend Caleb Carmichael, Vanessa returns to Winter Harbor to seek some answers.
But when Vanessa learns that Caleb has been missing since Justine's death, she and Caleb's older brother, Simon, join forces to try to find him, and in the process, their childhood friendship blossoms into something more.
Soon it's not just Vanessa who is afraid. All of Winter Harbor is abuzz with anxiety when another body washes ashore, and panic sets in when the small town becomes home to a string of fatal, water-related accidents . . . in which all the victims are found grinning from ear to ear.
As Vanessa and Simon probe further into the connections between Justine's death and the sudden rash of creepy drownings, Vanessa uncovers a secret that threatens her new romance, and that will change her life forever.
It might be an understatement to label Tricia Rayburn’s ‘Siren’ a ‘breath of fresh air’... it’s more like a tornado. When the YA paranormal scene is bombarded with vampires, angels and werewolves, Rayburn’s novel takes a different mythological route - sirens.
Vanessa is rocked by the death of her sister, Justine. But Vanessa refuses to stand at her sister’s grave and weep – she instead takes matters into her own hands and investigates the death. Vanessa delves into the mysterious deaths surrounding the Maine tourist town of Winter Harbor, and in the process she uncovers some unsettling information.
Rayburn draws on sea folklore – hinting at mermaids and other creatures of the deep that have been known to lure sailors to their watery graves. The main focus is on sirens though – and this is a pretty untapped mythology for the YA paranormal set; suffice to say I was completely fascinated.
Vanessa was a fantastic heroine; a wonderful conundrum of ballsy and cautious, brave and terrified. I love YA heroines who are relatable for their fear but commendable for their courage in the face of that fear. Vanessa is just that kind of protagonist, and a wonderful role model for young readers. She is especially wonderful for her driving force – the love and loss of her sister. Seeking to understand Justine’s tragic death is what compels Vanessa to start her investigations. As sad as this trigger is, I thought it was a wonderful motivation of love for Vanessa to be dragged into the underwater world of sirens in order to avenge Justine. And it meant that as a reader, I was there with her all the way – she had my sympathy and attention right from the get-go for her courageously sad mission.
During her investigations Vanessa’s long-time friend, Simon, starts searching for his missing brother, Caleb. Vanessa can’t help but be somewhat disturbingly envious of Simon (for he has a sibling who is *missing*, not dead) but she puts her emotions aside and agrees to team up with Simon and help in his hunt. There is, of course, a love connection between these two (it’s one of the YA paranormal ingredients, after all).
I loved Simon. Or to be more precise, Vanessa and Simon. These two have a blossoming romance and it was so sweet to read for all its tender-hearted infatuation;
“So you’re, like, crazy in love,” he continued before I could clarify Simon’s and my relationship. “You open your eyes in the morning and your first thought is her. You wonder how she is. What she’s doing. When you can see her again. Those thoughts stay with you all day. You share them with whoever will listen – including your best friends, who of course respect you but, after a while, out of the kind of concern only real friends have, seriously question your sanity. And you make all sorts of plans – big plans, like, post-high school – when the rest of us can barely wrap our heads around the fact that we only have two years left to get a clue.”The Simon/Vanessa romance is also a nice counter-balance to Vanessa’s sad investigations into Justine’s death. The romance is a much-needed reprieve from the heavier moments of the book, as well as being a necessity in any YA paranormal read these days.
“I sound obsessed,” Simon said, reaching over to tug gently on my ponytail.
I will say that the pace of ‘Siren’ is quite slow. I didn’t mind, since I loved being caught up and educated on the mythology and folklore, but I could see the sluggish pace being frustrating for some.
As fascinating as the siren mythology was, and sweet as Simon and Vanessa were, it was Ms. Rayburn's writing that I really loved. She beautifully blends fantasy and realism, mythology and mystery and tops it all off with a wonderfully gutsy heroine in Vanessa. Tricia Rayburn is definitely an author to watch, and 'Siren' is a must-read.