02 July 2011

Post 399: Lost Voices

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter. ISBN: 9780547482507 (eGalley - publishes July 4, 2011).

Oh look, I'm posting off schedule. I promised I would on occasion. Mostly I decided to go ahead and post this now because... I forgot to mention it when I made my general update. I knew I forgot to mention one of my eGalleys, and since I have time in my schedule, you get an extra post this round.

I liked that Porter took a darker turn with the mermaids in this. They were a bit of a throwback to the original mermaid mythos of cruel and heartless women who lured sailors to their deaths. However, Porter also adds to that mythos by giving us a possible reason for why they would do such a thing and how the creatures originated to begin with, rather than assuming that they are simply creatures of the deep, as alien and yet still familiar to us as the ocean itself must have been.

Instead, Porter's mermaids are less alien than alienated. They are formerly human girls who have been abused, none of them are physically older than the age of eighteen; the youngest are referred to as "larvae," and often become orca chow. The fact that the mermaids treated the larvae in such a way made them immediately familiar, as we humans have a similar pecking order and a desire to not be around whatever group is undesirable to our specific group.

This twist in the mythos definitely made it easier to tell a story, but by also presenting the mean-spiritedness as a choice for mermaids I sort of wonder if Porter went with the less interesting storyline. Perhaps instead of subsisting on food, as these mermaids do, it would have been interesting if they sustained themselves by taking the souls of living men (by sending them to their deaths with their song). In this way Luce's choice would not have been between singing, not singing, or trying to control her voice, but of deciding whether her attempt to hold on to her humaneness was more important than holding on to her life.

My review can be found on Goodreads.
LibsNote: Review copy provided via NetGalley.

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