Siren\’s Storm by Lisa Papademetriou is a haunting and original novel. The author evokes the feel of a Long Island town with its summer visitors and truncated relationships, effectively capturing the suffocating and unstable atmosphere of a town with people who come and go with the seasons. Gretchen and her father Johnny are some of those people. Her friend Will and his family live in Walfang all year round.
Nearly a year ago, Will\’s brother Tim died. At least, Will thinks he must be dead after a sunset sailing trip ends with Tim missing and Will unconscious and unable to remember what happened. Gretchen keeps sleepwalking and ending up closer and closer to the ocean, Kirk seems to be going insane, and Will finds himself drawn to beautiful Asia who appears in town seemingly out of nowhere.
The author\’s style is poetic, with a lyrical use of language, so it is not coincidental that music is a significant motif in the novel, including a nameless tune Gretchen keeps humming, to Kirk playing the organ without learning, to Asia\’s antique bone recorder, a duplicate of one found onboard after Tim disappears. The novel\’s own soundtrack, then, adds to the suspense of the text and combined with the menacing presence of the ocean generates a tense and threatening feel.
The narrative includes real excerpts from works such as the Odyssey and fictional extracts from the Walfang Gazette. While these do provide additional information and some are significant, I didn\’t find them all necessary and thought that they impeded the pace of the narrative. Often, this approach can build momentum, and keeps the reader interested. However, in this case I sometimes felt that the early stages of the book presented too many questions and too few answers. The narrative is told in the third person, from alternating perspectives. Initially, I felt frustrated by this and found the book hard to get into, with the story moving along too slowly. I wanted to skip ahead to get to the action and to find out where everything fit together. The book\’s revelations seemed to be a long time coming.
However, don\’t let this put you off: it\’s worth giving the book a chance, because when the big reveal comes, it is worth the wait. The extract from the book\’s sequel, Fury\’s Fire, also suggests more revelations which will explain some of the matters raised in Siren\’s Storm.
Available now: Random House RRP$18.95