Saturday, 18 July 2015

Review: Alluring Song

Sometimes, there's nothing better than a good fairy tale. Fantasy has a lot of different aspects, and while the offshoots of it that I usually read are of the epic war or urban variety, every now and again I like to read something that feels like something I would have read as a child, but is unquestionably meant for an older audience. Case in point,  Alluring Song, a debut novel by Aimee McNeil, who I featured in a guest post on Thursday. With its intense action scenes and steamy love scenes, this definitely isn't something you should read to your kids before bedtime. That being said, it's a beautiful story put together by a talented writer who clearly had a dream she couldn't wait to put on paper.

Love the hand-drawn illustration-feel and the colors!

In a world where gods wield power over mankind, testing their loyalties and their hearts, there are some men that will rise from the ashes. This story begins with the sea.

A beautiful goddess whose misplaced affection unleashed a wave of torment upon those who had wronged her, creating the means to wipe her beloved daughters from her sea. A mother whose love defied the laws of life and death, protecting her daughter from the demons of her past. A young woman who could not escape her fate or the will of her heart, leading her to embrace a man created to destroy her. Three warriors forged from a curse that has plagued them for generations, one seeking vengeance, one struggling with his nature as revelations shake his beliefs, and one that embraced his need for battle. A queen whose thirst for power leaves a trail of destruction in her wake by her use of deceit and dark magic. And a disheartened king with two sons, one born of love, the other pure evil, with a nature so dark it threatens to destroy all in his path.

The struggle for power has begun.

If you think there's a lot going on in the synopsis, it's because there's a lot going on in the story. Like a lot of classic fantasy novels, Alluring Song takes place from a variety of perspectives, telling us different stories for different people while converging to the same point. I found every story line to be interesting, though I found the King's, the queen's, and Teller's to be the most intriguing as far as the story went. That isn't to say the other story lines aren't interesting, but those two held my interest. Which is ironic, because they involved politics, and I hate politics. 

The heart of the story belongs to Lorelei, a young half Siren who lived a sheltered life and finds herself falling into an adventure and romance unlike anything she could have imagined. Especially since the man she falls in love with was born to destroy her kind. Yikes. Talk about complicated. But this is definitely a romantic story, and the hope that true love will conquer all is a very prominent undertone. Though I adore Lorelei and stubborn, tough, supernatural warrior Ajax, I was hoping for a bit more complexity to their relationship. By that, I mean I wish they'd had a little more trouble getting it off the ground. Oh, I like reading "love-at-first-sight" romances just as much as the next hopeless romantic, but maybe I'm just used to reading books where the couple had to overcome a lot of hurdles before they finally caved and found the love they craved. Though as I said earlier, the entire story felt like reading an adult fairy tale to me, and their heart-warming romance definitely suited the story.

The Royal Family story line– with the collapsing but kind-hearted King Brom, power hungry Peronell, and walking masochist Arthur– was surprisingly dark. Choices were made that cost lives, caused vicious rebellions, and sent characters into a truly pitch black spiral. I felt terrible for Brom, who was being used and manipulated in ways he couldn't even begin to understand, all while mourning the love of his life (and totally not his queen), and the son he believes is dead. Peronell was a spider, weaving her web behind the scenes and using devious powers to extend her control. Evil as she was, I enjoyed the minor flashback into her history that explained how she came to be the way she was. It was a great device, and almost made me feel sorry for her. Almost... Because she gave birth to Arthur. If you're wondering what Arthur is like, imagine Joffrey from Game of Thrones if he were a rapist. Then you'll have the idea. Reading about him was sickening, but I loved it. If a villain is acting and doing things that disgust you, odds are he/she's a good villain.

There was a lot of mythology behind the series, though this proved to be the biggest hurdle for me. Essentially, there were two religions going on: One appeared to be Catholic/Christian and was intent on erasing the "devil" by holding witch trials for literally any reason. The other was the more obvious Greek myth revolving around Amphitrite, best known in mythology as being the wife of Poseidon. She wasn't a huge player in mythology, which is probably why I enjoyed her role in the story as much as I did. Having said that, there wasn't a lot connecting the two beliefs. Personally, I would have wanted waaaay more Greek mythology, but that's because I turn into an overexcited fangirl every time someone says one word about the ancient stories. I love stories with Sirens and I love the idea of witches, but the Catholic/Christian element jolted me a little. Not enough to stop me from reading, but enough to keep me wondering.

Another thing that bugged me a little was the level of convenience. I wanted them to be in a little more peril, especially Ajax. He's a badass warrior, sure, but I wanted him to be caught in more situations where he didn't see a positive outcome, or for Lorelei to truly cause distractions for him, to the point where he faltered and really suffered. 

While it seems like those might be major complaints, they aren't. I enjoyed the story, and as far as debut novels go, Alluring Song is one of the best I've read. McNeil has a strong voice and a passion for words. Everything she wrote was put together in an almost poetic way, and I could almost feel the love she put into each sentence. The characters and story are engaging, the twists surprising, and the mythology/concept behind the Sirens and the men born to kill them was truly fascinating. I've said time and time again that wanting more from a story is rarely a bad thing. It means you've become invested, and you simply want more from the story. That's what I found most with Alluring Song. I wanted more from the characters, more from the story lines, more from the mythology, and more powers. 

Hopeless romantics, this is the book for you. Nobody's ever too old to read a fairy tale.


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