By Dana Langer
“The only light comes from a ring of tiny candles, flames shivering and casting shadows on the wall. My sisters are lying there and fast asleep. And they’re not the only ones. There are other girls asleep in that room, girls with strange hair and scales on their feet.Girls who look a lot like us.”
A soon-to-be siren finds herself responsible for the lives of her sisters—and the fisherman they curse—in this haunting debut novel that Kirkus calls “an exciting fantasy with a heart-stopping ending by an author to watch.”
Lolly Salt has three beautiful sisters. When they’re not in school or running their small town’s diner, they’re secretly luring ships to their doom from the cliffs of Starbridge Cove, Maine. With alluring voices that twelve-year-old Lolly has yet to grow into (not that she wants to anyway) the Salt sisters do the work mandated by the Sea Witch, a glamorously frightening figure determined to keep the girls under her control. With their mother dead after a terrible car crash, and their father drowning in grief, the sisters carry on with their lives and duties…until a local sea captain gets suspicious about the shipwrecks.
On the day before her birthday, Lolly watches in helpless horror as her sisters are lured themselves by curse-reversing fishermen—and suddenly it’s up to her and her best friend Jason to rescue the sirens of Starbridge Cove.
The middle-grade debut novel by Langer is an instantly riveting read for any young ones seeing the darker side of stories and mythologies. It reads like an Alice Hoffman book, with its incorporation of unique towns, and strange magic brewing there. With expertise and subtlety, Langer imbues her story with mythologies of sirens and mermaids from around the world. Even I found myself having to take a break at its darker moments. Sirens are certainly a unique subject in mass fiction. While mermaids may be more common, but this one specifically addresses a young character and her sisters, who traverse the world of normalcy and sirens. The only downfall is the lack of detail. I don’t think the fact that it’s a middle-grade novel is a valid excuse. I found myself wanting to find out more about a grand revelation, or how the character necessarily came to a conclusion or decision.