Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother’s death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family’s homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock’s daughter, Lily. Easy enough—especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistable good looks and charm on ususpecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily—just as Lily starts to suspect that there’s more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.
Perhaps reluctant to taint my rose tinted images of Mermaids, cultivated by childhood films such as “Splash” starring Tom Hanks and Disney’s The Little Mermaid (I’m showing my age!), I have avoided reading any YA mermaid centric stories. However, while browsing through a Good Reads list of 2012 debuts, I was immediately drawn to this gorgeous cover.
The girl completely at peace in the beautiful clear, still water with the light streaming through creates the feel of a totally separate world, just millimeters from our own. The ambiguity of the photograph teases us – does she have a beautiful red tail or is it her just her skirt clinging to her legs?! I wanted to learn more about the underwater world and its inhabitants and like a victim of malevolent mermaids I was pulled under.
In many ways this is your standard paranormal romance; girl and boy meet, boy has a big secret which girl is determined to uncover, but the things that make this story stand out are the elements that drew me to the book in the first place.
The underwater environment feels so familiar to us, from our own tentative explorations and natural history programs and yet it also so separate from us, so alien. It has been said that we know more about our solar systems than our own oceans. I really enjoyed exploring Calder’s underwater world. I was actually quiet surprised at the amount of time Calder and his sisters spent on dry land and would have loved to explore more of their lake home.
Confident arrogance mixed with complicated back history, Calder is fairly typical of male leads in paranormal romance. What makes Lies Beneath stand out from the crowd is that Calder isn’t the brooding, stalking love interest, he is our main protagonist, and it is his voice that guides us through the book. Added to that Calder is fully aware of his nature and not a recent convert to it, makes his a really interesting perspective to observe from. Yes he’s a bit of a creepy stalker, but we understand why he’s doing it and we are complicit in it. From this vantage point we get to experience his struggles along side him and witness his growth as a character as his interactions with Lily and her family humanize him.
I LOVED Lily and her family. It was refreshing to meet a family who, despite their own life challenges, are obviously that supportive of each other.
From the way she dresses, the poetry she reads and her suspicious nature, Lily is very much her own woman. While you can not doubt Calder’s growing feelings for Lily, she is initially very wary of him and she certainly doesn’t fall down at his feet, a victim of instalove. For the first time in his existence Calder has to woo a woman with his mind and not just rely on his natural, predatory magnetism.
I’m particularly interested to see how the relationship between Calder and Lily develops in book two, Deep Betrayal, especially in light of the revelations in book one.
Verdict: If you enjoy paranormal romance, but crave a refreshing approach to it, you could do a lot worse than to dip your toe in to the cold waters of Lake Superior.
Reviewed by Caroline
Published in the UK by Delacorte Press Books For Young Readers.