Review: Lies Beneath by Anne Greenwood Brown



   Title: Lies Beneath

   Author: Anne Greenwood Brown

   Publisher:  Delacorte Books for Young Readers

May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

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 irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting 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.


I was hooked like a fish on a lure from the first page of Lies Beneath.  I loved the dark nature of the merfolk, and found Anne Greenwood Brown’s vision of mermaids a little frightening.  In this YA paranormal romance, the mermaids aren’t the nice, good-natured creatures I usually read about.  These guys are deadly, and kill without provocation.  They show no remorse for draining the life essence out of humans, either.  In this book, humans are the prey, and woe be anyone foolish enough to cross paths with one of Calder’s hungry sisters.  By nature, they are depressed and lost to grim dispositions, so they have a fierce need to feed on the positive emotions of humans.  Without the happy life essence of humans, they  spiral into madness and despair.

Calder does have a conscience, and he tries to deny his murderous urges.  His sisters don’t have much patience for him, and it’s obvious from the first page that he is different.  He is not like the other merfolk, and he wants nothing more than to have some distance between himself and his sisters.  He can’t resist the call for him to return home, though, and every spring, like a spawning salmon, he must return to Lake Superior.  He is bound to his sisters and can’t break free of them, much to his dismay.  As I read, I got a sense of the pressure Calder must feel.  Like a school of fish, he and his sisters must be together.  They can communicate telepathically when they are in the water, and what one knows, they all know.  How creepy would that be, having your every thought available for review by your siblings.  Ugh.

Calder and his sisters long for one thing – revenge against Hancock, the son of the man they feel is responsible for their mother’s death.  They have plotted and searched for Hancock for years, and when they finally find him, their anticipation for his painful death at their hands is all that keeps them going.  There’s a problem, though.  Calder, charged with getting close to Hancock’s daughters, finds himself falling for Lily.  He fights his attraction, knowing that he will have to keep his word and kill Lily’s father. Though the romance is clichéd, I loved how hopeless their romance seemed.   There can be no happy ending for a girl and the boy who helped to lure her father to his watery doom, right?  I was totally engaged in the story, wondering how, or if, they could be together.  The poetry references got a little tiring, and I thought that Lily’s character was too simple in a few of the major scenes, but I did like how she never let Calder get the best of her.  If anything, she made of point of getting under his skin more effectively than he got under hers.  Lily was far from helpless, and she met her fears head on.  I liked that.

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away, so I’ll close by saying that I enjoyed this darker take on mermaid mythology.  The tension between Calder and his sisters added to the edginess of the story.  Calder made a lot of promises, some of them conflicting, and I was on the edge of my seat to see how events would play out.  Once a merfolk gives their word, they are bound by it.  They can’t break it or go back on their promise.  This added another level of complexity to a happy ending, and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.  I gobbled this one up, and can hardly wait to see what’s next for Lily and Calder.

Grade:  B/B+

Available in Print and Digital

Review copy provided by {teen} Book Scene

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