August 15, 2012

VBT Review: Promises, by Amber Garr

Welcome to the Syrenka series book tour! Here at Stories of my life, you'll have the chance to read reviews of all three books through its duration, and if you want to check out other great stuff like excerpts or guest posts (and other reviews too!) you just have to check the master schedule, clicking on the Tour Banner Above.

There's two surprises: one is a tour-wide giveaway where you can win signed paperbacks of the whole series plus some cool swag... And the other is exclusive to Stories of my Life and consist on a giveaway for your e-book of choice of the series. You'll find instructions on how to enter at the end of the post.

And now that the deets are out of the way, I give you... Syrenka!

Author: Amber Garr
Title: Promises
Series: Syrenka #1
ISBN: 9781468006797
Publisher: Amber Garr (first published December 7th 2011)
Disclaimer: Copy received for review

Buy your copy: Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes and Noble

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sometimes following your heart can end up destroying the ones you love.

When seventeen-year-old Eviana Dumahl is faced with the responsibility of an arranged marriage and clan leadership, she is forced to choose between the life required of a mermaid and one of a teenage girl simply infatuated with the wrong guy. Kain, her devoted fiancé would make a wonderful husband except that she’s been in love with Brendan, a shape-shifting selkie, ever since they were kids. Choosing to abandon her family, her clan, and her life with Kain will have dire consequences far beyond anything she could have imagined.

A war is brewing amongst the clans and Eviana unwittingly becomes a pawn in the intricate schemes of a twisted mastermind. With Brendan’s life on the line, she has no choice but to involve those who she once considered friends. Amidst encountering senseless tragedies and immense loss, Eviana discovers that she is more valuable as a clan leader than anyone ever suspected. Her survival is not only dependent upon the loyalty of her friends, but also on her acceptance of a life that she had so adamantly tried to escape.

Promises is the first book of The Syrenka Series trilogy following Eviana and her friends through the perils of growing up in a discrete world that inherently threatens human society” GoodReads’ blurb

The first thing I want to say is thank you. I’m so glad I got the chance to be a part of this... It’s shown me an entirely new yet believable and perfect world! Those of you who know me are familiar with two things: my love for selkie fiction and my obsession with faery tales being as close as possible to the myth that gave birth to it. Well, Syrenka stars a selkie romance... Selkie and mermaid! The possibilities were endless, but so were the chances that this would turn out a cliché.

Cliché... where?

I’ve fallen in love, and fallen hard, with the world Ms. Garr gives us. It’s magical and unique. Of course, since myth is just myth, it’s easy to just write whatever, but this time I’m happy to say that her creatures blend the twisted folk and the lighter qualities that make them suitable to lead a YA novel, and they do so in style.

Let’s try to start at the beginning: when everything that’s expected of you is to marry and lead your whole clan, things can get harsh. More so if you love another man. More so if this man belongs to a different species, one that can’t reproduce on its own and depends on seducing human women to carry their childs.

Unfortunately, if you’re not human, the relationship is shaky on both its accounts. That’s the premise for Syrenka, simplified.

See, that bit about reproducing inability? That’s the author’s take. It helps to explain why selkies are legendary for seducing women, though, and it works.  The part about being organized in clans is half myth, half interpretation, but that’s how I see the merfolk working. And, you know that legend about sailors being drowned by beautiful mermaid voices? Well, that’s explained here as well. I can’t say how because that’d ruin an important surprise, but it’s been taken care of.

Beyond their species, the characters themselves were the kind of people I can understand. So Eviana makes some choices, and there are consequences. That’s okay. Not that I like them, specially the consequences, but I can see a girl her age taking the path she did. Brendan was the perfect swoon-worthy guy: ready to step in, respecting her choices, following through even though it was dangerous for him... Perhaps because I liked him so much, and because I liked their relationship —built since they were practically kids— the endind left me feeling so... insecure. Worried, even.

Things are about to change.  This first novel does an excellent job of introducing the characters, the world, the situation... and of putting events in motion. From what seemed a perfectly normal rebellious moment, a huge mountain slide of consequences will come and I can’t wait to see what they are, how they are going to ride them out—if at all.

Because, as concerned as I am about Eviana and Brendan, the rest of the cast also has room in my mind and heart. From Kain, quietly loyal and ready to sacrifice it all for love (can I have him? Please?) to the other merfolk and the recently introduced selkies... Even to the water sprite, they all are solid and interesting.

Recommended? Of course! Go and grab this book now.

About the Author

Amber Garr spends her days conducting scientific experiments and wondering if her next door neighbor is secretly a vampire. Born in Pennsylvania, she lives in Florida with her husband and their furry kids. Her childhood imaginary friend was a witch, Halloween is sacred, and she is certain that she has a supernatural sense of smell. She writes both adult and young adult urban fantasies and when not obsessing over the unknown, she can be found dancing, reading, or enjoying a good movie. 

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  1. Oh my gosh! Thank you so much for your wonderful review. You have no idea how much I needed this today! :) Thank you for being a part of my tour and I look forward to seeing what you think about the rest of the series! :)

    1. My pleasure! This is exactly the kind of book I always hope to read and never get when I buy siren/mermaid YA fiction... :) So thanks for letting me read it!

  2. Hi Ron,

    Thanks so much for the post and for your's really informative.>:D

  3. Hi Ron! I think the comment box has been playing up, Ive written a comment and its incomplete so just ignore it..

    Anyway, this is the first time ive seen this book and im already itching to get a copy. it soudns sooo good!!! Omg im gonna add this to my lsit. thanks for the great review Ron. :) xxx


    1. I think I'm becoming pretty good at digging up obscure but invaluable treassures, hehehe! :) I hope you'll enjoy it, Lalaine. Glad to read you, even if the comment box plays up a little!