On the cusp of her 13th birthday, reluctant siren-in-training Lorelei Salt, who soon will be joining her sisters in luring ships to their dooms with their glorious singing, finds herself responsible for destroying the Sea Witch’s curse and saving her sisters’ lives in this debut novel set in present-day Maine.
Lolly’s mother, a member of the Penobscot nation, recently died in an accident, and her Jewish father is unmoored in his grief, playing his folk songs late at night and living in the apartment above the family’s diner while the girls manage on their own. When not in school or running the diner, Lolly’s three beautiful older sisters are under the control of the Sea Witch, a centuries-old outsider from Barbados who calls the girls to wreck ships. Lolly contends not only with a mean girl and a budding romance, but also with the bright green scales swirling up her legs and her hair turning platinum. When her best friend’s bullying, racist stepfather captures her sisters in nets, Lolly discovers why they have traded their souls and attempts to reverse the curse—at great expense to herself. Purposeful messages for inclusion and against stereotyping are scattered throughout.
Touching on family relationships, grieving, growing up, first romance, and Norse mythology, this is an exciting fantasy with a heart-stopping ending by an author to watch. (Fantasy. 10-14)