On her 14th birthday, Luce enters a dark world of mermaids in this foreboding yet ultimately uneventful debut.
After a life of thievery on the road, her single dad tried to give her normalcy by settling down and taking a fishing job in an Alaskan coastal village. Since his boat disappeared a year ago, Luce has been living with her violent, alcoholic uncle. When he tries to rape her, Luce liquefies, reforms as a mermaid and is taken in by a group of cliquish mermaids, who were all mistreated girls as humans. Reminiscent of Kevin Brooks, Porter blends lyrical narration with the ever-present threat of sinister violence. Like The Odyssey’s Sirens, these mermaids, led by their queen, Catarina, use their voices to lure ships to destruction and their passengers to death. Equally fascinated and repulsed by the process, Luce, a naturally gifted singer bound by the mermaids’ code of honor, tries to think of a way to turn their voices from tools of evil into beauty. Adding to her dilemma are Catarina’s insecurities and secret compromises to the mermaid code and the arrival of the once-spoiled and wealthy Anais, who tries to usurp Catarina’s power. The real problem is that Luce takes too long to find her own voice and the tension wears thin.
A sudden ending to this slow-paced story will leave readers floundering. (Fantasy. 12 & up)