Title: Siren’s Calling
Author: Piper J. Drake
Series: The Sea King’s Daughters
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Print Length: 22,000 words
Amae Waters will never live up to her father’s expectations–she’s not a leader and she’s not a soldier. Rather than live with his disappointment, she’s left his realm and built a life for herself in Seattle, a mermaid blending in with humankind. Her mission? To prepare the oceans for the return of her people. But she’s not sure she’s cut out to accomplish that either.
A new predator has entered the waters of the Puget Sound, ravaging orcas and leaving their carcasses to wash ashore for humans to find. Whatever is killing them is beyond human understanding and Amae must find it before it irrevocably damages the complex balance of the ocean ecosystems.
But a greater danger lurks in the deep. Amae is done evading traps. She’ll defend her territory and prove she needn’t be a soldier to be a warrior or become the sacrifice used to end her people.
Look for other stories in this exciting Urban Fantasy series from Philippa Ballantine, Stacia D. Kelly, Lauren Harris, Katee Robert, and Asa Maria Bradley.
I tasted blood in the water.
Changing course with a flick of my tail, I swam against the fast-moving ocean current toward the source. There were no vibrations in the water to indicate the thrashing of a living thing in distress and the seas were quieter than usual. Not surprising, with this much blood carried on the currents. Predators would be drawn to it and prey would be wise to leave the area or hide.
Curious, I’d come to investigate, thinking one of the killer whale pods had taken a baleen whale. It wasn’t unheard of, though it didn’t happen often. A big kill like that would draw plenty of ocean denizens, and I hadn’t tasted whale in a long time. I wouldn’t kill one, not when I couldn’t finish consuming it myself and not when so many whale species were endangered, but I wouldn’t let it go to waste, either.
When I didn’t find anything in open water, I’d pulled myself up onto the rocky outcropping between islands and found it. The body. But it wasn’t a humpback or gray whale, not a mink or fin whale, either. It was an orca, a killer whale, and that didn’t make any kind of sense.
Before I could take a closer look, the sound of a powerful motor cut through the morning calls of seabirds. Harbor seals lifted their heads and looked around from where they lay on another rock outcropping. A lone Steller sea lion grunted and scratched his head with a huge hind flipper. He turned to stare at me and I met his gaze, unconcerned. He was a prime specimen of a bull, the largest I’d ever encountered, but he posed no threat to me.
The waves slapped against the rocks around my tail fin in a changed cadence. A boat was approaching, and with it, humans. They were probably whale watching, which meant every one of them would be on the lookout for wildlife. Most of them would have binoculars. I couldn’t let them see me in this form.
I dove back into the water, darting through forests of kelp and berating myself for lingering past dawn. There was too much light and I had to dive deep to be sure nothing on the surface caught sight of even a tail flick from me.
As far as humans were concerned, I didn’t exist. I was a myth, a fairy tale.
If they saw me, they might not even believe what they’d seen. In their dreams or after too many drinks, they might whisper, “Mermaid.”
And they’d be right.
Amae, who is supposed to be more like her sea king father than the rest of her sisters, doesn’t have the stomach for the soldiering that is expected of her and has always felt like a bit of a failure and a disappointment. You definitely can’t tell from her actions in this book, though–it’s clear from the beginning pages that Amae feels protective towards her slice of the sea (Puget Sound and the rest of the area around Seattle) and that keeping the animals who live there safe–from humans and from supernatural dangers that lurk there, even while still recognizing and embracing her role as predator–is her number one concern. Interacting with humans? Eh, not quite so crucial.
One aspect of this book that I really liked–and it was noticeable in the previous book too ( Siren’s Curse , the only other of the series that I’ve read so far)–is the fact that the authors both really nailed the feeling of “otherness” for their heroines. They’re not human, they’ve never been human, and they don’t want to be human–they’re fine with passing as them so they can accomplish their goals, but there isn’t a single hint of the longing that Disney dreamt up. (Don’t get me wrong–I love Ariel. But would she really still want to be part of our world after seeing what we’ve done to it–especially the oceans–after all this time?) These merfolk aren’t human and make no apologies for that fact, yet still manage to be relatable heroines, scary claw tips and all.
In some ways, this novella felt more resolved than the previous book. It doesn’t feel totally finished–Amae has arrived at a better place at the novella’s end than she was at the beginning, but there’s definitely a “for now” and not a “ever after” vibe going on–and it absolutely left me wanting to know where the characters were going to go next in their quest.
Like Siren’s Curse before it, Siren’s Calling felt standalone-ish. Amae thinks of her sisters, but other than mentioning them briefly (once?) and reflecting on the long distance help she gave to Lorelei in the last book (without any details at all) she’s as isolated as the others seem to be and just as determined to fix things without their help or input. I can’t help but feel that these loosely connected stories must be leading toward something bigger, though, and hope that at some point in the future all the siblings will come together to accomplish something–if not exactly what they were sent to do, then at least something more.
Rating: 4 stars / B+
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About the author:
Piper J. Drake is a bestselling author of romantic suspense and edgy contemporary romance, a frequent flyer, and day job road warrior. She is often distracted by dogs, cupcakes, and random shenanigans.