Reviewed by Scott A. Johnson
Written by John Everson
Published by Leisure Books
John Everson has a strange fascination with the water and tragedy. His books Covenant and Sacrifice are a testament to the fact that whenever people get near a big open area of water, someone dies, and it's never pretty. This time around, death floats with an old sailor's myth, the Siren, and the result is a book that's one part gruesome, one part tragedy, and one part erotic thriller.
Siren's lead character, Evan, lost his son to the ocean in an accident for which he still blames himself. While his wife copes by drinking herself into a stupor every night, Evan (who is terrified of the water) tortures himself by taking long walks on the beach to the point where his son lost his life. During one such walk he comes upon a beautiful naked girl singing in the sand. Her song is entrancing, her body alluring, and without so much as a word, the two engage in hot sex in the sand. When other folks turn up dead, viciously torn apart and eaten, it becomes apparent that the perpetrator is the naked girl, who is actually a hundreds-of-years-old siren and has chosen Evan as her new lover in this tale of blood-soaked infidelity and regret.
Everson's never been one to shy away from the gory or graphic details, and this book is no different. He writes every death with the same passion as every sex scene, bringing the reader close to the action, whether they want to be or not. His descriptions are horrific and tantalizing, and oftentimes both, when the reader comes to understand just what the creature Evan's having hot monkey sex with is. But more important, Everson pays careful attention to the emotional states of his characters, building layers of regret and complicated suffering to create fully-formed characters to which readers can relate.
Easily the most tragic character is that of the Siren herself. It would've been easy for Everson to make her a one-dimensional character, drooling blood and sex appeal, but instead, he gave her real personality and a history of abuse at the hands of a brutal sea captain who kept her chained in his quarters for his own vile pleasures. In giving the reader glimpses into the Siren's past, it's easy to sympathize with, or even root for, her as she cuts a swath of blood over the sandy beaches.
Siren is easily one of Everson's best. This multi-layered story captures the reader with its ability to stir the emotions as well as repulse.
4 1/2 out of 5
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