I first discovered Amanda Hocking‘s work through her Trylle series. I was living with my dad after Mom’s death, and I needed to read things that were entirely separate from my own life – trolls did that. (Note, Hocking’s trolls don’t have brightly-colored hair, and they prefer to be called Trylle.) I devoured those books because they dealt with intrigue and romance, teenage identity crises and monarchy – nothing about grief or mother loss.
Since I’ve read those, I learned they were self-published and wildly successful, so that’s another reason I enjoy them.
So when I saw a book with her name on it at the Green Valley Book Fair, I picked it up right away. In my excitement, I broke one of my cardinal reading rules – only read a series in order. Sigh.
The book is called Elegy, and it does one of my FAVORITE things in literature: Here, Hocking uses a myth – the Greek and Roman stories of the sirens who led men at sea to death through their songs – and wraps a 21st century YA story around it. There’s the requisite romance and a fair amount of mystery, and I love the complexity of the characters, but I am struggling because this is book FOUR in the series. I wish I had begun at book one.
Love Triangles, Curses, and Goddesses
I absolutely adore a story that takes a tale we’ve long known – myth, fairy tale, historical narrative – and plays with it in a new context. I love Rick Riordan and Angela Carter for that reason. So Hocking does not disappoint at all in this. The story of the sirens is true to the legend but revamped (if you’ll forgive the semi-supernatural word choice) for a 21st century America.
The book is set in a small town called Capri, Maryland, a town that is named, the sirens think, after the island of Capri. There are four sirens, as there have always been, but not all of them are the originals. Now, there are two new creatures in the mix – Liv, who is blood-thirsty and dangerous, and Gemma, who wants more than anything to break the curse of the sirens and return to humanity.
The story also involves Harper, Gemma’s sister, and Harper’s boyfriend, Daniel, who Penn, another siren wants. (Even as I describe it, you can see why it might be useful to have read the whole series, right?)
Harper, Gemma, and their friends are trying to break the curse, and so they are on a quest of sorts with the requisite scholars and historical mysteries to boot.
It’s fun . . . but I’m more than halfway in, and I feel like I’ve just finally understood this story line. So much of the first half of the book was about what happened in the previous ones.
The Writer’s Eye View
What I am learning from this book is the importance of having each book in a series stand on it’s own just in case someone comes in mid-series. I’m thinking a lot about that given that I’m about to release the newest book in my Steele Secrets series, Charlotte and the Twelve, and while I want readers who read the first book, Steele Secrets, to get the reward of references and a bit of “secret” information, I don’t want anyone to feel lost or left out if they come into the series with Charlotte.
Additionally, I want readers who love Charlotte and haven’t read Steele Secrets to WANT to go back and read the first book. That won’t happen if they feel like everything that happened in that book has been solved in the news one.
Now, Hocking’s using a different trope here. Like Tolkien, she’s building a four-book story that needs the previous books, so I don’t fault her at all. I just wish I’d picked up the first one first. Now, I won’t go back and read those.
But I will read her other series, so that’s a win for her.
If you enjoy mythic YA, if you enjoy supernatural stories, if you are writing a series of books that you want to be fully intertwined for your readers, I highly recommend the Watersong Series.
Pre-order the series here for it’s release on November 25:
*This is an affiliate link, which means if you use it and then make a purchase, I get a small commission at no extra cost to you. The goats say, “thanks” for the hay.
I am so excited to share this book with you because, especially in the challenging days post-election, I believe that this book has something to say about history and the way it affects us now, about how racism lives in a community, and about how the simple act of listening can begin the process of healing.
I hope you will consider pre-ordering a copy. The ebook is just $0.99 for a limited time, and the paperback is just $9.99 at my website (it will be $11.49 on Amazon). I’m happy to inscribe a copy for you.
You can preorder here:
I hope you’ll take a look, order a copy, and share these links with others who might be interested. THANK YOU!