Book Review : The Siren and the Deep Blue Sea

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

This review contains spoilers. Read at your own risk.
Book Review : The Siren and the Deep Blue SeaThe Siren and the Deep Blue Sea (Embraced by Magic, #2) by Kerrelyn Sparks
Published by Kensington Publishing Corporation on August 25th 2020
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Romance
Pages: 416
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Source: NetGalley

Four sisters have become queens, rulers of all that Aerthlan's two moons embrace. The last sister will forge her own path . . .

Signs and Seals
Raised on the magic-seeped Isle of Moon, Maeve is used to unusual powers--and the way they fuel the politics of her world. But when she discovers an ability to shape-shift at will, she knows who she wants to share it with first. Brody, the enigmatic, infuriating shifter-spy has always made time for Maeve. But it's been almost two months since she's seen him. And though no one else believes Brody is in danger, Maeve is more than ready to rescue him herself.
The rumors Brody's investigating are terrifying: a secret army of magic-users, in the service of the cruel Circle of Five. But when he uncovers the identity of one of the Five, the mission becomes personal. Cursed as a boy by the Sea Witch, Brody can spend only two hours a day in his human form, a restriction that limits his future and muzzles his heart. Plus Maeve teases him for being such a pretty doggy instead of appreciating his manly charms. To win his freedom, he must take on a terrible disguise. And when Maeve finds out, she'll unleash a tempest like no other . . .

I was a bit hesitant to read The Siren and Deep Blue Sea after not enjoying the last book in the Embraced/Embraced by Magic series, How to Love Your Elf. After all, any novel that makes you question if  the other books in the series were actually ever any good or if you had some kind of a lapse in judgement does not exactly make you want to rush out and by subsequent entries in said series. Call me sentimental, but I did really want to know how the Embraced/Embraced by Magic series ended and I hoped it would redeem itself after the last less than stellar entry. I found that though The Siren and the Deep Blue Sea wasn’t the best entry in the series, it certainly wasn’t the worst either.


“If she had any feelings for him, he had to put a stop to them. He didn’t know if he would ever get rid of this damned curse, and he would never ask her to share his accursed life. Maeve was too special, too sweet to be stuck with am man who could be a husband for only two hours a day.”


Throughout the rest of the series, the romance and connection between cursed shapeshifter Brody–who is only able to exist in his true form for two hours a day due to the sinister spell of a Sea Witch–and Maeve–the youngest of the five Embraced sisters–was strongly foreshadowed. As a result, I had pretty high expectations for this romance, since it was well-established over the course of the four previous novels in the series. As a siren, Maeve is pretty dang enchanting supposedly, (we are simply told she that has a beautiful voice, but men never seem to drown when they’re on a boat with her or anything remotely interesting or problematic), and the fact that she can also shift into a seal, which also means she’s a selkie, only adds to her appeal to Brody. He’s spent years secretly shifting into an otter or seal to play with Maeve when she’s in her seal form, only to avoid her when he’s in human form, for her own sake. Brody desperately doesn’t want Maeve to return his secret romantic feelings as he can only be a human for two hours a day. We all know that’s a lot cause, but I found the whole forbidden love and the idea of only being together in seal form pretty original and enticing.


“This was one of the reasons she’d always felt so close to Brody. His past was mysterious too, and he was also an embraced Shifter. Because of a witch’s curse, he could maintain human form for only two hours a day, and unfortunately, he spent most of that time in secret conferences with Leo or whichever king he was currently helping. So it was only a rare occasions that Maeve saw him as a human.”


Unfortunately, Brody and Maeve’s romance, which was so built up over the course of the different novels, was a letdown for me. Everything went far too smoothly and perfectly despite their amount of issues. I felt disappointed by their lack of rapport, despite knowing each other for so long. Perhaps their stilted and unnatural conversations were due to the characters spending so much time interacting as seals that they simply didn’t know how to communicate with one another in human form. But as this is not alluded to as a reason, I have to chock it up to unfortunate writing. I was even more irritated that this lack of ability to have a decent conversation, where neither is naked or hiding something. However, I was more frustrated that Brody’s inability to be in human form for over two hours, does not at all inhibit them from consummating the relationship before curing Brody’s curse, rendering his reservations from an entire series as a mere plot device in one fell swoop. I really wish their romance had been more of a slow burn throughout the course of this novel and not just the rest of the series.


The other side romance of the story wasn’t any better. In fact, it was worse. Brody’s sister, whom we never even knew about before this novel, and his friend, Nevis hit it off right away. I really couldn’t care less about their instant love at first sight as I didn’t even remember Nevis from previous novels and had no attachment to Eleanor at all, since she wasn’t in them. Plus it was more just the fulfillment of the trope of a princess falling in love with someone below her station than actual development between the two. And this relationship got quite annoying because anyone in the presence of Nevis and Eleanor for half a second made an unfunny “I can’t believe they’re flirting right now” joke that repeats about 15 times throughout the entirety of The Siren and the Deep Blue Sea. It honestly felt like more and I found myself skimming whenever they came onto the page.


“And now she felt even more left out. Her sisters and their husbands had become an exclusive group she could never join.”


And if you think that one princess per novel is enough, you’d definitely disagree with the author, who I can only imagine thinks every girl dreams of being a princess or Queen. I had to laugh at the beginning of The Siren and the Deep Blue Sea when Maeve said there was no way she would end up becoming a queen like her four sisters. Of course she does. And not only is Maeve actually a princess, but Brody is also a long believed dead prince! As if Maeve having four sisters as Queens wasn’t enough, her mother was a queen of an ancient race. Talk about royalty overkill. The ending is similarly nauseatingly happy, with Maeve being the daughter of the Sea Witch who cursed Brody in the first place and inheriting all of her evil mother’s powers upon her death. This grants Maeve the ability to easily cure some other kid’s curse, Brody’s curse, and her brother-in-law’s inability to touch his children without electrocuting them with his lighting powers. Every little lose end is tied up in a pretty little package with a bow on top–everyone lives happily ever after, with Brody and Maeve being the future King and Queen of the very last monarchy with a vacancy.


I would’ve been far happier if Brody and Maeve had simply lived together as seals, swimming the oceans, and dropping by to visit her sisters when she felt like it. They also could have just spent Brody’s two hours as humans when they felt like it. Surely it would have been far more romantic if Maeve had accepted Brody as he was, in any form than the two simply rehashing the other novels of the series and becoming yet another royal couple. I wish Maeve, who always felt like the odd one out of her sisters, had found her own, different sort of happiness. I think it would’ve been more fitting and romantic. Plus, even in stories like The Little Mermaid, the mermaid has to give up her home in the sea and her family to be with her human prince. But in the Embraced/Embraced by Magic series no character has to make any sacrifices to achieve what they want and that makes the novel utterly unrealistic and forgettable. 


Instead of realistic struggles and sacrifices, every single characters gets their happy ending in the Embraced/Embraced by Magic series, and it was more than just a little ridiculous how overly happy it was. The entire world is now at peace due to the romances of the five female sisters. Maeve, who was already a siren and a selkie, gains the Seer powers of her deceased father, and all of her the Sea Witches’s magical powers and abilities–making Maeve a Seer, witch, selkie, siren, and queen. Laying it on pretty thick, if you ask me. And The Siren and the Deep Blue Sea doesn’t offer much in the way of resistance to the saccharine ending. The sinister Embraced army that was such a huge threat and required literally four other countries to defeat them, ends up being made up of literally less than ten kids with magical powers, who spend a lot of time crying and not wanting to hurt other people. They too, of course, are all forgiven and find happy ever afters among the sisters. Likewise, the Chameleon, the big bad shapeshifter–who can be transform into anything or anyone and was the antagonist from the entire series goes down pretty damn easily. It is all very anticlimactic and sickeningly fortunate and I just couldn’t suspend my disbelief enough to enjoy it.


“The civilization had been quite advanced, with paved roads and elegant stone villas with pools overlooking the sea. Members of the ancient race had been capable of different kinds of sorcery–shifting into animals and sea creatures, telepathy, telekinetic abilities, the gift of foresight, and even mind control. Not surprisingly, the most powerful sorcerers belonged to the nobility, and so the continent experienced a turbulent and violent history as the different noble families constantly battled one another for the throne.”


The parts of The Siren and the Deep Blue Sea that interested me the most, sadly weren’t explored much. Maeve and Brody don’t spend a lot of time together as seals or mutually pining away with no physical relief. And when readers learn that Maeve is the last living descendant of an ancient race with unbelievable powers that destroyed itself and its own civilization, it’s downfall is completely glossed over–despite the fact that we are told that Maeve can enter the history books and relive the events firsthand. I was bummed that more time wasn’t spent on this interesting civilization and race, because it gave me very strong Atlantis vibes. Similarly, the romance between Maeve’s father, The Seer, and her mother, the Sea Witch, could’ve been a heartbreaking love affair if it was handled properly. Readers mostly learn about it from a journal, and I wished the author had taken the time to tell the story from the perspective of the Seer himself in flashbacks or in a prologue that would make it more tragic. Mostly, I wished the author had rendered Maeve’s mother more sympathetic and complex, instead of as a plain evil villain to be vanquished.


Ultimately, I guess my problem with The Siren of the Deep Blue Sea was really just that there were no real problems! I want my characters to suffer and to struggle more–I want them to be challenged and to not obtain everything they want with so little effort or moral quandaries. I do not want my characters to fight an army of ten innocent, tearful kids for world peace, I want them to fight a huge war and I want important characters to die in the process. I want characters like Brody to really struggle with their humanity and the idea of entering into a relationship when he is only a human for a mere two freaking hours a day and to not just brush it all aside the first time he’s alone with his love interest.


Sadly, I think I’m just too jaded to enjoy such flawlessly happy endings like this. The romance of Maeve and Brody, and the resulting literal world peace just feels cheap and unearned to me. But if unquestionably happy endings are your thing, The Siren and the Deep Blue Sea, and the rest of the Embraced/Embraced by Magic series is perfect for you. I am glad I know how the series ended, and it’s definitely a stronger entry in the series than the last novel, but I still feel unsatisfied by the ending and strongly wished Maeve would have forged her own path to happiness with Brody in a way that was different from her sisters. After all, it’s called The Siren and the Deep Blue Sea, so shouldn’t Maeve had ended up in the ocean and not as yet another queen on a throne? 

Book Review : The Siren and the Deep Blue Sea - Blogging with Dragons

Posted August 3, 2020 in Book Reviews, Romance

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