Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Release Date: July 4th, 2011
Pages: 304
Format: Hardcover and Audiobook
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Narrator: Julia Whelan
Source: Publisher and Personal Shelf
When Luce is assaulted on the cliffs near an Alaskan village, she expects to die when she tumbles into the icy water below. Instead, she transforms into a mermaid. Luce is thrilled with her new life—until she discovers the catch.
Lost Voices is actually the first novel to get me interested in the mermaid trend that has been happening YA literature, I picked it up before I even read (and loved) Forgive My Fins and Fins Are Forever by Tera Lynn Childs, but suffice it to say that if Lost Voices had disappointed me it's unlikely I would have gone 'swimming' for more mermaid tales right afterwards. As it was I picked up Ripple by Mandy Hubbard the same day I finished devouring Lost Voices and these fish-tailed beings are certainly on my radar now.

What I loved so much about Lost Voices was its darkness, in that way Hubbard's novel resembles it far more closely than Childs' cheerful story, these are not Disney mermaids Porter writes about. Instead, Luce joins a group of sirens, each of whom died terribly and at a young age. So, although Lost Voices is intended for a YA audience, the violence and other abuse such as an attempted rape mean it is definitely more suitable for the older age range. Why did I love this awful darkness? Because it makes Luce and the other mermaids rich and complex creatures, the result of a unique mythology, their stories may be sad but by bringing them together Porter gives them a kind of shared happy ending. 

The setting of Lost Voices is also extremely unusual, Porter really brings the cold Alaskan sea to life and gives the reader a strong visual idea of the area where Luce and the other mermaids live. One of Porter's strengths is definitely description, and in particular the portions of the novel where the girls sing. When I realized the storyline was heavily centered around music, I was nervous for tacky rhyming poetry, but the songs the mermaids sing are without words and yet Porter's language truly brings them to life.

I listened to Lost Voices on audiobook, and this format makes it very obvious when a portion of a novel drags but I never got distracted while listening to the book. I thought the narrator, Julia Whelan, did a fantastic job- although I wasn't totally convinced by her Russian accent- and I really hope she reads the upcoming books. Although it has been nearly two months between finishing the book and writing this review, Lost Voices is a novel that has grown, not diminished in strength, leaving me eager for the second book in the trilogy, Waking Storms, which is due to be released July 2012. Fortunately, although the novel ends with a clear opening for a second book, it still provides resolution of enough of the story that I wasn't left dissatisfied. As a sidenote, I'm also excited to see that the cover of the second book features a mermaid with short hair like Luce has as it fits the story much better.

With her debut novel, Porter took me into a dark and twisted world, cold and deep as the ocean, but through it all there was a sharp and piercing song, leaving me with a chill and a memory I will not soon forget, it is a book which speaks the unheard words of Lost Voices.


  1. Becky @ Stories & SweetiesOctober 12, 2011 at 3:24 AM

    I've heard some mixed reviews of this one, but after reading your thoughts, I think I may pick this one up sometime soon! Such a gorgeous cover...the second one, too!

  2. the new blog layout looks terrific!


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