I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Storm Siren by Mary Weber
Series: Storm Siren #1
Published: 2014 by Thomas Nelson
Genres: Fantasy, Steampunk, Young Adult
Source: the publisher
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Storm Siren by Mary Weber is the story of a young girl who must learn to control her powers to save her kingdom.
Female elementals aren’t supposed to exist, but Nym is the exception to the rule. When Nym gets angry, she calls down storms that kill people. It’s something that she can’t control. After her parents died, Nym was made a slave, and the story opens as she’s about to be sold for the 15th time. Her former owners had a tendency to get struck by lightning, which should serve as a warning as to why you shouldn’t enslave elementals.
As she’s standing on the auction block, people realize that she’s an elemental and she accidentally calls down a storm. One of the king’s advisers is standing in the crowd, and she realizes that harnessing Nym’s abilities for the good of the kingdom could represent a pivotal turning point in the war. Adora purchases her, and Nym begins her training with a man named Eogan who can help her learn to control her abilities. Nym struggles with her training because she doesn’t want to be a weapon. She feels a tremendous weight on her conscience for all of the deaths that she’s already caused, and she wants to be done with it. While using her powers in combat seems like an easy solution, she doesn’t feel like it’s morally acceptable. Meanwhile, Nym begins to develop feelings for her mentor, and it’s those feelings that teach her how to calm the storm within her.
One of the things that I enjoyed about Storm Siren is the way that Nym’s own background as a slave leads her to question the larger political structure of Faelen. The country has major problems with income inequality, and Nym spent her life helping with the harvests in peasant villages, where the people had little to eat and were barely scraping by. When she becomes a member of Adora’s household, she sees the lavish parties held by the court, and even ordinary meals are rich and filled with delicacies. She can’t stand the lack of awareness or sensitivity on the part of the nobles, and she makes up her mind to do what she can to change it. Even as other people are trying to use Nym as a tool, she has her own agenda and the welfare of the common people to motivate her to think outside the box.
I did wonder why Nym allowed herself to be intimidated by Adora (see paragraph one, on why you shouldn’t enslave elementals). Adora is a monster, and rules her house with an iron fist. She’s got a huge crush on Eogan, and has killed maids who have showed even slight interest in him. Adora uses her position of power to try to keep Nym in line, to the point where she hurts one of Nym’s friends. Nym’s an elemental, for chrissakes! Call down a storm and zap the bitch with lightning, don’t just stand there and take it! And I get the fact that there’s a power imbalance politically/socially, but at the same time, if you have the power to control the elements, then you have the ability to stand up for yourself.
Mary Weber reminds me a bit of George R. R. Martin. Be prepared for every character you love to die. No one is safe. There were several points in the book where I had to take a minute, put the book down, and scream “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” as I mourned the loss of a character I’d become fond of.
Storm Siren was a pretty decent YA fantasy. I enjoyed the way that it integrated steampunk elements (Faelen’s enemies invented bomb-carrying zeppelins, which is one of the big reasons why they’ve had so much of an advantage before Nym) into a more traditional fantasy setting. The book ends on a super cliffhanger, so now I’m anxiously waiting for Book 2. *crosses fingers and hopes it comes out soon*