Monday, December 26, 2011

Review: Sirensong by Jenna Black


Sirensong by Jenna Black

Series: Faeriewalker (#3)
Pages: 312
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Published: January, 2012
IBSN: 9780312575953

When Dana is invited to Faerie to be officially presented at the Seelie Court, it's no easy decision. After all, everyone knows Titania, the Seelie Queen, wants her dead. But Titania claims not to be the one behind the death threats; and her son, Prince Henry, makes the decision a whole lot easier when he suggests Dana might be arrested for (supposedly) conspiring with her aunt Grace to usurp the Seelie throne. So she and her father better do as they're told...

The journey through Faerie is long-and treacherous. Dana thought it would be a good idea to have friends along, but her sort-of-boyfriend, Ethan, and her bodyguard's son, Keane, just can't seem to get along, and Kimber's crush on Keane isn't making things any easier. When a violent attack separates Dana from their caravan, the sexy Erlking saves her just in the nick of time... and makes it clear that he hasn't given up on making her his own.

Arriving at Titania's beautiful palace should be a relief. But Dana is soon implicated in an assassination attempt against Titania's granddaughter, and is suddenly a fugitive, forced to leave her father behind as she and her friends flee for their lives. Will she be able to prove her innocence before the forces of the Seelie Court – or, worse, the Erlking – catch up with her? And will she save her father before he pays the ultimate price in her stead?

Dana is invited to be presented at Seelie court, and with danger foreseeable whether she attends or not, she decides to go. But upon arrival, she's framed for a crime punishable by death. And with no other known Faeriewalker capable of committing the crime, proving her innocence and saving not just herself, but her friends and family as well, seems impossible.

Jenna Black's Faeriewalker series was her YA debut after a career of writing adult urban fantasy. The genre switch seemed pointless, with this new story just an adult urban fantasy with a YA cover design and a character several years younger. A teenaged character does not a teen novel make.

The characters are unrealistically created, and given stock personalities and dynamics. Our protagonist is given a kind of hero complex and an unnatural sense of compassion for people she doesn't know, though for all this selflessness, she's a weak and whiny girl who couldn't save anyone on her own and without her inexplicably admiring friends. I don't mind an unlikable narrator as long they're a realistic and fleshed out one (and don't make constant, misandric sweeping statements about men). But Dana's voice wasn't one that at all helped getting through the story.

Black's prose was clumsy and inarticulate and often repetitive, constantly reminding us in melodramatic fashion of things we're well aware of. Dana takes care to remind everyone that people are after her at least three dozen times, each time become less and less reputable as the strong, selfless character the author tries to make her. A quote that stood out to me while reading to demonstrate this unrefined style, complete with heinous parenthetical:

"...I impressed myself myself by catching it one-handed. (I had to catch it one-handed because Ethan was squeezing me so tightly against him my arm was trapped.)"
Whether Sirensong is the end of the series or not, I'm not sure, but the distinct impression of a permanent conclusion was given by the rushed and deus ex machina denouement in which all of Dana's vaguely catch-22-esque problems were resolved by an very uncharacteristic concession.

Sirensong was an irrelevantly-titled story of standard Faerie mythology for people with an impressive ability to ignore frustrating characters and plot devices and lose themselves in a relatively fast-paced unfolding of events.