“On the island of Skylge, electricity is only for the Currents – the rich ruling class who once came from across the sea and brought the holy fire of St. Brandan to Skylge. Ever since, the light in the Brandaris Tower has protected the islanders. Heeding the Siren’s call will drown your body and steal your soul, but the sacred light in the Tower will chase the merfolk away.
When Skylger girl Enna welcomes her brother back from a long sea voyage, he gives her a special present from the mainland – an electronic record only playable on a Current device. The problem is that Royce Bolton, Current heartthrob and the town’s most gifted pianist, wants it too. After she stubbornly refuses to sell the LP featuring his favorite artist, he suggests sharing the record by secretly meeting up in his private summer house. Taken aback yet thrilled, Enna agrees – and discovers that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to Current society and the history of Skylge. Why do the Sirens tempt the islanders to give themselves up to the sea? And where does the Currents’ monopoly on electricity really come from?
While struggling with these questions, Enna begins to fall for Royce, risking everything to be with a guy who is clearly wrong for her. She will learn that the sound of Sirens isn’t the most treacherous thing out there to haunt her dreams.” – Amazon.com
One of the most interesting things about Sound of Sirens is the juxtaposition of modern and traditional Nordic cultures existing side by side. The lifestyle of the Currents is familiar, with technological advances seemingly on par with Western society circa at least the 1980s. The Skylgers, on the other hand, have a much more pre-industrial way of life, although they seem to benefit from some non-electrically based Current products. The two societies also have their own religions. Not much is revealed about the Currents’ worship of St. Brandan, but the Skylgers clearly have their own traditions and history, although much of it is suppressed by the ruling class.
Minkman’s writing seems to skim lightly over some very deep waters. The story serves to set up the conflict between the Currents and the Skylgers, and introduces the relationship between Enna and Royce, but it never goes into much detail. In particular, we see very little of the Currents’ lifestyle, which is understandable since the book is told entirely from Enna’s point of view. My hope is that their side of the story, as well as the history and mythology of the Skylgers, will be explored in more depth throughout the series.
For the most part these missing pieces only engaged my curiosity, but in one respect the shortage of detail did do a disservice to the story – the book lacks atmosphere. This is unfortunate, because both the setting and the mysterious, sinister quality of the Nixen could have provided a great deal of emotional depth to the story with just a little more description and sensory detail. I would like to have had a better mental image of the island, as well, in order to fully engage with the story.
This is an intriguing start to what promises to be an original dystopian series. I’m looking forward to the next installment!
Title: Sound of Sirens (Tales of Skylge, Book One)
Author: Jen Minkman
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Young Adult
Publication: Dutch Venture Publishing (November 27, 2014)
Price: $0.99 (Kindle and Nook), $5.69 (paperback)
Author’s Website: http://jenminkman.blogspot.com/