Lexi killed Stephen on her 16th birthday. She lured him into the water and drowned him. For the last year, she has been estranged from everyone at school because of this, but it wasn’t Lexi’s fault. She’s a siren, and her mother committed suicide before she could tell Lexi about her family’s curse. Every night, Lexi is drawn to the water but is afraid to go to the nearby sea for fear of dragging another innocent boy to his death. She spends hours every night swimming at a remote mountain lake so she can quench her desire for the water while all those around her stay safe. When Cole, Stephen’s best friend, starts to bring her out of her shell, she is able to resucitate her social life, but when she starts to fall in love with him, she fears for his safety. Enter Erik, who is not only very attractive but is a nix, a water spirit who drowns women in rivers. His mother is a siren, and he tells Lexi that if the two of them fall in love before his 18th birthday, the curse will be broken and both of them will be able to lead normal lives. Even though she loves Cole, she dumps him and gives Erik a chance. Can she leave her curse behind permanently?
Strengths: Didn’t really want another paranormal romance, and just bailed on Jones’ After Obsession (seemed too high school), but this one really pulled me in. Aside from some shirtlessness and one totally inexplicable f-bomb on page 250 or something, this one was very good. The ending was a fabulous twist that I did not see coming at all.
Weaknesses: I now have the recurring moral dilemma: do I white out the f-bomb or leave it and hope that students read it quickly enough that they don’t notice it and bring the wrath of their parents down on me. Sigh.
Carson, Rae. The Girl of Fire and Thorns
Shortlisted for the Cybils YA SciFi/Fantasy award; nominated by Hallie Tibbits.
Elisa is the second princess of Orovalle, and is married of to Alejandro, king of a desert kingdom at the age of 16. Eisa is not a complete innocent-- she is the bearer of a Godstone (permanently attached at her navel!) which facilitates her prayers to a limited degree, but more importantly, makes her a target. She is well educated, shrewd, and quickly learns to deal with Alejandro, who is nice to her but not a nice man. Just as Elisa is figuring out her new royal role and secrets about her past, she is kidnapped and hurried across the desert by a political faction that finds her useful. And Elisa is VERY useful-- while the Godstone warns her of danger and is of little help otherwise, Elisa kills an animagus, figures out what is going on in the war, and keeps her band of companions alive-- with one painful exception. Returning to Alejandro's palace a wiser and more assertive woman, she must once again be at the forefront of battle strategy while trying to figure out her role as Bearer... and as the ruler of a kingdom. While a sequel is possible, this could also easily stand alone.
Strengths: In this Spanish-esque fantasy setting, Elisa is at first self-indulgent, heavy, and slow, but her travails in the desert lead her to an improved personality and appearance in a very natural way. Like Pierce's Alanna, Elisa is a great heroine, but I LOVED that she was a somewhat reluctant one.
Weaknesses: So much death, and they made me really sad because I was envisioning the story line continuing with several of the characters who died. Does make me want to read a sequel to see if there is a romance for Elisa!