This is not the first mermaid book I've read, but this is the first mermaid book where they aren't singing on rocks and rescuing prince's from sunken ships. These mermaids are dangerous. They are murders. Jealous creatures that drown their victims when they are at their peek of happiness so they can absorb said happiness into themselves. Fun bunch, right?
Calder and his sisters have been searching for Jason Hancock for decades. He is responsible for the death of their mother and they are desperate for revenge. When they finally find him and his family, they devise a plan to get Hancock out into the water once Calder gets close to one of his daughters, either Lily or Sophie. Originally planning to use Sophie, Calder changes his mind to Lily after seeing the bond between her and Hancock.
Anne is a talented writer using both clear descriptions and engrossing main characters. I wish the secondary characters had a bit more depth to them as they all seemed a bit flat and, for some of them, I didn't really see their importance. They were just kind of . . . there.
The romance doesn't become a factor until closer to the end of the novel. What I enjoy about this romance is that Lily doesn't immediately fall for Calder. She knows there is something off about him and avoids him, trusting her gut and not falling for the creepy stalker. It takes him a while to gain her trust, even after he proves it to an exceptional degree.
Lies Beneath is dark. These mermaids are out for revenge, for blood, and their own personal brand of justice. Anne's take on mermaid mythology is wonderfully different. She explains that ever gnawing question of just how mercreatures are born, gives them the ability to walk on land while giving them the need to be in water, and gives them the perfect mix of beauty and danger.
First of all, I’m highly annoyed there’s a mermaid on the cover. Sure, I can understand that a merman doesn’t have quite the same draw, but that’s not the point. Boy narrator should equal boy on cover (if there must be a person). It’s just a simple fact.
Maybe it’s due to my ragey mood lately, but my past few reads have all managed to leave me with a vaguely annoyed and angry feel, and sadly Lies Beneath is no exception. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, though. In fact, I finished it in somewhere around 24 hours which is pretty rare for me. Basically I liked the core of the story, but a bunch of little things annoyed me.
1) Transitions. Maybe I just wasn’t paying close enough attention, but I found myself going “wait, he’s wearing clothes now?” and “when did THEY get there?” pretty often. I don’t enjoy feeling lost when it’s unintentional.
2) I feel like the mermaid lore should’ve been explained long before it was. Heck, when it WAS explained I still had a lot of questions. At the beginning all this stuff is just thrown at the reader like they’re supposed to know what it means already and the rest f the book continues on in a similar fashion, at least where mermaids are concerned.
3) What’s with all the hate?! I mean, I know the hate and gloom and doom are part of their nature, but I couldn’t get on board with it. I couldn’t connect with it, so I was just left sitting here wanting to punch Calder and his sisters in the nose.
4) Really, Calder, you couldn’t see that way Tallulah felt about you?
All that aside, I really liked Calder and Lily’s relationship. In the beginning you can tell he’s just using her by his snarky arrogance and willingness to manipulate her. But then he slowly starts to warm up to her and despite how much he tried to deny it, ends up really caring for her
Then there’s Lily. When she’s first introduced I thought she was just going to be an annoying, depressed artsy girl but she definitely wasn’t. Instead of being all aloof and mysterious she straight-up tells Calder he makes her nervous. Plus, she basically tells him he’s a weirdo (which, considering his actions, is fair) over and over again. I also liked that though she starts t let him in she doesn’t fully accept him until near the end.
The Nutshell Lies Beneath had its annoyances for me, but I still found it to be an enjoyable read. The mermaid lore isn’t my favorite, but it’s worth reading for Calder and Lily’s relationship.
What I did like about Lies Beneath quite a bit was the writing. Anne Greenwood Brown definitely has talent. I like the way she puts her sentences together. She doesn't write down to teens at all, which I'm always happy to see. I also really loved the usage of the poetry in the book.
Now, let's talk about the romance. I'm really not entirely sure how I feel about it. On the surface (water pun!), Lily and Calder's relationship falls into the typical YA paranormal relationship: dangerous paranormal boy and the girl who cannot resist him because he's oh so pretty. Not to mention the fact that I was a little uncomfortable with how young Lily seemed, especially when paired with the fact that Calder is who knows how old and a killer merman.
However, there was another side to their romance that was a bit more unique that makes me somewhat okay with it. Lily, though she is attracted to Calder, does not immediately give into that. She hides it successfully for a while. It takes her some time to trust him. She confronts him openly and repeatedly about what his deal is and why he's following her around. That, I liked. In the end, though, she still goes for him, and isn't particularly angry to learn that he's lied to her or tried to kill her dad. Considering that she loves her family, her reaction was completely unbelievable.
The real problem I had with Lies Beneath, though, was the world building. Basically, I cannot fathom (another water pun!) how mermaid respiration works. I can totally accept that they shift into their mermaid forms. When human, they breathe like people do; as mermaids, they can breath underwater. What I don't get is why they can breathe underwater AND above the water in their mermaid forms.
Fish breathe via their gills. Do the mermaids have gills on their tails? That would explain why they can breathe with their heads out of the water, since the tail would still be submerged. Unfortunately, that does not explain how Calder was able to breathe oxygen into Lily's mouth while they swam around. Even if he does breathe through his human mouth, he wouldn't be exhaling oxygen. Humans don't exhale oxygen and neither do fish. I guess he could be processing the water into oxygen and immediately passing it to her, but I just had trouble with the whole thing.
If you're a reader that is frustrated by little details, like I am, you may want to try another book. However, if you're note, Lies Beneath is a well-written paranormal romance novel.