In his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, Stephen King says, “Language does not always have to wear a tie and lace-up shoes. The object of fiction isn’t grammatical correctness but to make the reader welcome and then tell a story . . . . to make him/her forget, whenever possible, that he/she is reading a story at all.” This is the state of mind I held to while I read Lauren Sanatra’s Bay of Sirens.
This is not a well-edited book, and I will not pretend that this will not be a turn off to many readers. For those of you who are willing to take this risk with me, let me tell you that Sanatra has a great story to tell, and I felt very welcomed into the world, and found myself wanting more.
This Fantasy Romance does many things that more professionally published authors have failed to give me, and a good number of those things have to do with the protagonist, Maddie. As I said in my Goodreads review of this title, Sanatra has removed many of the elements that frustrated me with Bella Swan in Twilight, or rather, the way her wants and desires were treated in the text by the author and the surrounding characters. Maddie is granted agency over what she wants by Sanatra’s pen, and is determined to be part of an active player in narrative, and not simply an element of it.
Combined with a premise that I have not personally seen much of outside of a Guillermo del Toro movie—the dreamy male LI is a siren—I was compelled to keep reading. The romance plot is quickly established, then steps out of the way to allow the story to build around it. Instead of a slow burn you get a steady flame guiding you through, even if it’s not all rainbows and happy mermaids.
There are many places where the prose could be tightened, where thoughts are thought internally and then repeated as dialogue, and more than a few distracting typos. I won’t blame anyone if they can’t find it in themselves to give Bay of Sirens a shot. Spending our dollars on an indie author is a risky endeavor (I argue the same is true of many, many lauded traditional authors, so I digress). I do think there is a measure of loss to the choice to pass this over, as Sanatra has a something wonderful in her book, and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for more of this world with the hopes of more attention paid to the editing process going forward.
You can purchase Bay of Sirens from the links on its Goodreads page.