Calder White lives in the cold, clear waters of Lake Superior, the only brother in a family of murderous mermaids. To survive, Calder and his sisters prey on humans, killing them to absorb their energy. But this summer the underwater clan targets Jason Hancock out of pure revenge. They blame Hancock for their mother’s death and have been waiting a long time for him to return to his family’s homestead on the lake. Hancock has a fear of water, so to lure him in, Calder sets out to seduce Hancock’s daughter, Lily. Easy enough — especially as Calder has lots of practice using his irresistible good looks and charm on unsuspecting girls. Only this time Calder screws everything up: he falls for Lily — just as Lily starts to suspect that there’s more to the monsters-in-the-lake legends than she ever imagined. And just as his sisters are losing patience with him.
Lies Beneath is my first book foray into the world of mermaids/mermen/merpeople. Not going to lie – while I was curious, I was also feeling like maybe mermaids might be a little too far-fetched for me to get into. I was really curious, though, because it seems like there are lots of merpeople books either in new release or soon-to-be published. And as a kid, what little girl didn’t want to be a mermaid? While many of the girls a little younger than me were obsessed with Ariel, this was the mermaid I was fascinated by:
If you’ve never seen the Tom Hanks classic Splash from the 80s, rectify your situation immediately.
The first thing that impressed me about Lies Beneath is that it is told from the perspective of a male main character. YAY YAY YAY. Not that there’s anything wrong with a female main character, but finding a book from a male perspective in YA is kind of like spotting a Yeti or the Loch Ness Monster (or a mermaid) – deep down we hope that they’re really out there, and when there’s a confirmed sighting we all rush to see what the fuss is about.
I also loved that there’s finally a girl who is wary of the hot guy who is displaying some bizarro/creeptastic behavior instead of overlooking it and throwing caution to the wind because he is ZOMG SO HOT and hot guys are safe. Right? Right? Lily is a pretty sharp character and although she eventually succumbs to the charms of Calder (as we all expect her to and really, who can begrudge her?) she’s cautious at first. She doesn’t trust him. She knows that something is up and she doesn’t accept his lame attempts to explain away his stalking of her or his seeming knowledge of the mermaid situation in Lake Superior. Bravo, Lily.
While Calder is an attractive guy and he does seem to struggle with the vicious nature of being a mermaid, I still found it hard to form any sort of attachment or empathy for him. Then, about halfway through the book, he did something that changed absolutely everything for me. It was just a small act but it totally endeared him to me forever and ever and made me fist pump so hard I nearly dislocated my shoulder. After that, I was rooting for him all the way.
As great as Calder and Lily were, there are Calder’s sisters. And they are SCARY. Mean, vindictive, evil, etc. Even the “nice” one is terrifying in a lot of ways. I loved this take on mermaids. While a lot of the old school legends and myths of them are that they’re evil and prey on humans, popular culture tends to treat them as beautiful and kind. The mermaids of Lies Beneath are certainly beautiful but they’re anything but kind.
While there are a few predictable elements and I did have a slight issue with a girl as bright as Lily being willing to believe in mermaids so easily with no real proof, I was pretty engrossed by the book and it had lots of twists and turns that kept me wanting more. I didn’t realize before I started reading that this was the first book in a series and I’m looking forward to the next.