Saturday, July 2, 2011

ARC Review: Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Lost Voices
Author: Sarah Porter
Publication: Harcourt Children's Books; None edition (July 4, 2011)

Description: Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below, but instead undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid. A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: the mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce possesses an extraordinary singing talent, which makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen. However her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder?

The first book in a trilogy, Lost Voices is a captivating and wildly original tale about finding a voice, the healing power of friendship, and the strength it takes to forgive.

My Thoughts: This story was beautifully written and heartbreaking. I could feel Luce's depression and despair as she struggles to cope with her father's death and her uncle's abuse. She is used to traveling with her father as he moved from place to place stealing and writing bad checks. Now she is marooned in Alaska and living with her uncle. Her father's boat didn't come back after a fishing trip. Her uncle drinks and hits. She is afraid of him but has nowhere else to go. Her only friend is a young boy named Gum who can't speak. 

Things come to a head when her uncle, in a drunken state, attempts to rape her and leaves her on a cliff edge. She has reached the pit of despair. When she is next aware she is in the water and being rescued by Catarina. She has become a mermaid. She lives with other lost and abused young girls. Luce had lost her voice on land but in the sea she was a remarkable and powerful singer. Her first unthinking song causes a boat to run aground and the other mermaids kill all the sailors.

Luce learns that all mermaids must follow the timahk - the laws of the mermaids. First, no mermaid would ever hurt another. And, if they saw a mermaid in danger, they would try to help. Last, they would have no contact with humans. Any human who learned about them would have to die. The other mermaids tell her that all humans are evil. Luce can't believe that because she remembers her father's love. But she doesn't disagree because living with the mermaids is the first time she has felt safe and had friends. 

Luce works on improving her song and trying to control the death song. She is reluctant to kill ships and sailors but goes along. But mermaid life isn't perfect. Catarina is sometimes her friend and sometimes cool to her. Others in the group are also jealous of her voice. But events come to a head when the mermaids bring down a ship with another potential mermaid on it. Anais is different though. She wasn't abused. She was spoiled rotten by her wealthy parents. As soon as she joins the group, she changes things. She encourages the group to kill ships and sailors and gather the articles that were on the ships. She gathers jewels and clothes. She also tries to undermine the leadership of Catarina and make Luce feel unwelcome in the group.

The group changes so much that Luce knows she has to leave. But how can she leave the only home she has ever known and venture out into the huge, dangerous ocean by herself? The book was very moving. I look forward to reading the rest of the trilogy to find out what happens to Luce in the future. I recommend this story to thoughtful young adult readers. 

Favorite Quote:
Luce swayed a little. She'd done something crazy to bring that girl back to the people who loved her, but maybe there wasn't anyone like that. Maybe the girl was one of the ones no one wanted, just the way she was.
I received this eARC from NetGalley. You can get your copy here at Amazon.


  1. This sounds like a powerful read - I am not sure if it would upset me too much. Terrific review

  2. Good review. I saw another review and the response was a bit different.


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