Heart of Power: The Siren’s Awakening

Heart of Power: The Siren’s Awakening was written by S.L. Giger and first published in 2016. It is a paranormal romance novel which focuses on a teenage girl who is magically transformed into a siren. The book is the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

Serena’s life changes forever during a school trip to Malaysia. When she sneaks off to explore a remote waterfall with her crush, the two suffer an accident that no one could hope to survive. Yet, miraculously, Serena wakes up in a cave surround by three strange women. Cathy, Melissa and Roisin inform her that her life has been saved, but it has come as a cost. They have transformed her into one of them – a siren – and she will now have to give up her old life.

Reluctantly taking on the new identity of Nathalie, she travels with Melissa to America and poses as her sixteen year old daughter. Melissa deems it important that Nathalie completes high school and spends time around other people her age. However, being a siren is wrought with problems. The mysterious Orbiters that govern the sirens decree that no mortal can be made aware of their existence. This is very difficult for a young siren, who must hide the fact that she doesn’t eat, bleed or age.

Things grow more complicated still as Nathalie finds herself attracted to Alex, a local college student who believes that Nathalie is a lot older than she actually is. As the two grow closer, Nathalie begins to imagine a future with him. Yet, as Alex slowly grows suspicious of her strange behaviour, Nathalie finds herself torn between keeping her secret and keeping him…

Despite not having the best history when it comes to reviewing paranormal romance novels, I was curious about this one as I have a bit of a passion for Greek mythology. The premise of this novel was intriguing, yet I’m sad to say that I was left disappointed. There are some good ideas here – ones that could make for a really great story – but unfortunately they were very poorly executed.

Let’s start by talking about what I did like. I do appreciate what Giger tried to do with the siren mythos here. If you’re not up on your Greek myths, the sirens are bird-like monsters that live on cliffs. Although hideous, they sing a song so beautiful that sailors are drawn towards it. Usually, this results in the sailors crashing into the rocks and being devoured by the sirens.

While Giger’s creations do take some inspiration from this legend, she really does take this idea and make it her own. Her sirens don’t sing, but they are so unnaturally attractive that men can’t help but stare at them. They have also developed beyond their need to eat men, with technological advancements now allowing them to extract adrenaline from the hearts of the dying in order to give themselves the nourishment that they need. The result are creatures that seem to be a cross between the vampires of Twilight and the reapers of Dead Like Me – irresistible, ageless, beautiful beings with a craving for human hearts. This could have been a tense tale about a teenager getting used to her new murderous urges. Unfortunately, this only really had any bearing on the plot at the start and end of the novel.

For large stretches of the story, you could forget that Nathalie is a siren. It doesn’t take her long to come to terms with the fact that her old life has been stripped from her and, once she does, the plot just becomes a typical American high school romance, rife with the usual stereotypes that plague this genre. This was made hard to read by the fact that Giger’s written style is not entirely polished. While it’s easy enough to understand, the prose felt clunky and the dialogue didn’t flow. For an example, take a look at this brief exchange between Nathalie and some bitchy cheerleaders on the subject of whether Nathalie would make a good cheerleader:

“Okay, well, you would have the body for it but to be on a good level, it does demand a lot of training, that certainly isn’t for everybody and our squad is full for this year anyways.” They both gave me a smug look. Did they seem me as a threat or why were they so stand-offish?

“I prefer spending my free time with cute guys instead of working my butt off.”

See what I mean. You can totally tell what the author is trying to get across (as cringeworthy as it is), but it just doesn’t feel as though the characters are actual American teens talking. I got the impression that perhaps English is not Giger’s first language, and that the book could have probably used the touch of a professional translator prior to publication.

Things also never really seemed to happen. There were hints of a bigger picture in the references to the Orbiters, who never appeared in the story but seemed to be a Volturi-esque governing body, yet this never really played into the story. The novel just followed Nathalie from event to event. She celebrated Thanksgiving, Christmas and Independence Day. She befriended her reclusive neighbour (who everyone claimed was disturbed but seemed to be a genuinely nice old man). She got a part time job working in a very stereotypically Irish pub run by a man who looked like a Leprechaun. I read on, waiting for the novel to build to something, but it never came. While a sudden twist was introduced in the penultimate chapter, this truly came out of left field with no foreshadowing. I can’t talk about my many issues with it here without resorting to spoilers but, needless to say, it was badly incorporated and a bit anti-climatic.

And then there were the characters. It’s not that I disliked Nathalie, but I also didn’t really like the way that she was written. Giger’s sirens automatically attract men who flirt with them constantly, solicited or not. While this shocks Nathalie early in the story, she’s told just to accept their constant fawning as a complement. And she does. This sends out a really awful message about consent in the siren world.

Added to this was Nathalie’s sex drive. This was a plot point that emerged late in the story but apparently sirens struggle to control their instinct to sleep with men on sight. This is again not portrayed as being a problem but instead something that’s just natural for sirens. Let’s note that this seems even more iffy when you look at the ages of the characters. Nathalie is above the legal age of consent in the State in which this story is set, but is still under eighteen and pretending to be in her twenties in order to maintain her relationship with the older Alex. If you’re planning on picking up this book, you should possibly bear in mind that this does eventually result in a sex scene. It’s a poorly written sex scene, but a sex scene none the less.

Beyond Nathalie, I didn’t really feel as though I had a chance to get to know many of the other characters. What we learned about the sirens mainly came in the form of exposition. We only got the briefest glimpses of them “feeding”, and Luke – the one male siren – was described as being uncontrollable and dangerous but the only glimpse we got of this was one occasion when he excused himself from the room because he had the urge to rip Alex apart.

Nathalie’s little group of school friends were more fun, but they also faded from the plot around the halfway mark in order to make room for her romance. This was disappointing as, of all the characters, these were the ones that I would have liked to see more of. Although it was strongly hinted that Sam was gay, we never found out if that was actually the case and we’ve got to assume that Phe’s bullying stopped because Nathalie asked them nicely as her tormentors just sort of give up after a while.

Anyhow, I’ve rambled for long enough. Heart of Power: The Siren’s Awakening had some nice ideas and could have made an interesting paranormal novel, but it just didn’t develop them. The plot lacks any real drama, the plot twist was weak and the supporting cast doesn’t receive any development. Unfortunately, it really wasn’t a story that I’d recommend.

Heart of Power: The Siren’s Awakening can be purchased as a Paperback and eBook on Amazon.co.uk

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