Saturday 21 January 2023

Lies we Sing to the Sea

Lies we sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood (Harper Collins) ISBN 97880008528080 RRP $19.99 (PB)

Reviewed by Nean McKenzie

In Homer’s Odyssey, when Odysseus finally returns to his wife Penelope in Ithica, he has all twelve of her maids hung for disloyalty. This young adult story is set many years later, in an Ithican kingdom cursed by Poseidon, God of the sea. Each year, Ithica must find twelve girls to sacrifice, otherwise their land will be destroyed. Leto is one of these girls and at the beginning of the story she is hung and thrown into the ocean. However, she washes up alive on the magical island of Pandou, where Melantho, half girl, half sea creature prepares her for her fate. In order to break the curse and stop the sacrifices, Leto must kill Matthias, the king of Ithica.

Leto is a feisty, likeable character, who falls in love with both Melantho and Matthias. Not surprisingly, this creates some complications. One she is supposed to kill and the other, she learns, will also die when the curse is lifted. But time is getting short, and another twelve girls will be hanged, and many more in the future, if Leto doesn’t carry out her task. Both Leto and Melantho, who turn into sea creatures, have the ability to control sea water. This can be a weapon when required and great for fighting pirates.

The plot moves quickly along its rather twisty path, but is quite easy to follow, especially because of the developing relationships of the characters. Leto is also the daughter of an oracle, and her powers provide foreshadowing of things to come. The historical Greek setting is an appealing time and place to read about. And there’s plenty of romance as well.

Lies We Sing to the Sea is UK writer Sarah Underwood’s first novel.

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