This is my review on Lost Voices by Sarah Porter.
This is a book about mermaids, so I thought it might be too childish for me to enjoy, even though it is young adult.
When I started reading, it didn’t entirely hold my attention. Luce was too unremarkable, too seemingly ordinary, and I didn’t think the story would go anywhere interesting.
But as the book progressed, I started to like it. It had started out a little slow, but soon, as the pace picked up and Luce discovered the mermaid world, I decided it was definitely… worth reading.
This isn’t the kind of book I normally read, for sure (it’s usually science-fiction, dystopian, and mystery types) but I found myself… enchanted (lol) by the way the author described how magical this felt, or how peculiar that seemed, etc.
Some of her phrases really made me think. Here are some of my favorites:
“There was a soft waving in her head that matched the rhythm of the lapping water… She gazed around at the dim space with its glowing crystals like half-obliterated stars, listening to its constant resonance as the waves roared outside. Like living in the hollow of a violin, sustained in one endless note…”
“She had such force, such speed. She’d almost forgotten how magnificent it felt, this rushing power, the clear water parting around her shoulders, the sting of salt on her tongue… Then she was in the open sea. It was vast, silvery, and treacherous, full of drifting life.”
“It came out in a long beautiful gust. And it was much more powerful than she’d intended: a luxurious rush of sweet, high sounds.”
“She could be free and wild and beautiful forever; she could welcome the cold into her heart and not care how many people she killed. It would just be a game to her… she could laugh at the people she drowned for believing the forgiveness in her song was real… A trace of her father’s warm voice thrummed in her mind, a residue left over from her dream. Luce decided then that she’d rather die. Something about [humans] was marvelous, too. A sustained note of something that was greater and sweeter than any emotion… There had to be some way she could stay a mermaid but still keep that note alive in her own song.”
“She could just discover another magic her singing could accomplish, something besides enchanting humans… The feeling of that music racing through them was simply too magnificent, and Luce knew that no one who’d felt it could ever give it up. Her voice, she thought, was her truest self. But if they could sing in a new way… maybe the others wouldn’t want to kill people anymore.”
“If she let her voice go where it wanted, it always turned into… the death song: a single sweet, high note sustained for an impossibly long time, then an endless fall… But her voice couldn’t be completely evil. It was just a matter of understanding it. Luce knew her voice contained enormous power, and she was excited by the prospect that it might be capable of more than luring humans to their deaths.”
“She let her voice rise into that high, aching note. But then she held it right there… refusing to let it tumble down the scale. She could feel that her voice was angry with her, trying to fight free of her control…”
“[Rachel] would wake up screaming in the night, and she imagined monsters lurking everywhere they went. But her craziness gave her singing a disturbed, haunting, feverish quality different from anything Luce had ever heard before. Luce thought it might make people want to die simply by making them too terrified to remain alive.”
“She felt the pain and darkness beating within her, until the whole cold ocean seemed to be trapped in her heart. And when the ache grew so fierce that she didn’t know how she could stand it for another moment, she sang.”
“The screams became another strand of music, weaving through the dark melodic cries of the girl lost on a cliff above the sea.”
“Tessa was fighting the change. She was struggling against Luce’s enchantment with all the strength she had left. ‘No,’ Tessa said.. ‘I want to die human.'”
“Everyone had betrayed her… At one word from her the glass would shatter, and all of the people in that room would drown. She could hear herself shriek the order, telling the waves to kill… It was a long time before Luce was able to understand that it had all been a dream. And it was even longer before she could stop sobbing.”
“Luce felt happiest… making up the songs she would have sung to Tessa if only she had lived… She must be getting closer to discovering the new and hidden power… sometimes she could almost feel it, just waiting around the next curl of her song. She could just catch glimpses of it, and it had its own secret shimmering…”
“The face hovering in front of her was uncomfortably, aggressively beautiful. Luce found herself thinking that the girl in the mirror had beauty in the same way that someone might have a consuming disease. She… knew her inhuman beauty had the color of endless loneliness. Maybe that was why Tessa had preferred death to becoming what Luce was now?”
“It was real, then. The wave was at her command. It was exactly, exactly like her horrible dream. She must have a secret desire-one she couldn’t even consciously acknowledge-to hurt the people she loved most.”
“Cat was starting to drift again, her words ascending into an ethereal, mournful lilt, a drowsy half-song.”
“None of the anger, none of the bitterness mattered now; they were together in the song, united in one endless vibration.”
“Catarina should have been in a fury. She should have been terrifying, a blaze of blanched skin and leaping flames. Instead her face seemed to cave in on itself.”
“They actually believed what Anais was saying to them… that their parents had left them or hurt them because of some deep, secret flaw in their own hearts. It didn’t take much, just the smallest crack of self-doubt, and Anais’s words could insinuate themselves through the gap and then drive it wider…. She would find a way-someday-that the mermaids could live without anything they had to be ashamed of. She would find the song that showed them how.”
“Everything around her seemed to have its own voice: the water hummed and purled, the rocks trilled in a wheezy soprano, and the faint moonlight fell like the broken notes produced by creatures that were half seal and half cello. The cliffs had two different voices: one for day and one for the blue, sun-streaked Alaskan night… Her mind was stained by the residue of dreamed music, until she sometimes wondered if he was hallucinating… She didn’t feel quite as lonely now that the world kept singing back to her.”
“Luce paused to stare out at the sea, which was always so familiar even when it was strange, but where she was always so utterly lost even when she knew exactly where she was.In the faintly dusky sky she could just make out a pale scattering of stars. She listened to their buzzing voices… She thought that, after dinner, she might try to describe the sound to Catarina, and she turned between the cliffs carried by a sudden feeling of elation. A clean stroke of freedom would carry them both away from here.”
“The cave was empty… Catarina was gone, and Luce was all alone. After a while Luce curled up with her head leaning on a rock, wondering why she wasn’t consumed by despair. Instead she felt an inexplicable sense of peace. She was cradled in music. The rocks around her chanted like slow, growling bells, and each curl of the water stroked her fins with silky notes. She’d been so afraid of leaving her tribe, but she understood that she never would have heard the music resonating out of every crook of the world if she hadn’t taken so many risks. She’d opened her heart to that music in solitude and it had come to her. And even now that her tribe was broken, her friends dead or vanished, Luce realized the world’s voice sounded hopeful, vital, full of the soft vibrancy of pure being. Gently she sand back, letting her voice glide into complex harmonies with all the inhuman voices humming around her.”
As this story went on, I grew to really like it. It became an awesome read! It was by far my favorite book of… this type. I wouldn’t consider it a whole genre.
As I neared the end, I became so incredibly wowed with this masterpiece. I could not get it out of my head, and I wouldn’t stop thinking about it.
Also, I shipped Catarina and Luce… since they first met. 😥
This book was absolutely fascinating and I certainly recommend it. Although it seems at first to be a silly, shallow concept (mermaids), this book takes that soo much further and deeper. It’s a journey, an adventure. A story about discovering magic, friendship, and the nature of people.
The ending was a bittersweet one. Luce is without her tribe: her mermaid friends. Her human family is long gone, and she is separated from her best friend, Catarina, who she had a deep connection with from the start (AND WHO I SHIPPED HER WITH ALL ALONG). But the ending is about acceptance, about being alone and seeking comfort in your surroundings (and the surprising magic contained in them). Luce is alone now, save for the waves and music around her, which is good enough company for her. And so she must find contentment and fulfillment in living the rest of her immortal life on her own- a change from being surrounded by the many mermaids in her tribe.
I found it achingly awful that Luce must spend eternity going on adventures and discovering magic without a soul to share them with. She and Catarina could have done all of that together. They could have fallen in love and experience the world together. Instead, Luce must learn all this undying, captivating knowledge, and enjoy it all by herself. And all of that would just disappear forever when she would finally pass. Even some of that knowledge she’d probably forget. All that she could learn, all that she could do… could so easily be forgotten and lost. And no one else would know of her experiences, her adventures, or anything. No one would be even aware such magic and knowledge existed.
In the end, Luce truly is alone, and she is left to face the world and uncover its secrets without someone else to share the delight with.