By: Rachael Merkt
Books that blend age-old fantasies with modern dramas are refreshing in comparison to the abundance of dystopian society novels lining most book shelves.
Sarah Porter’s “Lost Voices” is the gripping first book in a trilogy that proves what it takes to find a voice in a world where everyone wants to quell it.
“Lost Voices” follows Luce, a girl trying to escape her dim life in a small seaside Alaskan fishing village. Luce lives with her abusive uncle and hangs on desperately to memories of her father who was lost at sea.
Porter introduces Luce as quiet, yet incredibly intelligent; she finds glimmers of happiness in books that transport her far from the cold, cloud-covered coastline. However, Luce cannot escape her alcoholic uncle who is far too interested in Luce’s resemblance to her mother.
Porter does not disappoint when introducing fantasy into the novel. In Porter’s alternate reality, the girls who nobody hears when they cry for help are transformed into fierce mermaids destined to never age and cursed with an uncontrollable desire to use their voices to lure humans to their deaths.
After being assaulted by her uncle, Luce undergoes her own transformation and releases herself to the icy Alaskan Sea. However, Luce is not alone.
A tribe of mermaids that has gathered despite their varying backgrounds and ages finds Luce and makes her one of their own. Beautiful, free, and dangerous the mermaids represent everything Luce has ever dreamed of for herself, as she is no longer trapped by the land or the people who inhabit it.
However, Luce is unable to come to terms with her new murderous lifestyle and is torn between her desires and her conscience.
Porter creates a remarkable web of subplots that add to the story, including Luce’s struggle to keep her humanity alive and her heart from becoming cold.
Her kind-hearted nature leads her to rescue a boy from a sinking cruise ship. In doing so, Luce sets into motion a series of events that become incredibly important in the coming two novels where the world of the mermaids and humans clash.
However, Porter also introduces a new mermaid who represents everything the oldest mermaids and Luce fear about modern society, creating a clash between traditions and changing ways that mirrors the conflicts in the real world. Luce finds the courage to challenge the newcomer not only for the good of her crumbling tribe but for her own integrity.
“Lost Voices” is incredibly original and brushes challenging topics such as abuse, segregation, and making the choice between one’s heart or helping the ones we love the most. Porter introduces colorful characters, beautifully illustrates the frigid Alaskan Sea, and captivates readers with the story of a girl who finds her voice in the unlikeliest of places.