Review: A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Amazon.com: A Song Below Water: A Novel (9781250315328): Morrow, Bethany  C.: Books

Our August 2020 book club pick! We discussed A Song Below Water last night at our virtual YA book club that we co-host with Bards Alley, an independent bookstore.

It was chosen because of the timely discussion of protests, but with a touch of fantasy. Like last month, we will give a brief summary of the plot and then go over some of our discussion questions.

Our next book club meeting is September 21! We hope to see you there.   

Book Summary

Tavia and Effie may not be related, but they’re still sisters. The two share everything and keep the rest of the world at arms length. After all, it’s a difficult time to be both black and a mythical creature in America. Tavia is terrified about people learning that she is a siren. Weird things happen to Effie, so she’s just trying to figure out what she can do. 

After Tavia learns about a siren being murdered and the jury letting the killer walk free, she knows she has to play a part in ending this nonsensical violence. Told in two POVs, Tavia and Effie have different experiences in Portland, Oregon, but they always stick together. 

Things We Liked

1. Themes of friendship and sisterhood.

2. The timeliness of the discussion of race relations.

3. Tavia and Effie as characters. 

4. How sirens served as metaphor for the current problems in this country. 

Things We Didn’t Like

1. The lack of world building.

2. The fact that Morrow mentioned a lot of mythical creations without any explanation of what they can do. 

3. The lack of the depth for many of the minor characters. 

We liked the concept, yet the execution left us disappointed.

Did you pick out any themes throughout the book?

The theme of sisterhood/friendship is apparent from the beginning because of the relationship between Tavia and Effie.  Even though they aren’t related, they live together. They tell each other everything. We liked their close bond and they could trust each other with all of their secrets.

Also, race is an important theme. Only black women can be sirens. Sirens of all other races went extinct years ago. If a siren gets killer or injured, it’s their own fault according to most people. That makes Tavia’s real identity a major secret. Protests in this book are about racial equality, as well as mythical creature equality.

How did the characters change throughout the story? How did your opinion of them change?

Effie grew the most throughout the books as she began to discover the secrets of her identity. She finally learns to stand up to her family and demand answers…and boy does she get them!

Tavia had her changes too. She becomes a lot more confident and secure in her identity. Attending the protest really challenged her world view.

The Gargoyle character also had us surprised in a great way! Without spoiling anything, we enjoyed learning the truth in this character who doesn’t seem important at the beginning.

How did you feel about the ending? What did you like, what did you not like, and what do you wish had been different?

We felt the book was too short because a lot of things weren’t explained. However we saw that there will be a book 2 featuring one of the minor characters, so maybe our questions will be answered. 

Without spoiling the ending, we wish Tavia and Effie weren’t going off in different directions. While it’s quite complicated, we believe they need each other. 

Rating: ⭐⭐.5/⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

20 thoughts on “Review: A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

  1. I gave this a much higher rating but I absolutely get the points you’ve made. For me I think the unique, almost urban fantasy way the world building was implemented trumped the lack of depth. But it definitely could have been pushed and explored more.

    Great read and love the review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read this right after its release and felt quite similarly about it. While the concept stood out to me, and the themes were powerful, I felt like the execution was lacking. I was deeply confused during a lot of the book, wondering how some particular character or moment applied to what was going on – big picture, and feeling like I was missing backstory. I just wanted slightly MORE. But I did really like Effie and Tavia, and I hope the author continues working on projects and releasing new books so we can see how their talent grows and blooms!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s okay how we feel. We were so confused about the elokos because they were never explained. Plus, why were the acceptable in society when sirens weren’t? It had so much potential if she focused on world building in the first half of the book. We hope she continues too publish too!

      Like

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