Review: A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I’m not going to lie; the beginning of A Song Below Water (the first book in the A Song Below Water series) was rough for me to get through. I don’t know for sure if it was the book itself or if it was simply the time of the year (I first cracked the spine of this book in the throws of holiday f*ckery), but I did not have an easy time settling into this story. It wasn’t until I was in the car, driving eleven hours across the country, that I finally finished this book after three weeks of struggling.

I was first drawn to A Song Below Water because of its gorgeous cover (we’ve discussed this before, I’m a magpie, I like shiny things), and then further tempted by the book blurb. A fantasy world with persecuted supernatural creatures? A story of two strong women protagonists with the central point being their friendship? Yep! Sign me up!

Our story follows Tavia and Effie through the murky waters of social injustice, family secrets, and the rigors of high school. Tavia is a secret Siren, loathed by the masses for the power she wields. She lives her life in the shadows, doing her best to hide what she is. Joined by Effie—her best friend who struggles with uncertainty about her own suspected preternatural lineage—they cling to each other as the aftermath of a siren murder trial creates a social/political maelstrom. 

I loved the way Morrow blended current social justice issues with the fantastical world she created. I also loved the lore. It was unique and refreshing, and constantly engaging. I wanted to pluck myself off my couch (and later my car seat) and deposit myself straight into the world. You get a strong sense of the main characters falling in love, page by page, with Tavia and Effie. And their friendship. All in all, I have plenty of positive things to say about the book, and I can’t wait to dive into the second installment, A Chorus Rises

If I had been asked to rate this book in early December, I would have felt comfortable middling with a three-star. However, after making it through to the end, my feelings changed. It’s a solid four-star for me! 

I had some grievances, chiefly how overwritten the formative chapters were. It’s almost impossible to avoid “info-dumping” in fantasy (there’s so much lore and so little time!), but, at times, it certainly felt like a slog. I kept putting the book down, feeling like I’d read for far longer than I actually had been. And that says to me that it was overwritten/the pacing was off. 

I also struggled a bit with the “voice”—at least in the first few chapters. Young Adult is a genre that is incredibly hit or miss for me. Sometimes, they hit the spot, and others read too immaturely. The first few chapters from Effie’s perspective were the latter. 

Truth be told, I don’t know that I would have continued if it weren’t for the book being available on Audio (which is strange, given that I’m not the biggest fan of audiobooks). All in all, I’m happy that I gave the book another chance. It really came together after the first few chapters!

You can find Bethany C. Morrow: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Website and Goodreads.


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