Reviews for Secret of the Sirens


BooklistOnline.com Reviews
When her parents move abroad, 11-year-old Connie Lionheart is left behind with her eccentric Aunt Evelyn as an alternative to boarding school. Unbeknownst to Connie, Evelyn is part of the worldwide Society for the Protection of Mythical Creatures. When Connie stows away on one of the group's boating expeditions, she learns of the Society's aims and discovers that its local chapter is trying to save an aerie of sirens who, in desperation to protect their habitat, have already killed three oil company workers. As the situation's urgency mounts, Connie learns that her long-standing affinity for animals is something much more profound: she is a Universal, possessing the rare ability to communicate with dragons, unicorns, selkies, and other mythical beings. With an ecological message that lends the adventure timely overtones, this epic fantasy, the first of the Companions Quartet, will have broad appeal. Many children will like the connection posited between humans and fantastical creatures, and Golding's vision of an underground community, clued in to magic and marvels, holds some of the same allure as Harry Potter and the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2007 Fall
This first installment introduces Connie Lionheart, a teenager tied by her animal communication skill to an ancient society devoted to protecting mythical creatures. Connie's first challenge is to shield a group of sirens from an overzealous oil company. Though the book's a bit preachy, its ecological bent grounds this fantasy in today's reality. Copyright 2007 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2008 Spring
This first installment introduces Connie Lionheart, a teenager tied by her animal communication skill to an ancient society devoted to protecting mythical creatures. Connie's first challenge is to shield a group of sirens from an overzealous oil company. Though the book's a bit preachy, its ecological bent grounds this fantasy in today's reality. Copyright 2008 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2007 March #2
Golding offers the softer side of adventure fantasy. In the lovely opening scene, Connie plays and talks with seagulls. Living with eccentric Aunt Evelyn, she learns of a secret Society charged with protecting "mythical" beings (actually real) from humanity's violence. Each Society member is companion to a particular species: water sprites, selkies, unicorns, dragons or one of many others. Might Connie be a companion to the sirens who live on nearby rocks tempting sailors to their deaths? Her destiny is far greater: She's a universal, a rare human companion to all mythical creatures. Foils include an international oil company poised to pollute the ocean, and Kullervo, a malevolent spirit in the process of taking over the world. Perspective is mostly Connie's but occasionally shifts to Col, a companion to "pegasi." Structurally epic but gentle in aura; an easily accessible tale for readers who enjoy mythical creatures. (Fantasy. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2007 May #1

G olding's YA debut, the first in the Companions Quartet, packs a serious environmental message, yet never feels heavy-handed. Eleven-year-old Connie Lionheart is not like other children--she has mismatched eyes and can talk to animals. Constantly switching schools because of assorted incidents ("Something always happens: foxes start following me around, or mice invade the classroom"), she ends up living with her odd Aunt Evelyn and soon meets popular student Col, who also has mismatched eyes. Aunt Evelyn is aware of Connie's abilities; she is a member of the Society for the Protection of Mythical Creatures, along with Col and a cast of eclectic characters. The Society is currently concerned with the sirens, who are increasingly angered by an encroaching oil company. The Society needs to find a "siren companion," someone who can approach the sirens while they are in their warlike state. Connie turns out to be a "universal companion," able to communicate with all species. Through her, the Society learns that an ancient evil spirit named Kullervo is whipping the sirens into their frenzy. Kullervo attempts to sway the tenderhearted Connie with a view of an unspoiled world--one "scoured clean" of humanity and its poisons--but the Society comes to her aid. The contemporary setting and its modern villains (including a shady oil company that covers up employee deaths) make for an entertaining read. Young readers with an environmental conscience will likely await the next outing in the series. Ages 10-up. (Apr.)

[Page 60]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 January

Gr 5-8-- While her parents are living abroad, 11-year-old Connie is forced to stay with her eccentric Aunt Evelyn. Then she notices a strange set of red ear protectors in her aunt's possession, and learns that the woman is a member of a secret society set on the protection of mythical creatures. It's not long before Connie learns of her own rare gift of communication, and of her connection to a dark and growing evil set to destroy all that the society has sought to protect. Golding's first book in this quartet is a strong fantasy filled with fantastic mythical creatures and companions alike. Connie isn't as strong or spunky as Pullman's Lyra or as clever and quick as Rowling's Hermione, but she may remind many girls of themselves, with the same insecurities and self-doubts. The story's only flaw is that the antagonist, the shapeless evil known as Kullervo (though bearing little resemblance to the character of Finnish mythology), inspires little fear. Pair this title with Kate Thompson's Switchers (Hyperion, 1998) for readers tired of books about dragons.--Lisa Marie Williams, Oshawa Public Library, Ontario, Canada

[Page 118]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2007 October
Connie Lionheart has always been good with animals, but she never suspects it is more until she moves in with her Aunt Evelyn in Cornwall. There she discovers that Evelyn belongs to the Society, an ancient organization overseeing human interaction with 'mythical' beings such as dragons and unicorns. Through inborn gifts, each member acts as "companion" to one race. Connie naturally has the rarest gift of all-she is a universal companion who can bond with any race. Of necessity, she starts with the local sirens who, angered by an oil refinery built too near their home, have started killing off refinery workers. Commanding the sirens is a malevolent shape-shifter named Kullervo. He seeks to rid the world of humans altogether, but he needs Connie's help to do it. Can the untested Connie stand against him?This first novel in the projected Companions Quartet is fast-paced, creative, and somewhat lyrically written. The appealing Connie and her friends struggle not only with the mythic world but also with friendship, environmental issues, and big-business corruption. Although these elements are all-too-believable, the fantasy elements-a remix of old standards-are unfortunately superficial. It is partly because Golding spreads her net too wide; the mythical races lack depth because there are simply too many of them vying for the reader's attention. Another issue is the cringe-inducing use of self-important titles: Connie is always "The Universal," and the others are all "Companion to [whatever]." Nevertheless it is a lively tale to try with fans of Eva Ibbotson's fantasies.-Rebecca Moore 3Q 4P M Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.

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