It’s been a while since I reviewed a book, but the truth is I have been doing more writing than reading in the last twelve months. But I did manage to finish one. It was The Siren by Tiffany Reisz. Most of my readers will either be aware of it, or have read it.
However, do not be fooled: as well as the obvious label “erotica”, this is a multi-layered story, rich with complex, flawed characters. It is dreadfully easy to find writing on the Internet that someone, somewhere will find titillating. It is rather less easy to find fiction that is actually written well. This work is two levels above that. At least. And there may be spoilers ahead.
If you pick up this book to enjoy the sexual writing and the sexual power play, you may be surprised to find deeper topics being aired. Concerns like physical pain versus personal pain, safety and protection, even love. Reisz has depicted her characters with real, commendable depth. They know what they like and they know what they are like. Oh, how they know. And they have to: us human beings are sexual creatures, after all, and exploring one’s sexuality requires being honest with yourself. And any real exploration into what truly makes you tick is going to include a look at your sexuality. It is an irremovable part of both males and females. In my experience, most people just don’t understand that. We have so many years of puritanical influence holding this back I sometimes wonder how our society even manages to reproduce.
But The Siren goes further than that. All major characters have rich back-story and back-story that won’t stay in the background, either, adding realistic complications to today’s troubles. Nora has always been a writer of some sort, yet it has long been second fiddle to other things. And it is easy to forget that the book she is slaving over for Zach is her fifth book. Quite why this is so much more important to her is not revealed to the reader until very near the end of this volume. And the scene’s importance is easy to discount.
I found myself right alongside the characters’ as they mourned losses and missed opportunities in years gone. I also found myself moved by the some of the same agonising questions about their beliefs and life-choices that I have. Questions about faith, questions about submission and control, questions about guilt. Questions about love. And some of the choices made are very bittersweet indeed.
I can recommend to this book to a lot of different people, even those who profess to being put off by the “erotica” label. It is, in a way, somewhat ironic that it is in some of the racier fiction that we can explore what being a human being really is.