Genre: Fantasy, Steampunk, Gaslamp
LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian
About The Book
A tormented past, a demon, and a death foretold.
Evie no longer a slave, is haunted by her past. Her saviour Hesta Bethwood, who granted her freedom, wants to embark on a joint venture to set up an academy for the gifted.
During a demonstration of mesmerism, they witness a demon possession. The demon aware of their presence, seeks them out. When Evie and Hesta seek advice from a wise witch, a death is foretold. Together they must face the demon; failure will mean loss of freewill that Evie holds so dear. Can they both survive the demon encounter, or will the foretold death prevail.
This review contains spoilers for both Lost and Found and Sirens and Syphons. If you haven’t read the first book yet, and you’re interested in steampunk/fantasy, then check out my review for Lost and Found first.
Following the revelations and turns of the final chapter in Lost and Found, Sirens and Syphons begins with Evie as a properly freed woman – thanks to Godwyn Bethwood, her tormentor/teacher in the first book, and his sister, Hesta, a siren whom Evie freed from a demon’s curse.
This book is far more mystical and fantasy-driven than the first book, focusing on a demon wreaking havoc on the city. We learn more about the magic in this world and the various Gifted who walk the streets. It took me a while to work out what the plot actually was, but that isn’t a bad thing; I enjoyed the slow mystery being unravelled. Between that and the enjoyable cast interactions, Sirens and Syphons is a great improvement over the relentless misery of the first book.
Evie is understandably wary of her own freedom and the cautious alliance she has with the Bethwoods, but now freed of her shackles, she is a more confident and compelling woman. She is still damaged from her time in captivity but her growth is natural, both in personality and in power, so seeing her take control of her destiny, and standing up for herself and her autonomy, was fantastic.
I’m also a fan of the vast cast of this book. Godwyn, the anti-villain, is never fully trusted nor fully forgiven, but he’s easily one of the most interesting characters of the book, and every interaction of his with Evie was fraught with the tension of the torment of the past. I was pleased to see Evie’s friendships with Mrs Hickman and Florie continue, as much-needed support. And Hesta, our other main character, is a compelling and powerful woman who can make almost everyone she meets dance to her tune, both because of her siren’s abilities and her own intriguing nature.
Hesta and Evie have an undeniable chemistry and attraction, but this is not a racy romance – this is a slow burn of lingering touches, intense interactions and playful words. This works particularly well because of the history between the characters; Evie cannot fully trust, and so she shouldn’t, given Hesta’s role in her past slavery. Hesta is drawn to Evie, but respects Evie’s boundaries. I look forward to seeing how their relationship develops in future installments.
I wrote in my review for the first book that I expected it to be a more satisfying re-read with more books in the series, and it is with great pleasure that I can confirm this. Sirens and Syphons is an exceptionally enjoyable second book and I congratulate Round on the remarkable improvement and development of the characters, the worldbuilding, and the story. The interesting supernatural elements of this grim world are explored with more depth, the characters are permitted to flourish and grow, and Evie’s journey, now properly begun, has plenty of directions to take the readers, which makes the first book a more rewarding read with Sirens and Syphons to accompany it. I am keen to read more from Nita Round in the Evie Chester Files, and look forward to the third book.
H. L. is a Australian writer of LGBT+ fiction. She holds a Master of Arts in International Relations (2015) and a Bachelor of Media in Communications and Journalism (2012), both from the University of New South Wales.
She is a lesbian of Jewish and of Middle Eastern (Egyptian) heritage and is an #OwnVoices writer. She has been writing stories since she was old enough to hold a pen. She is the author of M/M fantasy romance novels Heart Of Dust and Soul Of Ash, Books 1 & 2 of the Death’s Embrace series.
She has had two speculative short stories published: “The Collector” in the 2014 Future Times Award Collection A Tick Tock Heart, and “Entente” in the 2020 Twisted Stories Award Collection Just Alice.