Review: Siren of Depravity by Gary Fry

Let me get this out of the way here at the outset - the first half of this novel is about as boring as can be. The second half, once the plot starts snapping into focus, makes up for the tedium and left me pretty well satisfied.

Siren of Depravity is a book about familial secrets, abuse, torture, and Lovecraftian creatures of sex and destruction. For the most part, this is pretty good stuff, and after a rather lengthy and laborious build-up, author Gary Fry manages to inject a pretty high creep factor and plenty of disquieting grotesqueness. 

My main issue comes down to one of pacing and an odd fixation on describing modern technology as if it were something new and alien to most readers. In 2016, I'd think it's pretty safe to say that the majority of readers are familiar with things like e-mail and text messaging. Rather than let readers know that central character Harry Keyes has an e-mail, our first person narrator via Fry, must always let us know that he has to open up a connection to the Internet, log into his e-mail account, and discover by way of modern technology that, lo and behold, he has an e-mail! When he receives a text, rather than simply say, "I got a text," Keyes tells us he receives a text, not an e-mail, because he would have to be logged into his e-mail account on his phone to receive an e-mail there, and since he wasn't logged in, it could not have been e-mail, and thus it was a text. I can't help but wonder if this book was written a the turn of the century when text messages were less ubiquitous than now and given a soft update for the years and character's ages. Either that, or it was an issue of Fry hitting a specific word count. This type of stuff could have been left out and quickened the pace considerably. 

As far as the book's first half goes, while dull, there's actually a lot of stuff in there that pays off tremendously in the second half. Fry must have outlined the heck out of this work, and, techie issues aside, there's a thoughtfulness to the story's execution that I respect and admire. While I trudged through a lot of those early details about Keyes and his family life demanding that Fry just get on with it already, the vast majority of it feeds into what comes later with a sort of inevitability, and it's really impressive to see all the various story threads come together in the climax. Details that initially felt small and somewhat meandering take on supreme significance and a much broader scope by book's end. 

Siren of Depravity is a book that starts off tiny and meek, but builds up a wonderful sense of dread as it progresses toward a big finish. Still, I would have liked a bit more impetus in the first half, which read a little too dry for my tastes.

Final verdict: 3 out of 5 stars

[Note: I am a member of the DarkFuse Readers Group and received an advanced copy of this title from the publisher for review via NetGalley.]

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

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