Series: Swans Landing

Book Review: Surfacing by Shana Norris

25 Mar, 2014 by in mermaids, netgalley, paranormal, shana norris, swans landing, YA fiction Leave a comment

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Surfacing by Shana Norris


by Shana Norris
Series: Swans Landing #1
Published by Shana Norris on December 19th 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 328
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley
Buy the BookGoodreads
Sixteen-year-old Mara Westray has just lost her mother, and now, being shipped off to live with the father she doesn’t know is not how she imagined grieving. She’s already counting down the days until she turns eighteen and can leave the tiny island of Swans Landing.

But from the moment she steps off the ferry, nothing is as ordinary as it looks. Whispers of a haunting song on the wind make her see impossible things, and she isn’t sure she can trust her judgment about what is real and what isn’t anymore. Maybe she can’t even trust her judgment about quiet Josh Canavan, whose way of speaking in riddles and half-truths only confuses her more, luring her deeper into the secrets hidden beneath the ocean’s surface.

As she tries to unravel the events that led to her mom fleeing the island sixteen years ago, Mara finds that the biggest secret of all is only the beginning.

Surfacing is the first book in the Swans Landing series.

I downloaded Surfacing off of Netgalley drawn by the idea of a remote seaside town, reached only via ferry and intrigued by the legend of mer people or “finfolk.” Main character Mara is thrown into a situation she is less than fond of when her mother passes away and she’s sent to live with her father who she know nothing about.All of her life she’s felt abandoned by him, and now she will have to live with him in Swan’s Landing. Form the moment she arrives in town she can tell she’s not welcome. There’s the strange woman who tells her “she’s not supposed to be here”, and a division amongst the town people– Mara seems to be right int he middle of the heated battle. Only she’s not sure why?

Why is it that no one will tell her why she is being bullied and singled out, or why there is so much tension in this new hometown?

I enjoyed the premise and legend behind Surfacing as well as the cover and the back story included on the author’s website. I also liked that the school staff, townspeople and teens take a stand against bullying. However, the voice of both Mara and her nemesis Sailor started to grate on me after a while as they were so full of attitude, anger and drama. This definitely feels YA, but the angst was a bit heavy handed for my taste. Love triangles are not my favorite either, and Mara leaves my favorite pick in the dark about what is really going on.  I liked it enough to finish and read the sneak peek of book two, but it’s probably not a book I would buy for my shelves. I did like the fleshing out of each character, enough so that I felt I knew them. I enjoyed seeing progress in the relationship between daughter and father. I also really love it when indie authors put their works on Netgalley so we can be exposed to a wide variety of YA titles. Thanks to the author and Netgalley for a chance to read it!

Content: older teen (highlight to reveal) in depth talk of sex, co ed sleepovers, swearing, bullying, violence between adult and child.


Author Bio

shana norris

I was born August 19, on my parents’ first wedding anniversary, in a small town in eastern North Carolina. I’m the oldest of four children. I’m a leo, which means I’m supposed to be bossy, interfering, and intolerant. But I’m also supposed to be broad-minded, warm-hearted, and creative, so maybe it all evens out.

I’ve always loved books. My parents would read my favorite books to me so often that I’d memorize them before I had learned how to read. Some of my favorite memories as a kid are of my mom taking my siblings and me to the public library. I’d always check out a big stack of books and then have them all read within a week. The first time I can remember writing a story that wasn’t for school, but simply because I wanted to write, was when I was eight years old. I wrote and illustrated a book called The Lonely Rectangle. It was a story about a rectangle that had been thrown in the trash and felt unloved until someone found it and took it home to use as a table. No, it was not a box or anything like that, it was just a plain rectangle. I have no clue why I decided to write about a geometric shape. It wasn’t like I was particularly fond of math or anything.

I spent my junior year of high school and part of my senior year living just outside of West Palm Beach, Florida, where my family moved to the summer I turned sixteen. I had a hard time making friends, but the good thing that came out of it was that I started to spend a lot of time online since I had no one to hang out with after school. That was when I discovered online journals written by teen girls and even started my own, which I wrote under a pen name. It was that experience with online journals in 1996-1997, the predecessor of today’s blogs, that helped inspire Something to Blog About.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to be a writer. Well, actually I wanted to be a ballerina, an archaeologist, a teacher, AND a writer, all at the same time. But after a while I figured out that I’d never taken a ballet lesson in my life, I didn’t particularly like to get dirty, and I hated being in a classroom all day, so that really only left writer as my future job. My family advised me to get a back up plan, which meant, “study something else in school that you can earn a living at while waiting for your books to sell.” So I studied graphic design, tested out of as many classes as I possibly could to avoid sitting in so many classrooms, and got my degree.

I’m still a web designer by day and write my books during my lunch hours and at night. I currently live in North Carolina with my husband and our menagerie of pets: two dogs–Chloe and Zoey–and five cats–Elmo, Bandit, Kit, BC, and Butter.

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