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Sirens by Janet Fox

It’s 1925, and Jo Winters is a modern girl, but not in the same way as all those flappers. No, she wants to finish up high school, maybe go to college, and get a job. But her father has different ideas for her, and she doesn’t have much of a choice when he sends her off to Manhattan to find a husband. But as soon as she arrives, Jo starts to suspect that’s there’s more to the story than her future marriage. Too many people are asking her questions, particularly about her beloved older brother Teddy—questions that she can’t or won’t answer. Teddy trusted her, and she can’t betray that, no matter how alluring a new life as one of Manhattan’s elite could be. But, whether she knows it or not, Jo has been ensnared in a grander scheme of the most powerful man in town. Forced into the glamorously dangerous world of New York’s gangsters and their molls, will Jo be able to save herself?

I am definitely a huge fan of the flapper era, particularly its danger and decadence, which is why I was drawn to Sirens. Unfortunately, there was something about this world that failed to draw me in; while I certainly got the sense of the magic of New York City in the 20s, at the same time I felt distanced from it, perhaps because Jo is somewhat resistant of some of the attitudes of the time. This is certainly a different type of 20s story, despite having its fair share of the glitz, and that maintained my interest, though only up to a certain point. The plot has a good mixture of mystery, romance, and Jo’s more personal quest to find a place in her world, but ultimately, I just wasn’t very engaged in what was happening. Part of this had to do with the awkwardly paced released of information regarding Jo’s brother Teddy and the fact that some details were just too overwritten, but more than that, Jo’s character was just not sufficiently emotionally developed to make me truly care about her story.

Though I failed to really connect with this story, Sirens will still be enjoyed by fans of Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen and The Girl Is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines.

Rating: 3.5

Review copy from publisher Penguin

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