Author: Amy Butler Greenfield
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Released:7th May 2013
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Lucy has been told never to sing, for if she does, nothing good will come of it. But when she hears a song on the wind, she cannot help but sing it herself, and this leads to her finding herself in London. She stumbles upon members of the Invisible College, a group dedicated to overthrowing Scargrave, the Lord Protector whose power has all of London terrified. The only one strong enough to defeat him is Lucy, who is thought to be the last Chantress - at least, the only one with her powers still intact. It is not easy, however, as she has spent her whole life in the dark; she needs to learn and to train in order to fully understand her powers. The question is if she can do this before time runs out.
The plot in Chantress is uncomplicated and, while not much appears to happen, at least not for a great deal of the book, I still thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and the ideas that Greenfield has created here. The world in which this is set was well-thought out, and the backdrop of seventeenth century England fitted the story perfectly. There is indeed something magical about just the thought of this setting, even without the fantasy elements - for me, anyway. I was content to read at the pace Greenfield set, her writing too compelling for me to lose interest. I was admittedly somewhat disappointed at the Shadowgrims. They are meant to be creatures that evoke the deepest fear, yet they barely have a physical presence within the book. All that I heard, and the little that we see of them, was not enough for me to find them at all disturbing. Still, the concept was an intriguing one, and I very much commend Greenfield for the wonderful ideas that you come across in reading this novel.
Lucy was a likeable character, one I sympathised with when she discovered just how much about herself and her life had been witheld from her. Despite one or two issues at the beginning, she does grow a lot throughout the book, and I really liked seeing her gain that confidence within herself and making choices that showed her to be strong of character. Nat was a character particularly easy to appreciate, and it was nice to see his growth, too. One magical, one scientific, both of them fit together brilliantly. One of the things I truly enjoyed about their romance was how slow it was. It has only a slight presence, and it takes a while just to start at all, but it was enough to complement the plot and was really very expertly written. Not only that, but there was no drama that arises from a love triangle; this was a relationship about the two of them alone, and that made it all the more compelling to read about.
Aside from a couple of issues, this was a really enjoyable novel. I loved the historical setting and getting to know all about Chantresses, with music as a real focal point. It's clear that the author knows her characters and her world, and her writing alone is enough to make you want to continue reading. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing a sequel.
The wind howled at the cracks in the window, making the candle dance. My mother's letter fluttered in my hand, and I thought I caught the whisper of a tune.
This is it. This is your chance to go home. Be bold, and take it.
I grasped the chain and pulled it over my head.
The moment the stone was off, the songs came for me - hundreds of them, humming like bees, flickering like fireflight, crossing like shadows. And the strongest one was the wild tune I'd heard in the garden. This time, however, it went on and on. It spoke of the sea and of home and of times long past. It tugged at my heart and my throat and my lips. Sing me, it said.
And I did.
I had no idea what the words were, or what phrase came next. But I did not care. A dizzying sense of freedom flooded over me. All I wanted to do was give voice to the notes that came to me, one after another, in an endless stream of sound. We climbed together, strong and sure, rising ever higher. I felt as if I were flying.
Sing and the darkness will find you.
Norrie's warning rang out in my mind. But it seemed to come from somewhere far away, somewhere very much farther than the music itself.
I hardly even noticed when Norrie herself banged the door open. With a horrified cry, she bounded forward and clutched my wrist, the net of seaweed dripping in her hand.
But already the wind was rising. It swirled through the room, midnight black, and caught us both in its grasp. As the candle went out, the song rose to a shriek, and everything around us vanished.
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