Monday, April 22, 2013

Review: Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

Amy Butler Greenfield
Series: Chantress Trilogy #1
Genre: YA Historical Fantasy
Publication date: May 7th 2013
by Margaret K. McElderry Books

Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England.

“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing—and she is swept into darkness.

When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses—women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England.

Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion…

Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.
-A copy was provided by Simon & Schuster for review-

Sadly, it's not a heart that she's holding on the cover, it's her stone necklace! Boo! Just wanted to get that out of the way first. A gorgeous cover, however--though slightly less interesting than when I thought it was a heart--Chantress is pretty on the outside, and intriguing on the inside.

We begin this book in an interesting setting while we learn how Lucy was told never to sing or bad things will occur. I was made both curious and alarmed at the uncertainty surrounding Lucy's life and lifestyle. She became a compelling character right away; I yearned to know more about her and to my impatient nature's delight the answers started arriving just as quickly. We learn early on who she is exactly, what happens when she sings, and why she should have stayed blissfully hidden and unaware. We also get to meet a lot of great personalities that become surprisingly memorable throughout the story. Even those with the smallest roles all have something that makes them stand out from one another. The lore that we get introduced to is impressive; imaginative and clearly well thought out--especially the Shadowgrims; although I wish they had a bigger part inside the book aside from a hovering threat, they were still a fascinating aspect.

While the premise is original and interesting, I found it a tad too slow for my taste. Hardly anything happens in this book at all except a flurry of events at the end that was maybe a little too easy. Even with the violence and deaths that occur I found it was over and done with as quickly as it had started, with nothing extremely heart shattering about it. It would have helped if the villain of the story was seen as a more threatening enigma, I suppose. We only meet him briefly, keeping him as nothing more than an afterthought for the reader. I feel his part in the whole thing should have been played out with much more show rather than tell to validate his wickedness. The same could be said for the Shadowgrims, as mentioned before; while we observe more of their presence than their master's, these instances are nothing more than a few close calls. Instead, most of the book is spent underground where Lucy is hiding, training to use her powers. This training is slow moving and grueling. It's good--even great--for character development to see her slowly learning and understanding her powers as a Chantress, however it does get mundane after a hundred pages of this. The one good thing to come of it aside from character development is the equally slow moving romance, which may not be anything mind-blowing, but it's sweet and realistic. It's also kept to a minimum. I would even describe it as the slow beginning of something to come.

Great, spirited characters and a unique lore is what fans of fantasy/mythology can expect to enjoy from this novel. If the plot had a little more bite to it, it would have been a truly great read, as it stands it's still a book I would recommend to those who enjoy the genre, I would just advise to not expect to be swept away into a twist riddled, exhilarating plot--because that, it is not.

3 Hot Espressos