Monday, April 8, 2013

Early Review: Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

ChantressAuthor: Amy Butler Greenfield
Series: Chantress, #1
Release date: May 7th 2013
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Hardcover, 336 pages
Source: Publisher for review
Buy: The Book Depository

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.

Here’s what you need to know about Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield:

1. It is part one of a trilogy. Although there's nothing on GoodReads to indicate that this is a series (oh, GoodReads, how you have failed me) and the story has a nice, clean ending, Chantress is the first book in a trilogy. And thank goodness for that.

2. It is more than just a pretty cover. It’s true. These days, a pretty cover usually hides all kinds of nasty surprises, but not in this case. Chantress is a wonderful historical fantasy that will keep you glued to the pages from start to finish. The gorgeous cover art is just a bonus.

3. It is utterly absorbing. Did I mention you’ll be glued to the pages? The setting alone is enough to keep you interested, not to mention the characters. I was completely invested in this story from the very beginning.

4. The romance takes time to develop. Oh, but what a treat this was. Chantress takes place between 1667 and 1669 and many months pass before Lucy and Nat start showing interest in each other. Theirs is a wonderful, sweet romance that starts with a lot of distrust and ends in deep admiration and understanding. Plus, Nat is a real bookworm and an inventor. Perfection.

5. It is well-researched. There is an author’s note in the end that explains the setting, geography, as well as the research and reasoning behind some of Nat’s inventions. Greenfield chose to replace King Charles I with Henry Seymour, a real person and a distant claimant to the throne, whom she turned into King Henry IX for the purposes of her story. Although I honestly didn’t notice any of it (I don’t exactly have all the kings memorized), I was happy to find it all explained in the end, including the absence of the Great Fire of London, which I actually did notice.

6. The monsters aren’t all that’s scary. Oh, yes, the Shadowgrims are horrible, far scarier to Lucy than anyone else. As a Chantress, she is more susceptible to their special brand of terror, but betrayal of people close to her is far scarier. You'll constantly question every single person around her, and you'll love it. I promise.

7. The plot needed more work When I set out to write this list, I was ready to point out the good and the bad, so here it is: considering how much thought was put into worldbuilding and the main characters, the plot was somewhat of a disappointment. It was pretty straightforward when I was hoping for something more complex. Such amazing setting deserved far more twists and turns, but alas, clean and simple is what I got.

8. The villain just wasn’t frightening enough. It takes a lot of skill to write a good heroine, but sometimes, a good villain is even harder to write. With Scargrave, all the ingredients were there: immense power plus a healthy dose of cruelty and insanity usually equal a very good villain, but not this time. I never felt any real danger from him, and dealing with him was just too easy.

The moment the stone was off, the songs came to me – hundreds of them, humming like bees, flickering like firelight, 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.

Wow, this review is a bit different from what I usually write. Perhaps my friend Heidi possessed me for a day. In the end, all I can say is that Chantress turned out to be much better than I expected and I’ll be waiting eagerly to read the sequel. Oh, and I’d have that cover tattooed somewhere on my body, but I doubt it would go well with the rest of my tattoos.


  1. I read this recently actually and agree with a lot of your points. I too would have liked more from Scargrave, but I don't think this really registered until I was finished. I really liked the concept though, and adored the subtle romance between Nat and Lucy (thank god for slow and steady!). I'm looking forward to the next one, though I have no idea what could happen in it. I guess I'll just wait for the author to surprise me. :)

    Our ratings match for this one, Maja. Great review!

  2. Yay for a slow burning romance and a clean -no cliffhanger- type ending! Even more excited about the release of this book now. Love the review style, and LOL! The cover is gorgeous, isn't it? ;)

  3. I'm happy with a lot of things! I agree about the pretty cover trap. Most books with gorgeous covers are disappointing now a days, so yeah for Chantress! I love it when the romance takes time to develop and it's great when an author puts effort in their research. It's fun to read such things in the author's notes. I also didn't know that this is going to be a trilogy! It's a good thing there is a clean ending, I hate cliffhangers.


  4. HA! I like the format of this review, it's always good to switch it up a bit, so well done!

    This sounds really good but as I always say, I'm not a huge historical fan so I don't think this one would be for me. Happy to see that it is more than just a pretty cover because that is always a sad sad situation that I hate. Too bad the plot didn't have a bit more flair for your liking.

  5. I like the sound of a romance that is slow building :)

  6. I am surprised, Maja. I thought it would be much worse from what I've heard about the book :) I loved your points in this review. It was really easy to read, and now I have a clear picture of what to expect from the book!

  7. I had no idea this was part of a trilogy so I am glad you posted about it! I have been looking for reviews on this one and sadly there aren't a lot out there. I love the cover and the premises sounds really good.

    I am happy to see you liked this one!

  8. Villains are definitely the hardest to write -- the ingredients may be there but if you don't mix it right, the villain doesn't quite work. This story sounds really interesting, though!

  9. Yay for another well researched historical novel! I have this one, I will have to crack it open asap, cause I am loving the sound of it :D

  10. Maja! This sounds fantastic! Beautiful cover, brilliant set of characters, amazing world-building and wonderful romantic build-up! You just sold me to this. This will definitely go to my tbr. Thanks for sharing this great review. I'm glad you enjoyed this. :)

  11. I was so intrigued by this when it first popped up on Goodreads. Btw it now shows series info, which is awesome to know because I was under the impression is was a stand-alone; such a rare beastie. lol Anyways, love the review style and I think I'll now be adding it to my list. :)

  12. The cover is absolutely amazing. I love the colors and the books that are related to magic are always my favorite
    so I can guess that this will be my cup of tea
    Your reader,

  13. Love your review style, I'll have to give this one a try :)

  14. Ooh so much about this book sounds awesome now. And I was almost going to skip it because I had a bad feeling for some reason. Maybe the lack or reviews? So I'm glad I read this! Every point you made made me more and more interested too. I love slow moving romances and when the author takes time to do their research properly! I think this shows a lot when reading a book. I also love books where no one can be trusted. You look at every character with suspicion. I'm pretty convinced I'll really like this! Awesome review, Maja!

  15. Love the way you did this review! You had me at #3 and #4! Also, what is it with Goodreads? It has failed me more than once as well lately. Amazon take over too much? *sigh*

    Anyhoo... This sounds like a book I need. Hopefully the plot will be better worked out in the other 2 books. Still, love that it had a clean ending!

  16. I am SO glad you loved this one so much! I've been wavering on picking it up since it both sounds amazing and too cliche, but after this, I know I just HAVE to read it. It seems like the type of novel I'd love, especially with the research and romance, and although the villain and plot lags a bit, I suspect I can deal with those. Hopefully. ;) Lovely review, Maja, and I love this unique style. You just make everything work, don't you? :)

  17. I've been really anxious about this book for a while. It has such an interesting concept (reminds me almost of Crewel, actually). I'm really excited for this one, now. I LOVE that the romance took time to develop—such a different change of pace from the norm. And well-researched, too? I'm practically salivating over here. ;)

  18. Ahhhh! I could kick myself for not requesting this one on Edelweiss now Maja! It sounds AWESOME! I know just what you mean about pretty covers hiding some disappointing surprises, I just finished one like that and I'm so glad that this story is worthy of its stunning cover. Love the slow burn romance, and I'm pretty sure I'll love it enough that the plot and villain issues won't even bother me. I really like this list format Maja! I think I need to give it a try for those books where I have trouble stringing together coherent sentences:)

  19. Maja, you keep posting so many positive reviews for books I was already somewhat interested in reading, or have since become interested in reading after reading your reviews. My TBR list is suffering because of it! But I am nonetheless grateful. :) I think Chantress sounds like a fascinating debut, even more so because it's historical fantasy. I'm really liking that sub-genre, especially when the author puts in the research necessary to give it some validity. Still so long until its publication, but I definitely plan on reading it when it does release.

  20. I haven't heard of this book at all until now. And you are so right, the cover is beautiful. I like hearing it's a well researched book -- that's always important. I'm really going to have to pick this one up soon. Great and very helpful review!

  21. Ooo! I've heard of this book and the summary sounds really interesting! So glad to hear you enjoyed it, Maja. I'll be adding this to my TBR immediately. Really adore the cover too!

    Awesome review! ♥

  22. It's rare that the beautiful outside of the cover matches whats underneath, as you pointed out. Nice to see that it does here. I love the thought of a slow building romance. It makes it feel so much more solid and powerful when it happens slowly. Even with the issues you detail, this does sound like a great read. Lovely review Maja. :)

  23. I'm on a blog tour for Chantress so I am glad to hear it's a good book. I like that romance takes time to develop. Slower the better - hates the insta-love trend. And I don't mind less-scary monsters and villains, I will not be afraid of strange sounds when I read in dark past my bed-time. ;)
    Thanks for a great review!

  24. I LOVE this review :)

    Bullets are so much easier to keep up with :P (sorry I'm a little lazy today)

    NO insta love plus no scary monsters is a win for me. Will definitely check it out :)

    Krazyyme @ Young Readers

  25. This one sounds awesome. I hope the trend of historical fantasy picks up as I think there is great potential for awesome stories. I hoping the world building makes up for the lack of an unsurprising plot. I'll definitely have my eye out for this one and I won't make my decision to pick up yet another series after seeing what book 2 brings.

  26. Oh the pretty cover bait and switch gets me all too often. Glad to hear that isn’t the case here! It’s a bummer that the plot wasn’t as strong as the worldbuilding and the monsters and villain weren’t very scary, but I have to say, I’m still very excited to read this after reading your review. Perhaps the plot will pick up steam in the next two books. Love the list review! I mean your reviews are always beautifully written, but this was a very cool approach too. :-)

  27. Wow, sounds amazing. And I like a review that hits all the high points we need to know. Glad you shared that it's part of a series that isn't really told on Goodreads or anywhere. :) Thank you!

  28. I featured this as a WoW - the cover was a big part of that :) - so I'm really happy to find out that you found it absorbing, Maja. Bonus points for it being well-researched and having a slow developing romance. Looking forward to reading this now!

    P.S. I like the format of this review.

  29. You know, I've seen this cover around, but I don't think I had ever read the description or seen a review before. You've definitely made me want to read this one! The setting sounds very cool, and I LOVE romances that take time to develop.


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