Author: 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.