Chantress

Title: Chantress
Author: Amy Butler Greenfield
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Pages: 336
Genre: Historical/fantasy
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: 4/5

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…

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Honestly, I didn’t think I would like this book. The only real reason I requested it from Edelweiss in the first place was because it is a debut. Needless to say, I was quite surprised by how good it was.

When I was younger I really liked fantasy, but for some reason my interest in the genre has faded as I’ve gotten older. At the beginning of the year, I told myself I’d try to read some more fantasy and sci-fi novels to expand the audience for my blog, and I’ve done well on the sci-fi side of things, but this is really my first dip into fantasy.

This was the perfect book for me, a book that places music as the highest power in the world. The idea of melding music and magic really worked for me and kept my interest throughout the entire story. I found myself enjoying the historical aspects of the story, too. Historical fiction is another genre I don’t usually go for, but in this novel it only served to add more magic and drama to the story. It was sort of like an alternative history with magic mixed in, making it different from any other book I’ve read this year.

Amy Butler Greenfield is a really great writer, with a lyrical style as beautiful as I imagined the songs Lucy sings. Her writing was very pretty and fresh and perfectly fit with the story she was telling.

Greenfield also did a good job in terms of world-building. I really felt like I was on the island with Lucy at the beginning of the story, then on the dirty streets of 1660s London. A particularly striking example of this was when (very slight spoiler) Lucy and Norrie first went underground. The description of the room almost gave me a panic attack like it did Norrie.

I also liked that there was romance, but it wasn’t overwhelming or at all the main focus of the story. The main focus of the story was definitely Lucy coming into her powers. I think it was okay and certainly made sense to have the romance come to a bit more of a head at the end of the book, but it was subtle enough throughout the story to keep me guessing and intrigued without taking over the whole plot.

Amy Butler Greenfield is definitely a debut author to watch, and I’ll be very excited to hear about the sequel when it arrives.

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