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The Masked Songbird (Shrike #1)

4.10  ·  Rating Details  ·  134 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
Mildly hapless Edinburgh accountant Gwenllian Maule is surviving. Shes got a boyfriend, a rescued pet bird and a roommate to share rent. Gwens biggest challenges: stretching her last twenty bucks until payday and not antagonizing her terrifying boss.

Then Gwen mistakenly drinks a mysterious beverage that gives her heightened senses, accelerated healing powers and astonishin
Published September 2014 by Harlequin (first published 2014)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 312)
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Martin Reaves
Jul 17, 2014 Martin Reaves rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Man, what a ride. The Masked Songbird is the most fun I’ve had between the covers (book covers that is) in a good long time.

Emmie Mears’s heroine, Gwen Maule, is a fantastic character, and resonated with me as truly authentic from page one.

There’s a good deal of whimsy between these pages, but also a surprising amount of heart.

Mears is a wonderful writer. We can only wonder what she’ll do next.
Sep 23, 2014 Ali rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really excellent first novel. It took me a few chapters to get into it, but then it really hit its stride and I was gripped. I love Gwen as a heroine - she's so relatable it almost feels wrong to call her a "superhero", but she is, and she's a great one. I also love that the explanation for her superpowers wasn't just dismissed with a wave of a wand, but had a realistic explanation - with associated side effects, like constantly needing to eat.

I felt like this book could have been a bi
Feb 11, 2014 Eleni rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great read for anyone who enjoys a solid, action-packed thriller with compelling characters. The Scottish setting adds depth and credibility to this urban fantasy.

A strong effort by author Emmie Mears, the book is just the first of a hopefully long and profitable series. Readers will probably be casting the film version in their minds as they read.

I'm looking forward to Shrike #2.
Lydia Aswolf
Oct 13, 2014 Lydia Aswolf rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The scary thing about bearing heavy burdens is that at any moment the weight can shift.

Adjusting the weight on her back would never occur to Gwen. She’s carried her burdens for so long that they’re almost comfortable; a home away from home.

What Gwen forgets Mears doesn’t in this mesmerizing debut: weight shifts. The greater the weight, the farther and harder Gwen will fall. And fall she does, into a dark shaft filled with painful truths she’d rather not face. Bogged down by a vicious boss who
Dec 31, 2015 Clarice rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, 2015
I loved this book quite a bit. The debut from Emmie Mears was everything I could have hoped for. Without being spoilery, this was a fantastic trip through the origin of a woman superhero. The main character is flawed in a way that feels true, and by the end you are rooting for her to find her path and win the day. There is a romance element to the story, but it definitely plays second fiddle to the greater love story of a woman discovering herself, which is really my favorite kind of love story ...more
Daniel Swensen
Jul 14, 2014 Daniel Swensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
A modern superhero epic that hits the spot. Gwen Maule is a fantastic protagonist, and Mears does a great job of creating a realistic plight and a vivid sense of time and place. Brisk pacing and unexpected twists. Overall, a very rewarding read and I'm looking forward to seeing what's next from Gwen Maule.
Jessica Collins
I loved this book. If you like origin stories you'll love this. If you like political intrigue you'll love this. If you love birds you'll probably cry, but it's okay because vengeance will be yours in the end. Seriously. Go out and grab this one.
Sep 21, 2014 Mei-Lu rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: Emmie was my teammate during GISHWHES. So I'm not even going to pretend to be neutral about this book, but I am going to say, THANK GOODNESS IT'S GOOD! Because you know there's always that worry when you read a book by someone you know that it isn't and you won't know what to say. This book is a gritty, realistic take on a superhero story. I don't mean gritty in the Batman Begins way that has broad strokes of gloss along with the darkness of the story. There's no gloss here. Thi ...more
Sam (EvaNadine)
Jul 21, 2014 Sam (EvaNadine) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Emmie Mears has a very gentle hand with language, and her first novel, the Masked Songbird, displays her writing skills brilliantly. Timely, with its references to Scotland's referendum debate, the Masked Songbird is peppered with history, politics, and socioeconomic guideposts, yet one needn't be fluent in the topic, as Emmie walks the reader through the fine points. Meanwhile, the story is painted with the brushstrokes of a comic book master, keeping the action moving and the humor and wit off ...more
Apr 10, 2015 Jen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I truly enjoyed this story! Watching Gwen learn to use her powers was great fun. There was one part of the ending that I was a little disappointed in but as a writer myself I think the author ended it how she should have, even though it wasn't necessarily what I wanted as the reader.
Jim Sanders
Dec 27, 2014 Jim Sanders rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. An interesting urban fantasy with elements of a political thriller and a romance. The characters are sharply written and the details of the Scottish setting are vivid. Having the backdrop of the Scottish Independence referendum was very intriguing and informative. The author Emmie Mears writes with a strong voice and a lot of heart. The superhero origians story is well done, not overdone, with realistic effects for a relatable woman. I am looking forward to more in th ...more
Martin Berman-Gorvine
I greatly enjoyed the first adventures of Gwen Maule, aka The Shrike, in Emmie Mears's The Masked Songbird. I like my heroines strong yet believably human, and that is what Gwen is, with her lousy accounting job she can't afford to quit, her scummy boyfriend she can't quite bring herself to dump, and the parents she hasn't visited in two years because she can't face watching her mother waste away with dementia. I liked the fact that even when she gets superpowers, she still needs other people, l ...more
Nov 06, 2014 Shelly_lr rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this in a couple of hours. I have mixed feelings about it. So I'll just type up my impressions.

1) This is a really unusual HQ, I've never read one like it. It's more SF with a hint of romance, but there's no central romance. This is neither positive or negative to me.

2) The negatives heaped on the heroine to (IMO) stress the changes in her later were to my mind unrealistic and overblown. And I saw some but not much reaction from her. She seemed rather removed from all of it, including t
Kevin Hammond
Sep 05, 2015 Kevin Hammond rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
You know for someone who is from Scotland you can't help but get a bit nervy when you see a book set in Scotland. Sometimes it's mangled dialect. Sometimes it's odd descriptions that just don't work. Sometimes you read a book thinking ye must be huvin me oan here? But then I'm giving this five stars because there was none of that. In fact it was brilliant and I would recommend it to anyone I know

There are some nice touches that give this story a good bit of credibility. For example, arse. Can I
Jan 02, 2015 Tina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love good urban fantasy. If it tosses current political events into the mix, that's even better. The Masked Songbird tells the story of how one ordinary accountant becomes extraordinary and helps shape the future of not only her life, but her country. It certainly hits the mark for both urban fantasy and political thriller. I look forward to the next one in the series to follow the continuing adventures of the Shrike.
Sep 13, 2014 Brianna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really good book. It wasn't just about a girl becoming a superhero accidentally. It also involved friendship, romance, and self-discovery. There was action, suspense, and drama. I never got bored while reading, and in the end, I found it quite unputdownable.

Gwen was an interesting main character. She wasn't immediately likable, since she started out the story with no backbone. She let both her boss and boyfriend walk all over her. However, that all began to change. Over the course of
Sep 10, 2014 Lannister rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book came on my radar after it was mentioned by a couple of high-profile book blogs. Set in Edinburgh in the run-up to the Independence Referendum, we follow the adventures of accountant Gwen and her transformation into something of a Superwoman. As a Scot who enjoys fantasy/UF, it sounded worth a look.

Overall, I enjoyed the book but with a few minor niggles. The author has a very engaging style of writing and the plot moves along at a rapid pace. I liked Gwen's character and found myself s
Apr 13, 2015 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this! I'm not normally into superheroes, in part because, for all that they're often *meant* to be relatable as their normal selves, they almost never are. Even if they're not super-rich, they're super-hot, or male, or super-hot and male, and usually suave.

Gwen is none of these things. She's realistic and well fleshed out. She makes mistakes. She doesn't have a great relationship with her parents. She's dating a jerk, her job (read: boss) is awful, and she's often broke.

And then. AND THEN.
Rose Wraith
Sep 02, 2014 Rose Wraith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a lot of fun. It's really nice to see a lady hero, and even nicer to see one who's more concerned about kicking ass than she is about getting a boyfriend (for a change). I thought it was gonna be all fun and games but there was actually some pretty heavy stuff in here. I shed a few tears. Marvel should probably get on this...
Jul 18, 2016 Q. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE MASKED SONGBIRD by Emmie Mears is a fantastic read that sweeps you into Gwen Maule's world from the very first page and keeps you invested through the very last page. Strong writing, diverse and beautifully voiced cast, and a blast to read.
Kate Swed
Nov 03, 2014 Kate Swed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, fantasy-sf
I adored this book.

The voice. This voice is everything I want from first person. Gwen is fun to hang around with, and you never quite know what she’ll do next–which is why it’s totally believable that she’d suck down an open beverage when she finds herself in desperate need of one (no spoilers here!).

The story is rigorously true to its own internal logic, and to Gwen’s character. I know her well, so I believe in her choices. She may be hapless from the beginning, as the blurb tells us, but it’s
Feb 21, 2016 Agentrusco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own, favorites
This book has everything you can dream up for the genre: super heroes (or heroines, as the case may be), mysteries, science experiments gone awry, Scottish accents, silly banter, costumes, fight scenes, political intrigue, love, loss and plenty more.

I was caught up in the fast pace of the book; feeling with the characters and trying desperately to solve the mysteries. Many of the issues are very serious, but they are often approached in a lighthearted way. This does not diminish the issues, onl
James Callaghan
Nov 26, 2014 James Callaghan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a fun story and a great addition to the swelling ranks of unique and somewhat unconventional superheroes. But what really stood out for me as an American reader was the refreshing voice of a Scottish writer, her characters and the location. It makes a wonderful change of pace to read something that doesn't happen to New Yorkers, Angelenos or Londoners.
Jun 07, 2015 K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the answer is Yes. Read this book.

Well written, thought provoking. Uncomfortable at times and then triumphant. Fantastical as well. I found myself reading until the wee hours without noticing, it's been a long time since that happened. I will definitely be reading the next installment. Thanks for writing, Emmie Mears. Please continue.
Peter Sursi
Jan 01, 2015 Peter Sursi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-book
I really enjoyed the urban fantasy set against the backdrop of the recent Scottish referendum. n interesting choice, but i love the interplay of both Scotland and the protagonist trying t figure out their own future together.
Dec 15, 2014 Angie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic superhero tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat! Emmie Mears is an amazing writer who has a knack for creating strong female characters. Well worth the read!
This was 100% fun. I'm a sucker for superhero fiction. Slap some masks and some superpowers onto a book and I will read it, no questions asked. So when a friend recommended this to me, I knew I had to pick it up.

Was this the best superhero book ever? Nope. Did I love every second of it? YOU BET.

This was so much fun. The characters were likeable, the plot moved along at a fast clip, and it was at the perfect level of cheesiness. The ending was a good and satisfying, though not perfectly happy.

Feb 24, 2015 Charity rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: purchased, ebook
Fun, witty writing - will look for more from this author.
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Emmie Mears is an author, actor, and person of fannish pursuits. She speaks four languages and holds a degree in history, which means she can tell you her anteater is sick in German and rattle off Polish tongue twisters. Emmie is proudly queer, has a rather intricate gender identity, and is quite happy to be pronouned as she/her or they. Emmie is the author of five adult novels and is open to brib ...more
More about Emmie Mears...

Other Books in the Series

Shrike (2 books)
  • Rampant (Shrike, #2)

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