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.
Amy Butler Greenfield was a grad student in history when she gave into temptation and became a writer. Since then, she has become an award-winning author.
Amy grew up in the Adirondack Mountains and later studied history at Williams College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Oxford. She now lives with her family in England, where she writes, bakes double-dark-chocolate cake, and plots mischief.
Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield Book One of the Chantress trilogy Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication Date: May 7, 2013 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
I was pleasantly surprised when I finished this book and realized that I really liked it! The books that I read before this one were not so good, so reading this book seemed like a breath of fresh air. I loved the originality of this book, the fantasy elements, and the historical setting. You all know how much I LOVE historical fiction novels (especially historical romance novels!), so I had a feeling I would at least enjoy this book. But, I loved it!
I just loved the idea of a "chantress"! A chantress is kind of like a siren, with power in the voice, and a chantress sings and harnesses the power of magic. Lucy is a chantress, and after she escapes the island that she has been living on for many years, she finds herself in England. There, she meets Nat and the rest of the Invisible College, and slowly develops her powers, with the help of her newly discovered godmother.
Lucy's history is quite intriguing. Her mother's life and Lucy's childhood is revealed gradually, through her tight-lipped godmother. The story of the chantresses is very sad but intriguing as well. Lucy's godmother has her own interesting past, but it is a tragic past. Lucy's godmother holds tight reins on Lucy, but only because she knows her own past, and doesn't want Lucy to get hurt. Among other reasons.
The fantasy of this book was so amazing. I loved the world-building and how well the author creates this historical England setting. Historical settings are not easy to procure, but this author clearly did her research. I've read many historical romance novels set about this time period, and the authenticity of the setting is obvious to me.
I loved the characters of this book! And the characterization is so nice! Lucy is a great protagonist to follow. This book is in a historical society, yet Lucy still seems to project herself as a female and a chantress. I love the development she undergoes, especially with the ending considered!
And Nat. Oh, Nat. He's definitely one of my favorite characters, if not, my favorite. I wish there could have been more scenes with him, and him and Lucy interacting. He is definitely a lovable love interest, but he doesn't take control or take command of many situations. I'm saying he's wimpy; he just doesn't get the opportunity very often. So, he doesn't always get to prove himself as the hero/male protagonist of the story. But whatever. I really liked him. He's calm and sweet and lovable!
And guess what? No love triangle! Or messy love thing! YAY!
The ending ripped my heart out. I knew something had to be sacrificed (as something always is, when you get to the climax of the book), but this was really big. I suppose it gives me something to look forward to in the next book - how Lucy deals with said large event.
What I Did Not Like:
I just went through all of those awesome things that I really liked about this book, but despite all of that, there was something that always bugged me: the predictability. Up until the very end of the book, the overall, general structure of the plot was predictable. Once we get a layout of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, everything was pretty foreseeable from there.
And then there was the romance. You say, but Alyssa, you LOVED Nat, and there is NO love triangle, so what's the problem? But see, there are not that many interactions between Lucy and Nat, as I mentioned above. And the interactions that we do get don't lead us toward chemistry or any sort of feelings for each other, though we do see them develop in both characters.
Maybe I just wanted more from the romance. I'm hoping that happens in the next book.
Would I Recommend It:
YES! Totally! I really enjoyed this book - especially since it's a mix of my two favorite genres, historical fiction, and fantasy. Run and grab it now!
4 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, despite its predictability, and I have confidence that you will, too!
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, as well as the absence of the Great Fire of London. 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. 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 the 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.
Once upon a time, there was a boy who read a book. He really liked it, although if pressed, he couldn’t really explain why, because the book was kind of straightforward and full of exposition. Unfortunately, the boy had a friend who was a girl who kept him on a short leash, and for whatever reason his friend was exceptionally curious about the book that he couldn’t really explain, and continually harangued him for his opinion, even though she most likely would never read the book herself.
Finally exasperated, the boy threw up his hands in surrender and jotted down a few notes. ‘Honestly,’ he said to himself, ‘I don’t know why I like this book as much as I do. Only two things really stand out about it, the cover, and a warning: Sing, and the darkness with find you. That’s it! Otherwise, the plot’s interesting but nothing special, the characters decent but not exceptional, and there really is too much exposition. Nice warning, though.’ Then, he muttered under his breath, more excuse than explanation, ‘I just really like it, ok? And not because she’s holding a tongue or something on the cover.’
The boy though, like the Nat character from the story, was trained as an engineer, and his need to rationalize everything left him deeply unsatisfied with his answer. So he went back to the book, looking for more: ‘Was it the brisk pacing that I liked so much?’ he asked himself, ‘or that despite pages of dialogue explaining back story and key events there wasn’t an annoying conspiracy keeping Lucy in the dark for her own good?’ He shrugged to himself, as if that was the answer ‘yeah, it’s refreshing for everyone to be so forward with Lucy. Twenty chapter intentional conspiracies do not a good book make.’
Moving on, the boy picked out other things here and there. ‘Wow, two young guys and no love triangle in sight. Are my eyes deceiving me?’ Or, ‘what an idea for creepy birds (even though they don’t do much of anything).’ And later, ‘pretty good concept of magic, not just through music and song, but balancing the safety of tried and true Proven Magic with the deceptive allure of Wild Magic. And it’s not like one type’s intentionally written as right and the other denounced as wrong; I can totally see where both sides are coming from and how it plays into the traditional hero(ine) versus villain plot. For a book about magic, Amy Butler Greenfield definitely knows what she’s doing.’
Reaching the end once more, the boy frowned as he looked down at his notes. ‘Still,’ he sighed, ‘much of the plot involves hiding in shadows. Maybe nothing really bothered me because mostly nothing really happened?’ His frown deepened as an idea nagged at the corner of his mind, how the book could've been much better if more had just happened, and it was at that moment that he realized he was no closer to explaining why he enjoyed Chantress than he was before the fruitless exercise, and resolved to do better for the next book.
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.
-- An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.
The Lord Protector has done his best to eliminate Chantresses, the women who sing magic, because only a Chantress can destroy him. Lucy has been hidden away on an island by her mother, who then disappeared, but one night she hears music, and sings a reply--which almost drops her straight into the Lord Protector's hands. Now she must hide with the teachers of the Invisible College, learning a lifetime's worth of spells, as the Lord Protector searches all London for her.
This is a riveting read. Lucy can barely keep ahead of her enemies, and not everyone who claims to be a friend is. Energetic Nate could be a friend, but he doesn't trust Chantresses. And every corner of London holds peril for a girl who has never lived with more than one other person in her life.
I guess I can safely say that historical fiction is no longer out of my comfort zone now. From the growing number that I've read, I've loved all of them, save for one which fell in the "meh" category. Chantress could very well have fallen in that category too, but while some people could find the story slow-moving and even boring, because it's a character-based storyline, I found the book to be very entertaining.
I liked the characters a lot, and I also liked the romance—or rather, the lack thereof. Like really, Lucy and Nat don't even kiss until the very last page. Nat in the beginning was being kind of a dickhead, and what I liked was that Lucy knew that too. She also didn't care that Nat disliked her and the fact that she can do magic. Most heroines usually mope about the fact that their love interest dislikes them so much, because at that point they would be head-over-heels for them already. But Lucy was just like, "Oh, he doesn't like me? Okay then, that's fine. That's on him." And that's it. So I had to give her extra points for that.
As far as the whole Chantress thing goes, I really liked that too. They can do magic by learning specific songs and singing them in a very precise way. Most of the book is spent with Lucy training to be a more powerful Chantress and needing to destroy a certain book that's quite powerful as well.
And then there are the Shadowgrims, which really creeped me out, even if they didn't really appear that much in the book. But just the way people spoke about them gave me chills. I'm not sure they'd be present in the sequel much—that might be a slight spoiler—but who knows what the author has up her sleeve. I genuinely would want to see more of them.
One thing that I can say about the book is negative—and even this is extremely nitpicky—is the editing, I guess. The chapters constantly end during conversations and then continue right where it left off in the next chapter. I personally didn't find that necessary, and I'm not quite sure why it got on my nerves but it did lol. But again, that's a very nitpicky thing that doesn't really matter, and a lot of you probably didn't even notice until now.
The reason I gave this a four star rating is because . . . it just feels like a four star book to me. It didn't blow me away, but it was enjoyable. If you're a fan of somewhat unique paranormal books that are more character-based instead of action-y, I think you'd like this. That's . . . all I can say, really. xD Sorry if this review was sort of brief.
My Reaction: While many of the concepts and settings were interesting, I found the overall execution in this book to be bland and lacking. The characters were dull, the plot straight-forward, and the set up entirely too convenient. While not a technically bad offering, it still lacks the daring and creativity to do anything truly impressive. It also hit a few of the common problems in stories about female-only magic, which I’ll cover below in “Rants and Raves.”
Highlights: • The system of singing for magic and the descriptions of Wild Magic vs Proven Magic were very nice. It was an interesting concept and fun to play around with. I also enjoyed the idea of the limits on the magic, even though Lucy is *ahem* conveniently freed from such limits. But it’s a fun idea to think about. • The Shadowgrims made for an interesting opposition, and the descriptions of their effects were well done. However, like most of the book, they weren’t used to their full potential. • The characters were all…average. There’s nothing bad to say about them, except to damn them with faint praise. None of them really stood out for me as being particularly…anything. Even the bad guy was just there. • The romance was downplayed and not a driving part of the book, but still had a presence, which I liked. • The plot involved a lot of telling. People told Lucy about her magic, people told Lucy about the situation, people told Lucy about Scargrave’s evilitude. It was a narrative sort of telling rather than a writing sort of telling, but no less irritating. • The bad guy’s name is “Scargrave.” It’s one step up from naming him “Lord I Am The Villain.” • Much of the initial set-up was very…convenient. Lucy just happened to show up in time to eavesdrop on plot-relevant stuff, she just happened to hide out in the right person’s house, they just happened to be the leaders of the underground rebellion, they just happened to know everything that needs to be known. Lucy showed up, and the plot was already laid out for her, without her having to do anything except sit quietly and do as told. • In fact, that’s pretty much the whole book. Lucy shows up and does what she’s told. Everything’s already arranged and figured out, so all she has to do is listen to the story, practice her magic a bit, and then defeat the bad guy at the end. Though the story was very interesting, receiving it third-hand was less than impressive.
Rants and Raves This book has two major things that have always bothered me in books: female-only magic that has no cultural effect, and women-in-power being shown as inherently evil.
In this book, Chantresses are all women, and they can do great feats of magic. Well, they used to could. Now they can do small-to-medium feats of magic. But still, they can do MAGIC. Real magic. And what effect does this have on women’s rights?
Jack all nothing.
At least, one assumes so. We don’t really get to see much of the setting in this book, as Lucy spends a large chunk of it hiding in a basement. (Riveting stuff, that.) But the bits we do see, such as Helaine’s assertion that Chantresses would keep their talents hidden from husbands even before they were outlawed, suggest that not much has changed.
Basically what this book is saying is that culture looked at women, said “get in the kitchen, don’t vote, don’t participate in government, don’t own property, and be subjected to the orders of your husbands” and these Chantresses went “okay.” Why? Why would anyone say that to a woman who can literally split your head in two by singing? Why would a woman with that power go along with it?
There’s a lot of things that went into making our patriarchal society patriarchal, but I’m pretty sure that if women have been doing magic since the beginning of history, and if men haven’t, that would have some sort of effect. Leaving it that way gives all sorts of nasty implications, like “even with magic at hand, women are still the weaker sex” and “this is totally just the natural order of things, not something that came about for actual reasons that can be changed.”
And of course, there’s Lady Helaine.
People can we please get over this idea that it’s somehow horrifying to be a female and have lots of power? Can we give up on the idea that absolute power corrupts vaginas absolutely? Boys have at least a 50/50 chance of being good kings, but it seems like girls can only be good if they fight the good fight and then get out of the way.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
A hypnotic and alluring read, that delivers magic, corruption, rebellion, a kingdom in turmoil, an evil dictator, and the fight for survival that could possibly end it all for the better or worse...
The CHANTRESS was an enticing blend of fantasy and historical fiction, that intertwined magic with a splash of romance to keep the reader reading well into the night. I was instantly hooked from the very first page. And I was VERY surprised of how much I liked the CHANTRESS, as I was always reluctant to read it for numerous reasons. And I've never really been too intrigued by the plot description from the synopsis either. But fortunately as my love for the fantasy genre grew, so did my open mind for other fantasy books I've always shunned in the past and was reluctant to read. But the CHANTRESS has proved me wrong even with it's minor flaws.
The first small issue I had with the CHANTRESS was the pacing of the plot. It was VERY slow paced, and felt like it was taking baby steps to progress at some points. The plot was interesting, but the paced it moved threw me off a bit. I would of liked a faster plot, and it definitely could of benefited with an increase of action and adventure. Though it did have it's fair share of adventure, it needed, in my opinion more action.
The other issue I had with the CHANTRESS was the romance. Now don't get me wrong, I liked that it was slow burning and not rushed at all. But it was too slow, and barely even any romance at all, at least not until the last chapter or so. And even then, it wasn't even really there either. But I did think that Lucy and her "kinda" love interest Nat made a cute couple, and I really hope we get more from their relationship in the next book, CHANTRESS ALCHEMY.
But slow pace and lack of romance aside, I really enjoyed the foundation of this world and the things that did happen, even with the lack of suspense. The characters, especially Lucy, Nat, and Nat's adopted father figure Penebrygg were awesome characters and had such a strong voice that it would be nearly impossible not to like them. Even though none of them were the "normal" type of characters I usually read. I still enjoyed their voices and character traits, and the fleshed out development that Butler instilled in her wonderful cast of characters that I just loved to pieces.
"Sing, and the darkness will find you."
Lucy has lost everything because of one man, now it's time to awaken the power pulsing inside, and save London from the monsters unleashed to devourer it from the inside out...
Shipwrecked on a island since she was eight-years-old, Lucy remembers very little of her life before then. She knows that her mother was lost at sea when they boarded that dreadful ship that deserted them to this abandoned island they now call home. Only other person she's seen since that shipwreck seven-long-years-ago, is her mother-like nurse Norrie that has kept her alive all these lonely years. But Lucy yearns to be free, to return to her hometown of London where her memories hide. But with no hope of rescue, Lucy and her nurse are destine to remain on that island for the rest of their days. Until the darkness she's been warned about finds her. And she's swept into a tornado of wind that tosses her in the very place she desired most, London. But right in the middle of grave danger...
Back in London and more alone then she's ever been, Lucy finds the hard way that the kingdom has fallen into vengeful hands. Crowned to a boy-king in name only, but ruled by Scargrave and his vile creatures the Shadowgrims that are capable of tearing a man apart from the inside out, stripping him of all sense of sanity and humanity, and making him into a walking talking Shadowgrim lackey, only breathing to do their bidding...
But that's not all Lucy discovers on her journey back to her hometown of London. It's revealed that she is a Chantress, and the very last one of her kind after Scargrave and his creatures the Shadowgrims, the only thing capable of defeating a Chantress hunted down every last one of them, and killed them all. Being the last Chantress, and an untrained one at that, Lucy is playing with fire, and is bound to get burned...
But then Lucy stumbles upon members of a rebellion, working from the shadows to find ways with their intelligence to outwit Scargrave and his creature army. But now with a Chantress walking right into their needing hands, they may have just found the ultimate weapon to defeat them once and for all...
Lucy will have to discover her true self and what it truly means to be a Chantress to stop the evil threatening to tear London apart. Being the only one strong enough to even stand a chance against Scargrave and his pet Shadowgrims, Lucy must learn as much as she can about herself and the power she possess within if she's going to have any chance of standing against them and prevailing once and for all.
The CHANTRESS was a GREAT start to an amazing series that I absolutely adored! I plan to binge read book two and three as soon as possible. Because I'm dying to know what Lucy and her little gang will endure next. And the limits to which Lucy will be tested to achieve whatever new threat awaits her at the end of this epic trilogy that I know will NOT disappoint.
Overall, the CHANTRESS was more then I anticipated, and though it was very slow paced, and I wanted a little bit more from the romance, I still found myself easily engrossed in the story and characters no matter it's flaws. And I am so happy I decided to give this book it's fair shot, and I'm eagerly anticipating continuing this series and the next journey it brings!! If you like magical worlds with VERY slow burning romance, a kingdom on the verge of self destruction, with evil lurking from the sky and around the corner, then CHANTRESS is one read you DON'T want to miss!!
NOTE: I received a physical ARC from Simon & Schuster for reviewing purposes! All opinions express are my own and are not influenced in any way!
That's what Lucy was raised believing. Stranded on an island since she was eight years old with her elder sort-of maid, Norrie, that's all she knew. Past her fifteenth birthday all she knew was solitude, Norrie's cooking, and the island. She had no memories of her mother and the shipwreck that supposedly landed them on the island. But all she knew was that she was to never take off her necklace and that she was to never sing. However, on All-Hollows Eve she discovered a letter that Norrie kept hidden from her written to her by her mother and in her swirl of emotions she removes her necklace and hears a song in the wind. When the song gets stronger with the removal of her necklace, she can't help but sing the song that bubbles up in her in response. And soon her and Norrie are transported back to her birthplace in London, England via unknown magic and the wind.
It's safe to say the plot line was very interesting and the beginning easily caught my attention. The plot was great, really great. But, unfortunately, it was slow at times. With the concept of an evil lord who controlled the young King Henry the 9th and inspired fear and terror in all of London using his Shadowgrims, Greenfield definitely earned some bonus points. I loved these demented raven birds and their ability to make others physically quake from their presence and then their ability to steal their memories by brushing their feathers against their victims skin. Demented and scary, I'd never want such a creature to become a reality. But in a book, I loved them.
However, with all of that being said, this book was incredibly slow to me. With such an awesome sounding plot Greenfield could have thrown in some really amazing action sequences. And while she threw in a few in the end, they seemed too easy to overcome after a large percentage of the book was spent with Lucy learning how to be a better Chantress. Yes, she learned, but she went to attempt to save all of London much earlier than originally planned, so there should have been more obstacles in her path, you know? I felt like the process was a little too smooth. Though not entirely smooth, it was more butter than mild peanut butter. I have no other way to describe it. I wish the plot was faster. I think another aspect of the plot that hurt it was that it had many info-dumps. I understand she didn't know much about her Chantress roots, but it was all revealed in huge info-dumps. I wish that went slightly smoother as well.
With that being said, I want to touch upon the romance. While overall existent, it wasn't a huge plot point. And I have to say I didn't like that for once. It was a little too in the background and while it was a very sweet point at the end of the novel and watching the distrust eventually disappear between Lucy and Nat was great, I wish there was more. I think it could have made the slow points in this novel progress faster.
Overall, I recommend this to people looking for a truly unique read. However, this is more for people looking for a novel that is laid-back as opposed to packed with action. I am beyond curious to see what Greenfield has in store for in regards to book two because book one was so amazingly creative and imaginative. I will definitely be on the lookout for her future novels as I eagerly await what else she has in store for us.
This review and a giveaway can also be found on my blog.
Lucy has been told never to sing, for if she does, nothing good will come of it. But when she hears a song on the wind, she cannot help but sing it herself, and this leads to her finding herself in London. She stumbles upon members of the Invisible College, a group dedicated to overthrowing Scargrave, the Lord Protector whose power has all of London terrified. The only one strong enough to defeat him is Lucy, who is thought to be the last Chantress - at least, the only one with her powers still intact. It is not easy, however, as she has spent her whole life in the dark; she needs to learn and to train in order to fully understand her powers. The question is if she can do this before time runs out.
The plot in Chantress is uncomplicated and, while not much appears to happen, at least not for a great deal of the book, I still thoroughly enjoyed the writing style and the ideas that Greenfield has created here. The world in which this is set was well-thought out, and the backdrop of seventeenth century England fitted the story perfectly. There is indeed something magical about just the thought of this setting, even without the fantasy elements - for me, anyway. I was content to read at the pace Greenfield set, her writing too compelling for me to lose interest. I was admittedly somewhat disappointed at the Shadowgrims. They are meant to be creatures that evoke the deepest fear, yet they barely have a physical presence within the book. All that I heard, and the little that we see of them, was not enough for me to find them at all disturbing. Still, the concept was an intriguing one, and I very much commend Greenfield for the wonderful ideas that you come across in reading this novel.
Lucy was a likeable character, one I sympathised with when she discovered just how much about herself and her life had been witheld from her. Despite one or two issues at the beginning, she does grow a lot throughout the book, and I really liked seeing her gain that confidence within herself and making choices that showed her to be strong of character. Nat was a character particularly easy to appreciate, and it was nice to see his growth, too. One magical, one scientific, both of them fit together brilliantly. One of the things I truly enjoyed about their romance was how slow it was. It has only a slight presence, and it takes a while just to start at all, but it was enough to complement the plot and was really very expertly written. Not only that, but there was no drama that arises from a love triangle; this was a relationship about the two of them alone, and that made it all the more compelling to read about.
Aside from a couple of issues, this was a really enjoyable novel. I loved the historical setting and getting to know all about Chantresses, with music as a real focal point. It's clear that the author knows her characters and her world, and her writing alone is enough to make you want to continue reading. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing a sequel.
I have to admit that the first time I came across this cover at a Barnes and Noble I was immediately drawn in to the gorgeous cover. My friend Amber liked it so much that she immediately purchased it. After reading it she told me how much she adored it and that she was dying for the sequel. Fast forward a year and when I noticed on Edelweiss that the sequel was coming out I immediately texted and her and asked her if I could borrow her book. Patri had been contacting authors to participate in our FFBC events and little did I know that she had contacted Amy Butler Greenfield until she had contacted us back giving us the green light to host the sequel to Chantress. I was already over the moon with excitement, and to put the cherry on top, her amazing publicist over at Simon Schuster actually said she would mail us a copy of the 1st book.
I picked up Chantress early last week and was immediately entranced by the story. As the synopsis above states, the story is about a 15 year old girl Lucy who had been shipwrecked on an island with her guardian Norrie. Lucy has no memory for the shipwreck, all she know is what Norrie has told her. She has a longing to go back home to England and a longing for her mother. When she uncovers a secret letter from her mother that Norrie has hidden from her she is outraged. Some of the letter I blotched, but she can make of it she finds out that she is a Chantress. What that means or what entails she's not quite sure. Suddenly she hears a song that calls out to her and she starts singing, even though she has been cautioned from Norrie against singing. The song engulfs her and pulls her a dark space and when she comes to she is actually in a library She's not quite sure where she is and before she gets a chance to get her bearings two 3 men come into the room an their conversation is basically about how all Chantresses should be found and killed. Luckily she is able to hide behind the curtain and is able to not be detected by the men who want to kill her. As she is trying to figure out a way how to get out of the house, she spots another man run in and steal a book and sneak into a secret door She follows him until he arrives home.
There she is discovered and Lucy is scared that these men might want to kill her too But instead they have the complete opposite goal in mind. They want to protect Lucy and in fact, they need her. The kingdom is in trouble and she might the only person who can save them!
So much more happens in this book, but I wanted to leave it out of the synopsis because I want all of you to go out and get it and discover it on your own. At first I was kind of confuse with what exactly a Chantress was. And I almost feel like we were meant to be confused, because Lucy herself was not aware that she was a Chantress and frankly there was no one there to instruct her quite yet. It so touching to see how Lucy deals with this new discovery. She wants to help them, but a) doesn't know exactly how to come across her powers and b) frankly doesn't know if she can trust them. In my opinion I found Lucy to be brave and strong. She has no one to confide in and her one confidante Norrie is missing.
The thing I like most about this book, was the slow sweet pace. As the reader we discover all of Lucy's abilities at he same time she is discovering them! Don't get me wrong just because the pacing is slow does not mean that the plot was lacking. There was A LOT going on. Tons of new characters and plenty of obstacles that occurred. But the author allowed you to grasp each thing as it comes and completely absorb and digest it before another twist comes in. This way you always know everything that is occurring and are not going back and forth trying to figure the plot out.
I also liked the slow forming relationship between Nate and Lucy. Frankly at first they both don't even know if they trust one another, but they must put their differences aside to accomplish the goal in hand.
All in all I really enjoyed this story. The pacing was beautiful, the plot was action packed and the characters were fun and real. I was so invested in this story that just after finishing it. I flew straight to book 2!
3.5 stars Amy Butler Greenfield unleashes a unique and fresh tale of a supernatural element sure to mesmerize many readers.
Lucy lives on an island with her guardian Norrie, whom survived a ship wreak. Norrie had that was set above all others: There must be no singing. Ever. The next rule was to wear her necklace and to not take it off. Pretty simple, right? Not for Lucie. Once she pulls the pendant over her head, music floats in the air, calling her to sing. Against her guardians warning and wishes, Lucie and Norrie were swept away back to London and seperated from one another.
Lucie escapes a mysterious Ravendon House. Creepy things fly in the air, and Watchers guard the city. Lucy learns what she is and that her kind is hunted and almost extinct. She meets a group of scholarly types who need her help to overthrow the evil Scaregrave, and end the power he has over the nasty Shadowgrims. Not only does he hold a sort of power over them, he holds some over the young King as well. In doing so, she must learn to work pure magic and not the dark magic that calls to her.
I loved the premise of this book and was fascinated with the Chantress theme. The story started off a bit slow in my opinion, but I was intrigued enough to see where the story was going. There was a particular area in the story that slowed the pace down, which was where she was learning magic. I liked Lucie enough. She was a curious teen who had a rebelious streak. She proved to be a strong character and dedicated to the cause. She meets Nat and Penebrygg, who she trusted and who introduced her to their secret group. I really liked Penebrygg. He wasn't quick to judge and was open minded. He really reminded me of a sweet ol' grandpa. Nat...he came off a bit cantankerous. I thought he had a chip on his shoulder and wasn't quite fair to Lucie, therefore, I wasn't a fan. But....there's a but. By the end of the story my feeling changed and we got to see a little more of who he truly was and why. I would have liked to learn more about him though.
I do wish that there had been more chemistry and a stronger connection between Lucie and Nat. I was a little disappointed that there wasn't more. I felt there were many opportunities to amp up the chemistry. and earlier on. I was satisfied with the way things ended though.
This wasn't a fast paced story, but provided enough to keep those pages turning. There is one piece to this story that really touched me. There is a note Lucie finds from her mother. Let me just say that the ending was my favorite part. Not because it was at an end, but because of what transpires. I admit, I got a little emotional. It was a beautiful and perfect way to end the story.
With a sentence like that on the cover I was totally prepared to read an awesome book with some cool action and a kick-ass heroine. But... I expected to much because, although I liked it quite a bit, I still feel like it let me down. And I would've liked to know that the story takes place a few centuries ago. Between 1667 and 1669. Maybe that sounds stupid, but I like that kind of information beforehand. Not that it matters a lot in what time the story takes place, it's just a detail that's important to me.
First of all, I liked the characters in this story. Lucy and every other character in it matter. How small their part may be, they're all important and I like that. So many books have characters that don't really help the story and are unnecessary, this one didn't. So that's a good thing. I wanted to see a little more from the villain though... We meet him once in the entire book and I can't even remember his name right now... He didn't really leave a big impression on me. The Shadowgrims are cool but they also don't play a big role yet. Maybe we'll get to see more of the bad guys in the sequel? Let's hope so!
The story is well thought out. I do believe the author really took some time to work it all out, so that is good. But although it's interesting and quite original, is so slow. I would've liked to see more action, instead most of the book lucy is underground, hiding and training. Love the character developement we get from that, but it gets boring after a couple of hundred pages. I wanted more action! What I do like about that is the romance. It builds nice and slow. it's more realistic and it's not a big part of the story yet. But I think it will be in the books that follow. They probably shouldn't have called it romantic in the blurb though.
So this is a pretty good book and fans of the genre might like it. If you want a nice relaxing read, I recommend it as well. If you love books that move to the action quick, I wouldn't recommend it because this isn't one of those book. I really hope we get more action in the next book. The cover is awesome though.
It started off well. I was interested in the things that were happening. I could empathize with Lucy, stuck on that island with a caregiver who seemed content to live there while Lucy suffocated from the emptiness and the loneliness. She was forbidden from singing – something that came naturally to her and I would go so far as to say that it was something necessary for her to live. I expected something more when the first incident happens and the wild magic deposits Lucy into the library of the last house she should be in. Was she a hidden princess? Was there history between her and the main villain?
The mythology is interesting and I liked that there is a sisterhood of sorts present – even though it is now a defunct one. It seems very interesting to me that though this novel contained many of the elements that would make me love a book, I can’t seem to find too much to say about it. There is no insta-romance and in fact, the romance is handled quite well. It develops gradually and there is potential for more in the next installment in the series. The narrative, while nothing new, is handled well. There is a definite sense of progress and the bad people get punished while the good ones triumph. Sort of.
The problem is that there were too many men in this novel and not enough women. Lucy was the only girl present while the other two were old women. There are more than enough men in the narrative and a lot of chauvinism and sexism directed at Lucy.
I don’t know. I didn’t hate this novel but it didn’t impress me other. I probably will read the second one in the series just to see which way it goes but I’m not going to mark my calendar and count down the days to its release.
This book had so much potential, the idea is awesome and interesting it offers something intriguing and a little bit different, but somewhere along the line this book just got lost for me.
There were four real issues I had with this book. The first was the lack of action, not much seemed to happen for a lot of the book. There was a lot of sitting around and talking but not much else, I wasn’t exactly bored by it but it didn’t grip me either. I just needed more to happen.
The second problem was the characters. They are alright but there is not enough to them. I knew very little about them and their personalities were never really developed. They were not funny, shy, happy or anything else. A few of them did have bigger personalities but generally these characters were unlikeable. The rest I found bland, including Lucy, who I struggled to connect with.
Thirdly was the villain, I just didn’t think he was bad enough. Sure, his motives and methods were nasty but like all the other characters there was not enough to him for me to actually see his villainous side, I wanted more from him.
Lastly was the romance. The blurb said this book was romantic, but in my opinion there was not enough romance in this book to be considered romantic. I felt no chemistry or connection between Lucy and Nat and to be honest I didn’t really like him for the first half of the book and neither did Lucy.
To be fair it is not all bad news. The idea for this book is a good one which I found fresh and original and the writing was good. I had no problems envisioning this world and what was happening in it. I also enjoyed the few bits of action.
Chantress is not a bad book, it is perfectly readable but it is not engaging enough to be a book that I will remember.
The Story: Overall Chantress was an enjoyable read for me. It was fairly slow paced but this made for a relaxing read. I was able to comfortably sink into the story without feeling overly anxious or stressed until the very end of the book. A good amount of Chantress focuses on Lucy's journey to figure out who she is and what her powers are. Though our heroine faces a very real threat for the most part I felt like our characters were safe. I desperately wanted to see the Shadowgrims in action and hoped they would strike more fear into me as I read. I appreciated that there weren't any closely held secrets within the book, the answers I wanted I received and fairly quickly.
The Characters: Greenfield fills Chantress with likeable characters though they aren't incredibly memorable. Lucy, our main character, grows significantly throughout the novel, gaining confidence. I was eager to learn more of our villain, such as a clearer view of his motives. At one point Lucy is able to venture into his mind and I was hoping she would do this again and learn more about him. I enjoyed the romantic aspects, they were slow to develop so no insta-love or love triangle, a welcome change.
Final Thoughts: Chantress provides a unique take on fantasy and magic and I look forward to reading the next in the series and hope for a bit of a faster pace and deeper relationship building.
I have to confess, I was initially drawn to CHANTRESS by its pretty cover, followed swiftly by the blurb which made it sound like a Maria V. Snyder or Juliet Marillier style historical fantasy with a slow-forming romance in. Which as you may or may not know, is my own personal brand of book crack.
To that end, however, it was slightly underwhelming. I found the writing engaging enough and the concept interesting (although I have read of Spell Singers before, it's certainly not something that's overdone at all), and the characters were likeable with good back stories. But the plot itself was a little too slow with too many pages dedicated to Lucy's endless training sessions and only a flurry of excitement towards the end. Also, the romance was a bit too minuscule for my liking. I like them subtle, because I like to concentrate on story and world-building, but this was blink and you'll miss it.
At this point I'd like to say that despite this book being slow and full of set-up, I see quite a lot of potential for future books, but due to the game-changing events at the end, I actually have no clue where the author plans to take the trilogy from here.
I think I'll likely check out some reviews for book two before I make my decision as to whether to carry on with this one or not.
3 Stars ★★★ ARC provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Captivating from the very first paragraph. Chantress grabbed my attention and stubbornly refused to let go. Lucy has been shipwrecked on an island with her guardian for 7 years. She lost he mother on that journey (or so she was told). Her guardian Norrie has warned her to never sing. EVER.
But on Allhallow's Eve a song pulls at her and after discovering a letter from her mother she breaks the rule and immediately regrets it. Magically teleported to London into the home of Lord Scargrove, she over hears his desire to find any Chantress. Lucy comes to realize he is describing her. She is able to esxape into a cart and lucky for her when she is discovered she is not turned in, but asked to help over throw Scargrove and his evil shadowgrims.
Through a series of events Lucy is connected with a Chantress who not only lost her magic to the shadowgrims but is also her godmother. She teaches Lucy how to preform magic properly and painstakingly. Because Lucy is drawn to wild magic which is quite dangerous. Her one relief from these rigorous sessions is visiting and Nat one of her saviors. Though their relationship is rocky she cant help but feel a small connection to him.
A temedous amount of work and creativity was put into this story and it shows! The characters are rather enjoyable I cant say that I’ve read a heroine like Lucy so that was pretty cool. And the captivating story reads rather quickly.
Note: I received an electronic ARC of this book from the publisher.
This book is sort of a cross between Star Crossed, The Singer of All Songs, and some book where the main character spends most of her time shut away in a dark basement studying.
The shut-away-studying part wasn't as boring as it could have been, but, well, it was a little boring, and I wish the plot had been a bit more intricate. It was fairly straightforward sort of three step plot: 1. Learn about the bad guy's evil doings. 2. Learn how to defeat the bad guy. 3. Defeat the bad guy.
I liked this book enough to finish it, but probably not enough to read the second one unless I start seeing really amazing reviews.
This book is not an action pact story with many fight scenes, even though the action picks up at the end, most of the time things are a bit slow as the characters need a certain time to get to know each other and themselves as they are trying to explore their gifts and put them to good use.
The story is set in the past(in 1667) and there is something very interesting happening in it: Scientists and Chantresses(a special type of witches who use songs to do their magic) are working together for the first time in order to win against evil, something very peculiar indeed since science and magic are two very opposite things.
I had already decided to read the second book before i had reached the end of the first one but the way the story finished with the promise of a romance in the sequel for the main character and her love interest, made me crave for the second book even more!
You know those books where the blurb sounds pretty good, but there's something about it, like 'a spy who turns her heart upside down', that you don't like the sound of, so you lower your expectations? And then you read the book and BAM, it's actually a really great story and you're so glad you picked it up? It's the kind of book that creeps up on you and surprises you - by making you like it - when you least expect it.
Chantress is that kind of book.
I really recommend it. For those who are unsure, the romance is basically non-existent until about the last five pages, but when it is there it's cuteness personified. (And this is coming from someone who hates romance.)
+ Intriguing story and premise - Flat, awkward characterization - Some big loopholes or question marks, such as why didn't they just have an archer assassinate the one dude causing an entire kingdom so much trouble--especially since he apparently rides around in the open--rather than come up with so much convolution - Heroine did a lot of stupid things
"If anyone is to be trusted, it is not the person who seized power. It is the person who turns it down."
Chantress was such a fast read that it didn't give me any time to get bored with the book. Too book captured my attention from beginning to end. I can't wait to get my hands on the second book in this trilogy.
"Sing and the darkness will find you" This warning has been repeated over and over again, but will Lucy follow?
This book was very good overall. I dont have a lot of thoughts about this book but let me summarize: the idea of a chantress, a descendant of past witch like creature i think that can sing spells and songs, to shape anything is very interesting. The book basically follows the chantress along with her journey of learning how to sing songs and spells underground because she had to hide from the shadowgrims. However, i didn't really like the ending because it felt rushed, and just didn't give a sense of closure. I also had a problem with the romance between the main character Lucy, and the other guy. They didn't have many interactions at all, and when they did, there was no chemistry. But all in all, i would still recommend this book to anyone who likes fantasy like books like the Chantress.
Okay the first thing I have to say is that the alternate history is very interesting, with other monarchs and what have you, even if it did confuse me a little. This was explained in the back of the book though. The plot is pretty convenient, but the magic system and lore is very unique. The romance is painfully obvious, but luckily it's not the focus and is slower and more real. Lucy definitely does not act her age, I never really felt at any point that she could be only 15. For me that's a good thing though. Overall it's a good YA novel, it left me with a good feeling after finishing it. I think I'll try out the second book, but I'm probably not gonna buy it right away.
I was excited to have the opportunity to read and review Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield. I was drawn to the beautiful, and magical book cover. Once I read the synopsis, I was highly intrigued, for I had never read a book about a Chantress or anything similar. As I began this story, my interest was piqued, as I learned about Lucy, the main character in the story. She lived on a deserted island with an elder woman, her caretaker, Norrie, who was very superstitious, and had all kinds of rigid and ritualized rules for Lucy to follow. Lucy's memory was not very good, and all she could remember was landing on the island when she was young, minus her mother (who she had very hazy and scattered memories about.) It was assumed that Lucy's mother had been lost to the Sea, and as such, Lucy, and Norrie were stranded on the island, with the hope of being rescued one day. However, everything changed on, All Hallows Eve, when Lucy heard a song on the breeze calling to her. Against Norrie's frequent orders (Lucy was never to sing under any circumstances,) Lucy sang with the longing to return home to London. Before she knew it, there was darkness, and Lucy was transferred from the island to London, minus Norrie.
This was the beginning of a mysterious time in Lucy's life, where questions would be answered, dangers would lurk at every corner, discoveries would be made on a daily basis, and Lucy's life would forever change, as she had known it.
I enjoyed Chantress, because I liked reading about something that hasn't been overdone, namely Chantresses. I loved hearing the origin story of where Chantresses came from, the histories of Lucy's powerful ancestors that had been Chantresses, the structured and difficult training Lucy had to endure, the two different types of magic performed by Chantresses, and seeing Lucy become more powerful every day, as she came into her own magic. I also enjoyed the historical setting in the story. I became more familiar with England in the late 1600's, the food and clothing of the time period, the invisible college that was made of mathematicians, scientists, philosophers, and alchemists, and the experimentation with the microscope, and firebox (a cast-iron stove,) among other things. I related to their thirst for knowledge, and admired the passion, and persistence that they used to discover more about the world that they lived in. The world-building was phenomenal, and I could easily visualize the setting of time and place. Ms. Greenfield's descriptions were perfect. As far as pacing and plot, the story was slow to develop, and there wasn't any instant love. As a matter of fact the story did not focus on romance. There was an attraction/chemistry between Lucy, and Nat, but there wasn't really any romance in this story. I would have liked the pace of the story to go a little faster, and to have had more romance in the story. However, it was nice focusing on Lucy, as a strong, powerful, lead character, that empowered herself, and dedicated herself to learning the necessary magic, and song spells. I also enjoyed reading about the secondary characters, Norrie, Nat, Penebrygg, Sir Barnaby, Lady Helaine, and various members of the invisible college. They were well-written, each served a purpose, and they became a tight-nit group that all helped guide Lucy to try to overthrow the powerful, and evil, Scargrave, that employed dark magic, and evil to do his bidding. Chantress ended in such a way that there wasn't a cliffhanger, but the ending was the perfect set-up for the beginning of the sequel.
Overall, Chantress was a creative, and refreshing new type of fantasy story. It used history, folklore, magic, and a great imagination, to create a story that is different from anything else I've ever read. It was slow to develop, had a little romance, and mainly focused on the main character, her goal, and challenges that she had to successfully overcome. I give Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield 4 stars filled with mystery, wild magic, deception, and a powerful legacy! This is a story that uses elements of historical fact, and adds in an imaginative and creative fantasy to create a unique, and authentic story that is different from anything that I have ever read! If you enjoy historical fiction and fantasy combined, Chantress is the perfect combination. If you enjoy Fantasy, but would like to try something new that has not been overdone, Chantress would be a good choice for a refreshing change of pace!
My Favorite Quotes:
"It was as if singing had pierced a hole in me, a hole only it could fill." (Nook, 9)
"I again felt a strong current pass between us, as if we were something more than reluctant allies-as if we somehow knew each other through and through. (Nook, 150)
"But that was beyond me, at least for the time being. And perhaps that was just as well. Some secrets shouldn't be forced. I needed to be patient, letting the future unfold in its own time and its own way." (Nook, 243)
This is such a breath of fresh air within the realms of witchery within YA. I'm automatically in if there are witches, but doubly in if there's music involved. Put the two together, and you basically have me buying your book. And while "Chantress" was awesome, I think it needed one more good smooth edit before getting to the ARC stage of things. I'm hoping that some of the things that got me slowed down got fixed before publication. Other than that? If you're looking for something deliciously new and enchanting within YA paranormal witchery, look no further - "Chantress" is your book.
What needed work: the external worldbuilding. While we do get a great sense of the island within the opening chapters of the book, once we get to London, it feels like Greenfield really pared things down to the point of being bare-bones about what London at that time might have felt like. When she did show us that London, it was breathtaking, and she obviously has some serious talent with sensory language when she wanted to use it. But I wanted more showing and less telling, even if there were some situations where it couldn't be used very much within the book. However, the internal worldbuilding, the paranoia brought on by Scargrave and the Shadowgrims was nothing short of excellent. You had the feeling that even you as the reader might be caught at any time, and I really enjoyed that. When authors manage to do both external and internal worldbuilding somewhat successfully, I'm impressed, and that's the case here. The external bit was just the one that needed more work out of the two.
What was good: the basic plot and the characters. While I do feel like the characters in general needed a bit more complication and expansion (especially Scargrave and Lucy - as an MC, she didn't feel quite complicated enough), the building was good enough combined with the world and the plot to propel the novel to the last page. I really couldn't stop reading - it was that good. But it could have been better. Since this looks like it's the first in a trilogy, I'm hoping that these matters will get addressed and we'll get more on Lucy and the rest of the Chantresses and their histories in future books, as well as deeper antagonists. At weighing in at a little over 300 pages, this book could have been longer with more depth to all of the technical areas in general (except sensory language - that, frankly, was spectacular) without losing any real motion or tension within the story as a whole.
I did love the dynamic between Lucy and Nat - there was no insta-love, and that was such a relief. There was also no love triangle, which was a bigger relief. Generally, all of the character relationships were well done (though I wanted more between Lucy and her godmother - that entire part of the book felt more than a bit rushed), and it's obvious that Greenfield has no problem using relationship web school of worldbuilding when she's not using the actual traditional sensory language and imagery method. Which worked in this book, though I did want more of a better balance between the two.
Now finally, to the sensory language. The Shadowgrims, the Feeding Pit - everything having to do with Scargrave, the magic, and the grimoire gave me the chills. In a good way. I seriously can't wait to read book two based on those plot points alone, because in those areas, Greenfield definitely knows how to deliver. And the idea of singing one's magic, and the difference between Proven Magic (which was a nice tip of the hat to alchemy) and Wild Magic was really, really great. I wanted more of that, and I hope we definitely get more with the history of chantress magic within book two. What we were given here was good, but it definitely needs to be expanded if there are going to be more adventures with Lucy and company. Anytime magic was used, it was almost a visceral feeling (especially with the state of Lucy's throat if she had to sing for a long time), and I love it when authors can cause that kind of response in a reader like me.
Final verdict? While this could have been cleaned up (and hope it was) before publication, this is definitely a great debut effort and deserves the read. Because of those points that needed editing, it just misses my best of 2013 list by just a hair, but is still a really fun and exciting read. "Chantress" is out now from Simon & Schuster in North America, so definitely be sure to check it out when you get the chance. I seriously can't wait until book two!
(posted to goodreads, shelfari, and birthofanewwitch.wordpress.com)