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Cuckoo Song

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  6,792 ratings  ·  1,213 reviews
The first things to shift were the doll's eyes, the beautiful grey-green glass eyes. Slowly they swivelled, until their gaze was resting on Triss's face. Then the tiny mouth moved, opened to speak. 'Who do you think you are? This is my family.'

When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; she keeps waking up with l
Paperback, 409 pages
Published May 8th 2014 by Pan MacMillan
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aquiverofwords It's not. Scary. Well, not very. It's creepy, but don't worry - it isn't nightmare material. …moreIt's not. Scary. Well, not very. It's creepy, but don't worry - it isn't nightmare material. (less)
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Maggie Mckee
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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,792 ratings  ·  1,213 reviews

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Emily May
Sep 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Something bad happened here, something that should never have taken place.
I've changed my mind. I don't want to remember.

4 1/2 stars. Okay, we need to talk about Frances Hardinge. Despite seeing positive review after positive review, I have been putting her books off for years. Partly because they're supposed to be "middle grade" and partly because I couldn't really make sense of the blurbs - they sounded just... weird.

Well, Tatiana finally made me read The Lie Tree, which gave way to a week
Wendy Darling
Dec 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Wendy Darling by: Kim
Creepy, complex, genuinely frightening, thrilling, sad, and unbelievably tender and hushed and beautiful all at once. This is a dark, violent fairy tale, it's a mystery, it's a fantasy, it's horror, it's historical, it's gothic, and it's also the story of a girl trying to find a place for herself among a grieving family torn apart by war. The family dynamics and sister relationship are so well done, as are the way the book handles loss and longing. And on top of that? Feminism and jazz and tea s ...more
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

4.5 stars

I don't read very many middle grade books.

It's not that I don't like them or that I think I've outgrown them . . . I'm just not . . . very interested in the kinds of stories and perspectives that frequent the age 9 - 12 bracket.


There's a reason I don't ostracize them entirely, and that reason is HARRY POTTER. The first several HARRY POTTER books can be classified as many things, but they are definitely middle grade, and they encapsulate the very best that MG
Ruby Granger
May 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
This was surprisingly good! I am continually impressed by Hardinge's middle-grade books and I implore you not to miss out on them simply because of the recommended age rating.
There is a marked shift in the genre (it becomes more fantastical as the book proceeds, just like The Lie Tree) which I really like because you kind of get the best of both worlds. Set in Victorian England, we follow 11 year old Triss who realises something is very wrong with her but can't quite work out what... she knows
I was watching the third Hobbit movie the other day (bear with me - I'm going somewhere with this) with no particular pleasure. There are few things in life more painful to a children's librarian than watching an enjoyable adventure for kids lengthened and turned into adult-centric fare, then sliced up into three sections. Still, it’s always interesting to see how filmmakers wish to adapt material and as I sat there, only moderately stultified, the so-called “Battle of the Five Armies” (which, i ...more
Reading Corner
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars

I wasn't a big fan of this book at all.It was completely different to what I expected,the story sounded so good, I thought I'd definitely love this one but I didn't.I found the story quite boring and I thought it was really dragged out with nothing that really fully engaged me in the story.

I found the main character Triss pretty annoying but Pen started to grow on me and I loved Violet.The story wasn't entertaining at all, I continually found myself zoning out for numerous pages so then
Mar 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone

I don’t read middle grade because I prefer more adult themes in my stories, but if this book is anything to go by I’ve been missing out. This was just superbly written, completely engrossing, and just fantastic!
”Mummy, help me, please help me, everything’s strange and nothing’s right, and my mind feels as if it’s made up of pieces and some of them are missing…”
The story is about a family who, suffering from a terrible grief, make a deal with the devil- the Architect. As th
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

Well that book was nutzy cuckoo, no pun intended.

Triss wakes up and can't remember what happened to her, or who her family is, or why she is so hungry. I thought she was some kind of weird monster... well... I'm not telling you!

Triss has a sister named Pen that seems to hate her guts. She runs around calling her a monster... so what in the crap is going on?

Her parents take her to the doctor and he says Triss is fine accept she is losing weight and needs to
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was rather impressed with how much I could feel and relate for our heroine, but then I wonder if this is more a feature of good YA or just a feature of excellent writing.

In the end, I am forced to admit that my peer-pressuring buddies who twisted mine arms to read another YA title outside of my so-called comfort zone were all very right in their decision to do so. I feel as if I learned something very important in this book, even if I didn't discover anything new about myself or through the me
Apr 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am declaring this to be one of my favourite reads of 2015. I am a long time lover of Frances Hardinge's work, but this is my favourite book of hers. Cuckoo Song has all the things I expect from tale by Hardinge, specifically, fabulous use of language, unrestrained creativity, and just the right amount of darkness.

Also present are a trademark host of deeply complex and well developed characters, who, not content to sit still in their pigeon holes, shift and change our perceptions of them thoug
Sep 09, 2013 marked it as to-read
I don't care what this is going to be about, I want to read it. Real bad.

In Frances Hardinge, I trust.

Four and a half stars!

Triss has always been ill, it seems, suffering from a string of fevers and other symptoms. But one day she wakes up with the conviction that something is far more wrong than usual. Her parents’ and younger sister’s reactions confirm her suspicions. But what could be different? She feels like the same Triss as always -- doesn’t she? As Triss tries to solve the mystery of herself, she also discovers some deep secrets that threaten to destroy her family. Can she fix herself -
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, younger, horror
This was excellent, every bit as good and creepy as her Well-witched.
This dark and rich engagement with the supernatural was what I was hoping for from "In the Shadow of Blackbirds" by Cat Winters (although absent the romantic element).
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A dark little tale of a faerie changeling, family and loss with a compelling heroine.

Triss is a young daughter of wealthy parents in 1920s England. The story picks up with Triss recovering from a nasty near drowning experience that's left her unable to remember some things about her life and a sense of overall wrongness. And her 9 year old sister Pen appears to be terrified of her. It's fairly quickly apparent that she isn't actually who she thinks she is, and for a large swathe of the novel ref
Mar 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I didn't know Frances Hardinge had a new book out soon, so when I saw someone else talking about it in the Stacking the Shelves meme among book bloggers, I had to try. And lo and behold, I was approved for it on Netgalley. Thanks, guys!

So today I had a long train journey -- four to five hours. I loaded Cuckoo Song onto my reader before I left, and had it finished before I even reached halfway. It's a compulsive read without naked demands for attention; the tension is, for the most part, in uneas
This is the closest I've come to DNFing a book this year. Despite the fact that I liked the writing style, it did not take me long to realise that there was little else that I liked about this book.

I didn't care at all for a single character in this book. This sends huge alarm bells ringing in my head. Characters are so important for me and the fact that I could not care less about what happened to them was a huge negative for me. In fact, I could not help but be completely irritated by the use
Oct 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
I'm really glad Justine made me read this one! :) This is a book I would have never thought to pick up, only because I don't read very much YA unless it's a series that everyone seems to be reading. This book has very imaginative descriptions that made for a dreamy-type setting to the story. The mystery slowly materialized into a "whoa!" moment of realization of what was really going on, and the remainder of the book was set at a perfect pace as I raced to the end to find out how it would all en ...more
Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘

Considering that there's a creepy doll on the cover (my worst nightmare, with clowns), I'd say that I'm feeling pretty brave today. WOOT!

I don't care it's middle-grade I'm SURE of my ability to be scared by it nonetheless What that says about me I don't quite know
Because of its rather dark, faerie-like element, I preferred this to The Lie Tree (although I enjoyed that too). The whole idea of the main character being who she is was incredibly clever, I found and, as always, Hardinge has the whole plot tighter than a well-fitted screw. The essence of 1920s Britain is etched behind the words on the page and the pace and mystery of the story does so well to carry you through the first half of the story where it passes the baton to a nervous, gripping second ...more
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I put off reading this despite friends insisting that it is the greatest book known to man as I don't like horror and I don't like creepy dolls. Amazon cleverly sucked me in with their daily deal, 99p is just such a bargain.

It begins with a young girl, who has memory loss from a near drowning whilst also suffering a long, ongoing illness. Her petty, spiteful sister seems to be involved. Her parents have servants to raise the children but also don't seem to want anyone, including the sister, near
Heather *Undercover Goth Queen*
I liked:

The characters were well-drawn, especially Pen and Violet. I didn't form a real connection with Triss, but I did like her thought processes (view spoiler). The plot was wildly imaginative, and there were several creepy moments. (view spoiler)

I didn't like:

The writing was good, but for me there were a few too many similes used. The story was well-paced and didn't lack for action
Jan 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Despite there being quite a lot of typographical errors in the text, Cuckoo Song was an incredibly creepy book that kept me guessing, right to the very last page.

It’s a changeling story told from a different point of view to most, but beyond that, it’s a story about people. It’s a story about broken human beings, and the things they’ll do to try and feel useful again.

The rest of this review can be found here!
Oct 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is just fantastic! It's well written and has a great characters. It's a little bit creepy (ok a lot creepy in some places) and it definitely has a dark side to it. I was completely engaged from beginning to end. I really hope the author considers writing more about these characters. I would happily read more about Trista and Violet with a little bit of Triss and Pen thrown in. ...more
Jul 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing
When I go to see a movie and I feel I will like it,I avoid all reviews.Why have anything spoiled?British fantasy award for 2015 awarded Cuckoo Song best novel .So I read it without any foreknowledge.Im glad I did Cuckoo Song is the best book I read all year.
Jun 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Probably the weirdest and most unsettling meditation on sorrow and grieving (badly) I've ever read. Hardinge stories seem deceptively normal to start and then rapidly begin unraveling. Cuckoo Song begins like a family drama - girl recovering from mysterious accident, dealing with memory issues, a younger sister who seems to hate her - and then even the most basic assumptions about what's actually going on start to fall apart. With its memory gaps, growing sense of menace, and dream-like compulsi ...more
Tanja Berg
I had this book on my kindle for a couple of weeks and was reluctant to pick it up. An author I had never heard of, with a story that sounded a bit amateurish although the premise was good. Then after finishing the utterly indigestible "the Morrow Secrets" I thought nothing could possibly be worse. Thus I started this book with non-existent expectations. When I saw that it was 400 pages I sighed tiredly. I read long books easily if they are good, but that was not what I thought lay in the cards. ...more
4.5* re-read

My first Frances Hardinge book and certainly not my last. The first thing that grabbed me, apart from the beautiful cover, was the language. From the very beginning, I was in awe at the author's style, especially her imagery, and kept having to re-read many sentences ("Somebody had taken a laugh, crumpled it into a great, crackly ball and stuffed her skull with it"). Additionally, the first 100 pages are truly unsettling.

Then the story, achingly beautiful. Without giving anything awa
Mar 14, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-to-review
(I received a copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.)

Cuckoo Song felt like it was 800 pages, because it was really slow.
I would sit down and read a few chapters, and it would feel like i had read half a book... but then i would see that i had actually only read 10%!

The beginning of this was really confusing and weird.
As the story progressed, it became slightly less confusing... but it got a lot more weird.

The characters were okay, but they could be annoying at times.
Pen had m
Jul 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2020, mystery, ya
What a unique and atmospheric story. Story was always unpredictable and surprised me with directions it took. Also had layers upon layers of questions and mysteries. And I love stories about siblings and their adventures (Over the garden wall, Song of the sea, Charmed life). It also had Neil Gaiman’s, Spirited away and Witches (movie) vibes.
I have yet to be disappointed by anything Frances Hardinge has written, and Cuckoo Song is no exception - in fact, it might actually be my favourite of her books so far.

If you take just the bones, this could have been a great, slightly creepy kids' adventure story that would have been perfectly satisfying. Instead, a fantastic choice of POV, an intriguing setting and the addition of a whole heap of more complex layers (unhealthy family dynamics, a society still reeling from the aftermath of WW1,
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Frances Hardinge spent her childhood in a huge, isolated old house in a small, strange village, and the two things inspired her to write strange, magical stories from an early age. She studied English at Oxford University and now lives in Oxford, England.

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