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Grayling's Song

3.27  ·  Rating details ·  772 ratings  ·  221 reviews
When Grayling’s mother, wise woman Hannah Strong, starts turning into a tree, Hannah sends Grayling to call “the others” for help. Shy and accustomed to following her mother in everything, Grayling takes to the road. She manages to summon several “others”—second-string magic makers who have avoided the tree spell—and sets off on a perilous trip to recover Hannah’s grimoire ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published June 7th 2016 by Clarion Books
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Average rating 3.27  · 
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 ·  772 ratings  ·  221 reviews

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A mysterious evil spell is turning witches into trees. Now young Grayling, a girl who is neither brave nor eager for adventure, is tasked with finding her mother's grimoire in the hopes of breaking the spell. Her quest takes her into the big wide world for the first time, where she encounters some fellow travelers who will help her on her quest.

This is my own first adventure with a fiction book on audio, and what a great experience it was. Katherine Kellgren's narration is outstanding. She not
Ivonne Rovira
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: adults who need a little magic in their lives
Recommended to Ivonne by: NetGalley
Karen Cushman, author of the Newbery Honor book Catherine, Called Birdy and Newbery Medal winner The Midwife's Apprentice, has a penned another prize-winner with Grayling’s Song. While those two — and most of her other books — are set in a historical medieval or Elizabethan England, Grayling’s Song is set in an England of the Never-Never, a medieval England where so-called “cunning women” really do practice witchery.

Grayling was named for the grayling moth, and she lives up to her namesake: uno
Rebecca McNutt
Grayling's Song had such an interesting premise, and while I've seen very similar-sounding plots in other fantasy novels such as Liesl & Po, this one seemed to offer a lot more magic. However, I didn't find that it had as much depth, and I really didn't care about any of the characters, not even Grayling herself, because they aren't really well-developed and there's not a lot of time to get to know them as characters. They're a quirky and varied bunch, sure, but their relationships and connectio ...more
Fafa's Book Corner
Review posted on Fafa's Book Corner !

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Houghton Mufflin Harcourt Children's Book Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.


When I first saw this on Netgalley in December I fell in love with the synopsis! It sounded really sweet and I love Middle Grade fantasy! You can imagine my excitement when I was able to request this. Unfortunately I did not enjoy this.

The book begins with Grayling doing some chores for her mother. They don't real
Jan 15, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: work-reviews
I read this book for my work as an uncorrected proof.

I did not like this book. It was pretty disappointing and over all just did nothing for me. It should really be called “Four women walk around calling each other names and complaining about everything”

This book made me think of when I read old fantasy that just doesn’t stand up to the test of time it feels very dated. It lacks details that would immerse you in the story; it doesn’t go far enough with the plot, any of the dangers, the magic, e
Amira Zaidat
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Grayling started up as nothing like the most of us. Having no power, no skills she ever know and only the fear that her mother will be forever rooted to the ground, she sets out on an adventure into the unknown. Grayling is such a courageous and kind hearted girl. She's been pushed to her limit, trying things she never knew she could do. Leaning on the past to guide her through. The story introduce the tiny mouse as Grayling's loyal companion. Their adventure goes beyond hill and mountain and fo ...more
Cushman's gentle charm underlines the action!

Hannah, Grayling Strong's mother, a wise woman is bewitched. As it seems are all the country's other enchanters. Having been magically rooted to the ground she is slowly turning into a tree. On top of that Hannah's grimoire (spell book) disappeared. Grayling is her mother's only hope. She must seek out others and try to find the answer. The trouble is that after years of being denigrated by her mother, Grayling is afraid of her own shadow. However, se
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was a wonderfully short and sweet fantasy novel. It actually reminded me of Uprooted but for children. Grayling's Song fits right in with Cushman's other books. A young girl who thinks not very much of herself learns she is much more capable than she believes. The world is a medieval England, but magic exists. It's a dense environment but the plot moves right along Grayling's journey, never slowing down until it's satisfying conclusion. The writing and characters make this entertaining for ...more
Look, I was confused like half the time while reading this book. I didnt enjoy it in any way. I found it somewhat boring. I don’t hate this book, the story overall was pretty good, but I feel like it just dragged on.
I didn't love this book the way I've loved Cushman's other books up until now, but I suspect this may be because I read it during my two hour wait at the DMV, and it is very hard to enjoy things while one is listening hard for one's number to be called.
I <3 Pook the shape-shifting mouse!!! ...more
Elizabeth Mathis
"Like all Karen Cushman's gorgeous novels, Grayling's Song delves into the past to let us know what we must ask of our future." --Lena Dunham

It's time for Grayling to be a hero. Her mother, a wise woman a sort of witch has been turned into a tree by evil forces. Tangles and toadstools! Lacking confidence after years of being called Feeble Wits by her mother, Grayling heads off dubiously into the wilds in search of help, where she finds a weather witch, an aromatic enchantress, a cheese soothsaye
Debbie Gascoyne
A wonderful fantasy adventure for the middle-grade reader.

Grayling's mother is a wise woman, who makes healing potions for the people of her village and has little patience with her daughter, whom she calls Feeble Wits. Then one day someone or something steals her grimoire and leaves Hannah turning into a tree. It is up to Grayling, much against her own misgivings, to learn to be a hero, find the grimoire, and break the spell on her mother and other magic users.

This is a deceptively simple, sub
Jeff Raymond
I don't like giving books a single star, nor do I like being negative about anything Karen Cushman is responsible for, given her record. With that said, I don't know what the intention was with Grayling's Song, nor can I necessarily surmise the true point or why any kid would pick this up. Ostensibly an adventure tale about rescuing a witch from turning into a tree, there's just not much in the way of engaging prose or plot to even get the ball rolling on this. I spent so much time reading this ...more
Feb 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has magic. It should be shelved as fantasy—but it is the most reality-grounded fantasy book I've ever read. Karen Cushman's main gig is writing medieval historical fiction, and I love her for it. This book is set in an alternate medieval reality where your friendly neighborhood witch who cures your boils and gives you a love potion is actually doing real magic.

I liked this book a lot. I liked the medievalness of it (which is why I love Cushman), and I thought the magic wove in well wit
Jul 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️= The story wasn't that remarkable but it made me nostalgic

Grayling's Song somehow made me nostalgic even though I haven't read it before. I think it's because of the simpleness of a middle grade book. The story itself was a grand adventure but I felt like I was on the sidelines and just watching without the stress of being part of a hard journey.

It sped by at lightning speed and the story was an easy read. The conflict was so easily resolved and nothing really worried me. It was just
This is the tale of young, shy Garyling. She discovers a fierce spell has been cast upon her mother, a well know enchantress. Others too who possess powers all seem to have become "rooted" and Grayling fears they will all eventually turn into trees. She and her friends travel to find the singing grimoire-a book a spells and charms, which only Grayling can hear and in return, they can only hear her. The group believe the grimoire will release those who have fallen to these evil powers. This comin ...more
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was ok
Sometimes I wonder if I loved Catherine, Called Birdy too much, because almost all of Cushman's books have paled in comparison to that one for me. Honestly, I wanted to shake many of the characters in this book almost all the time. Grayling was too timid, too often looking for a way not to lead. Pansy was useless and selfish. Auld Nancy was sometimes too stubborn. Desdemona was too interested in her own welfare. In not really enjoying any of the characters, it made it hard to like the book overa ...more
Ann Marie
Wasn't a bad book, but I didn't like the character Grayling. Somewhat predictable ending.
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I listened to this and thought the narrator did a fantastic job. I read some of the reviews on here and saw some people didn't like it because it was "written in archaic language" but I didn't get any of that. I'm not sure where that's coming from? Just because they said "'Tis" and "Nay?"

Regardless, I enjoyed this short juvenile fiction novel. Grayling is the daughter of a hedge witch who is assigned mundane chores such as scrubbing pots and washing dishes because she is "mediocre" in her mothe
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I think this is half what I wanted Frogkisser to be. The two aren’t similar beyond having a young female protagonist who goes on a road trip with a motley crew to deal with a larger than life antagonist. In this case, the antagonist is technically more larger than life. (Is that grammatically possible?) Too small a point of comparison to help much in deciding whether or not to read it. Whatever, the characters are awesome and it’s a nice simple quest with some roadblocks they have to think their ...more
Jennifer Kirkwood (Levac)
The original review can be found on

Middle grade fans of historical fantasy fiction I believe will enjoy this book. Grayling is a young girl who doesn't have the best relationship with her "witch" Dr mother. Hannah Strong, Grayling's mother, belittles Grayling leaving her daughter feeling down with her self-esteem. Grayling is sent out to help reverse a curse that has left Hannah Strong a tree and all the other powerful Dr's in the area.

This book took me a bit to get into. I found
Grayling is the daughter of a wise woman. Her mother, Hannah Strong, takes care of the people in their village with her magic and her potions and her songs. Grayling seems to be a disappointment to her mother and they don't appear to have a very good relationship. One day her mother frantically calls her home to find their cottage burning and her mother taking root in the ground. She sends Grayling on a quest to find the "others" and discover who has done this dark magic and stolen their grimoir ...more
Graying experiences quite the adventure in Grayling's Song. Being given the task to gather "the others" and find her mother's spellbook in order to save the world from a very vague evil shadowy menace was quite a terrifying concept for her. There are only a handful of people with the ability to help her, and she instantly starts off on her quest to find them

She manages to accumulate quite the variety of people. I loved how their personalities clashed and blended together at times in such a fun
Dec 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
Grayling is the daughter of the local Wise Woman and helps her mother by gathering herbs and brewing assorted remedies and cures. When some kind of evil destroys their cottage, steals the grimoire, and roots her mother to the ground like a tree, it is up to Grayling to save them. Although her intention is simply to find help, Grayling ends up taking a much more active role. Told in Cushman's lyrical prose, this adventure is about believing in oneself and finding one's inner strength. Plus it has ...more
Feb 20, 2016 rated it liked it
A fantasy story written from the cultural perspective of medieval England. That is to say, it's quite possible that you've never read anything quite like this.

It's quite well done, and would be fascinating to read and compare and discuss in the context of that time, and other books ostensibly about that time. I just found myself, as a post-modern north american reader, wanting more character work and more empathy towards the side characters. The main character's journey is wonderful. The side c
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
After reading a bunch of good and average YA books I really felt like I needed a middle grade. Something short, light fantasy, and close to 200 pages. I browsed my younger sisters collection and found this little gem! Normally I don't like middle grade because of its age range, which makes it quite shallow. On the contrary, Graylings Song was actually so much fun. It was still a bit shallow and the story was very limited but I enjoyed the glimpse of the world and the fun cast of characters. I wo ...more
Jan 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: f, net-g, dnf
Unfortunately, I could not get too involved in this book. It was so somber and glum that I felt a bit uneasy while reading it. Perhaps that it is just a book not to be read during cold, dreary Winter days!
To me, it seems like Karen Cushman has a very distinct writing style, and Grayling's Song is a very pure, distilled example. It is well written, and I believe many people would enjoy reading it. It is not my favorite of her books, though.

**eARC netgalley**
Kris - My Novelesque Life
DNF - Unfortunately, I was unable to finish this novel (3 chapters in) as I could not get into the setting, characters, dialogue and plot. I do like that this story is about a young girl coming into her own and maybe I am too old for this writing.
Beautifully narrated by Katherine Kellgren, Grayling's Song is about a witch's daughter who has to save her mother, whose Grimoire has been stolen and her mother rooted to the ground. Loved the colorful cast of characters, especially the cute mouse!
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Karen Cushman was born in Chicago, Illinois.

She entered Stanford University on a scholarship in 1959 and graduated with degrees in Greek and English. She later earned master’s degrees in human behavior and museum studies.

For eleven years she was an adjunct professor in the Museum Studies Department at John F. Kennedy University before resigning in 1996 to write full-time.

She lives on Vashon Isla

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