Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Turnaway Girls” as Want to Read:
The Turnaway Girls
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Turnaway Girls

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  338 ratings  ·  125 reviews
Delphernia Undersea wants to sing. But everyone on Blightsend knows music belongs to the Masters — and girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea.

On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside,
272 pages
Published October 9th 2018 by Candlewick
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Turnaway Girls, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Turnaway Girls

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  338 ratings  ·  125 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Turnaway Girls
Hannah Greendale
A debut that sings! Chewins introduces both an inventive idea (girls who weave gold from music) and a lyricism rarely found in middle-grade literature (best described as literary fantasy). The advanced diction and complexity of the story make it suitable for upper middle-grade readers (ages 10 to 14), but this book that blazes with sorrow and longing will likely enchant adults, too. Highly recommend to fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon or anyone who enjoys a brooding tale centered on a girl wi ...more
Sep 16, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, kindle
A gorgeous cover The Turnaway Girls is a beautiful middle grade book that leads with the message of being your true self.

Thanks to Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review
Whispering Stories
Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Book Reviewed by Stacey on

Twelve-year-old Delphernia is a turnaway girl. She lives on Blightsend, a strange little island that seems to be ruled by the sea and lives inside in the cloisters. The job of the turnaway girls is to make gold by turning music into shimmer. They are not allowed to sing or the sea will take them. Deplhernia maybe a turnaway girl but she can’t make shimmer, she also has too many thoughts which annoy her teacher – Mother Nine. Plus, she really wa
R.M. Romero
Mar 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A shining, feminist book as lyrical as the songs the heroine hides away inside of her.
Alice (Married To Books)
I won a copy of the book in a Twitter giveaway via the publishers!

BIG NEWS- I'm running an international giveaway on Instagram, head over to this link for more details!:

T/W- Bullying, Abusive character

What a haunting debut novel from Hayley. This middle-grade story follows young Delphernia who lives on a strange island called Blightsend and is known as a 'turnaway girl.' There are other girls known as this and their role, is to create gold with the power
Mar 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is a rare thing indeed to find an author with as much command of language as Hayley Chewins. I was so floored reading this that I gasped out loud and hugged the book--I RARELY EVER HUG THE BOOK. But the imagination, the language, the poetry of the words and story, it all came together so perfectly I fell right into the cloister with Delphernia, who was such a joy. This is a story for anyone who's been pushed down and fought tooth and nail to rise. A book-friend for anyone yearning to sing, wh ...more
Joanna Meyer
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-tbr
This lovely book is filled with music, music, music. It brims with it. It sings. I could get lost in the rhythm of the prose and live there forever. Simply gorgeous. 💚
Kester Grant
Feb 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I devoured Turnaway Girls in one sitting, Chewins paints a lyrical magical world in the style of Laini Taylor, this is a completely original fairy tale by a stunning new talent.
Feb 11, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm also a book blogger: Vee_Bookish

When I started reading The Turnaway Girls, I saw the 272 pages and the larger font and thought that this would be an easy, quick read. It was not. Some of the book was difficult to read emotionally, due to the violence, while other parts just didn't quite capture my interest as much and I would like and I ended up forcing myself to read it to find out what happens.

This is a fantasy world with it's own words and rules, which for me took some getting used to. It
Jan 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first thing that I noticed while reading The Turnaway Girls is how poetic every sentence flows into the next , which made a delightful unusual fictional read. I would never have thought that this was Hayley Chewins first novel. After I read the whole book I then read about Hayley Chewins who is actually a published poet. Part of the book has the title The Cloisters where nothing grows except for lung moss and half-dead tongue-fruit trees that don't sprout petals. You can't leave the cloister ...more
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a beautiful book that explores empowerment, acceptance and the music and voice of the individual’s life. I especially love how the narrative sings; the writing is poetic and musical, and if you are a fan of Edgar Allan Poe’s sense of musicality, you will be mesmerised by the sound of this fantastic and fantastical gem. I will highly recommend this debut to those who need to rekindle their passions, hopes and dreams. The author has definitely written her heart out. I have felt it through the ...more
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a stunning book. The language is poetic, thoughtful, sparse, but so carefully crafted and emotive. Reading the entire book felt like being in the best kind of dream - where anything could happen, and you never want it to end. I would read anything by this author. What a command of language! I was really blown away by this book. I hope that everyone who reads it - young and old, is as inspired as I was - to speak up, to use my voice, to never surrender my dreams. Stunning.
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
As a child, I devoured fairy tales. The worlds were magical, but they also showed me the reality that there was both good and bad, lightness and darkness in the world. Fairy tales did not sugar coat the violence nor the importance of our choices. The older I got, the more I continued to read books that reminded me of those first fairy tales I loved. Fantastic and magical worlds created by E. Nesbitt, George MacDonald, Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Diana Wynne Jones, and Ursula K. Le ...more
Alyssa Nelson
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*

What an absolutely magical, heartfelt, wonderful story. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful this book is. Even as an adult, this story is so much and if I’d read it fifteen years ago, it easily would have been a favorite. I wasn’t sure how weird this was going to be, because the description is a bit strange, but it is absolutely wonderful and if you like fantasy at all, definitely give
Karlita | Tale Out Loud
I'm so excited to read this book! But for now, I'm hype to share the interview I did with Hayley Chewins where she talks about how everyone who has been bullied can relate to Delphernia Undersea’s character. Read more here: ...more
Alex (PaperbackPiano)
This delightfully feminist middle grade book was a great start to 2019. The prose is really quite lovely and the author uses metaphors masterfully to create vivid descriptions. The repetition of various motifs lend this book a quiet strength that I found really quite moving at times.

This book does require a large degree of suspension of disbelief at first but once you get into the flow of things, it becomes easier. The musical subject matter is a joy (is anyone really surprised that I loved it?
Katie Clark
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was lucky enough to read an early draft of this book and can't express how special it is. Hayley Chewins writes with an elegance and complete surrender to fantasy that I go looking for in books by Laini Taylor and Kiran Milwood Hargrave. There is something extremely beautiful about when a writer opens up their soul and it pours onto the page into words with mystical lyricism that create images of liquid gold. This is a book about remaining true to who you are even if everyone around you is pro ...more
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some books, like a fine wine, need to be savoured. This fantasy middle grade debut coming out in October is one of those books. Reading THE TURNAWAY GIRLS transports you to a place you’ve never been, full of rich language and images that feel so unlike your own world. It’s deep, dark and beautiful, and you should keep it on your radar.
I loved it! I borrowed it at the library, read it there for a few hours and then stayed up way past 1 am because I just couldn't put it down. It was awesome, and I love the way the author tied in those ideas of feminism. ...more
Rachel Solomon
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Nadine Larter
Mar 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Well I pretty much read that in one sitting... Its exquisite!! The book reads like a song, lyrical and beautiful. I had zero expectations and chose it purely for its pretty cover. What a surprise thought! I absolutely loved it!
Melanie Sumrow
Mar 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the most lyrical middle grade novels I’ve ever read—each word has been chosen with purpose and the result is astonishing! I love how Delphernia stands up against the expectations of her in a very rigid society that has already decided her place. She is strong, but not without self-doubt, making her an endearing character.
Amelinda Bérubé
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book's lilting, musical, magical prose will pull you right into Delphernia's world until you can practically taste the sea air and feel the stone walls closing in. A beautiful reminder to any reader that they can use their voice to change the world. ...more
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Musical, breathtaking empowering, feminist message...I loved every word!
Jessica Shelley
Mar 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2020
The Turnaway Girls is the kind of story that feels like a fairy tale. Something old and buried. Something that could resonate in any time/history. Like a foundation. Something that has been around for centuries, like the stars myths & forgotten. But here it is, resurfaced in your hand. A treasure remembered and cherished. Something sacred and ancient.
It takes such residence in your heart that it speaks to your soul, grasps your intuition, and opens, like a key to Bluebeards chamber showing the t
Faith Rivens
Nov 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-of-2018
This MG novel flows with a rich music rooted deeply in its main character, Delphernia Undersea. She is one of the Turnaway Girls expected to make gold from music but she has never been able to. Instead she must hide her voice and her ability to make life with it or risk being thrown in the sea.

This book sings of finding yourself, rebellion, friendship, courage... It breathes such a unique world with unforgettable characters. This is one of my favourite reads this year and highly recommend you pi
Aug 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs-ahoy, 2018
I'm a sucker for a book that twists language into something lyrical and magical. The Turnaway Girls does just that as it sets up a world where making shimmer/gold from music is not only possible, but something destined from birth.

Delphernia Undersea is a turnaway girl who can't do any of the things turnaway girls are meant to do. She can't make shimmer, she can't stop asking questions or thinking for herself, and she can't help but sing. Only when she's alone with her birds, though, because "gi
Kristi Housman Confessions of a YA Reader
I wasn't sure what to think of this book, but once I got halfway through, I really started liking it a lot.

Delphernia is a turnaway girl.  She is being raised with the other turnaway girls by Mother Nine.  Mother Nine is extremely abusive (trigger warning).  The turnaway girls make shimmer (gold) when they hear music, but Delphernia can't make it.  She would prefer to sing, but girls who sing are taken by the sea.

The Masters come to take away some of the girls.  They play music and the girls mak
Oct 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
More like a 3.5

I almost broke down reading some parts of The Turnaway Girls. Seriously. I don't want to ruin this book, and all the tragic and emotional surprises in store. But there was something about it that spoke to me. The way this was so clearly almost dystopic and the way that the society is trying to shape Delphernia into something she isn't. The ways they try to force her into a mold. It's not a discussion and there is no real chance to exist outside it. I read it as a metaphor for the
Diane Magras
Aug 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a powerful fable about girls who are forced to use their voices to produce gold for their rulers' wealth, as well as a girl whose voice can create more than gold: She breathes souls into stone. Never direct but beautifully subtle, this story weaves a dramatic plot of escape and survival with a sensitive, mysterious protagonist fighting against what she's always been told against the background of legends: Most of a sea hungry for those who sing. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Boy, The Bird and The Coffin Maker
  • The Problim Children
  • The Lost Tide Warriors (Storm Keeper, #2)
  • In the Shadow of Heroes
  • Carnival Catastrophe (The Problim Children, #2)
  • Anya and the Dragon (Anya, #1)
  • Za wszelką cenę
  • Rooftoppers
  • Salt & Stone (Fire & Flood, #2)
  • Begone the Raggedy Witches (The Wild Magic Trilogy #1)
  • The Eleventh Trade
  • The Unicorn Quest (The Unicorn Quest #1)
  • Cursebreakers (Tom 1) A Curse So Dark and Lonely. KlÄtwa (Tom 1) KlÄtwa tak ciemna i samotna - Brigid Kemmerer [KSIÄĹťKA]
  • Malamander (The Legends of Eerie-on-Sea, #1)
  • The Good Thieves
  • Embraced by the Light
  • In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse
See similar books…
Hayley Chewins grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, in a house so full of books that she learnt to read by accident. The second eldest of four daughters, she sang incessantly as a child -- so incessantly, in fact, that she was sent to lessons twice a week in the interests of household peace. Hayley studied classical voice for a year before switching to a degree in English Literature and Italian. Sh ...more

Related Articles

Author, journalist, public intellectual, and (in recent years) comic book writer, Ta-Nehisi Coates is an Extremely Busy Person by any metric, and...
100 likes · 30 comments
“Words are never alone when they are spoken,” says Bly. “They carry their echoes with them.” 1 likes
“Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it, because that’s the thing with her sly-sticking tongue: she likes to turn words over until they mean nothing but what they aren’t.” 0 likes
More quotes…