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The Songbird's Refrain

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  35 ratings  ·  30 reviews
When a mysterious show arrives in town, seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Brighton is both intrigued and unsettled. But none of the acts capture her attention quite like the blue-eyed woman. Locked in a birdcage and covered in feathers, the anguish in her voice sounds just a little too real to be an act—because it isn’t. The show’s owner, a sadistic witch known only as the ...more
Published September 3rd 2019 by Jillian Maria
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Average rating 4.43  · 
Rating details
 ·  35 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Jul 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Actual rating is 3.5. I received an eARC from the author and this did not influence my rating whatsoever.
“A final work of art. She’s different from anything you’ve ever seen before, but do not let that frighten you away, because art is about finding beauty in the strangest, most frightening of places. If you listen to her tale, I’m sure you’ll find that this is true.”

Jillian Maria’s writing (okay first of all her name has such a
Kimberly Grey
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Songbird's Refrain is an amazing book. I picked it up and didn't put it back down until I'd read through the entire thing. Every chapter beckons you into the next one with hints of secrets, romance, and excitement. The side characters each have lives of their own, the protagonist is relatable and cheer-worthy in her journey and the antagonist makes me want to hit her even though I'm sure that would be the last mistake I ever made. I definitely recommend this book
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book is a blast, with a hint of creepy, a dose of suspense, and a nice dollop of fluffy wlw.

Despite nearly the entire story taking place in the same basic location, the plot never feels slow or aimless. The mystery is engaging, constantly pulling the reader forward with new hints. The MC goes through a wonderful character arc and is very easy to root for, the villain is just as easy to love to hate, and all the side characters have interesting personalities and impact the plot. The prose
Eff Off
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: love
I will post a full review once I've stopped screaming and gotten my thoughts in order. <3
Audrey B.
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh, this little gem of a book.

It's such a good read, and I don't think I'll ever get sick of it. First, the book reads delightfully well: the plot moves at a good pace, with lots of fun reveals along the way. It's also deliciously creepy, but you don't have to be into horror to enjoy it (I say this as a proud bby weakling who shudders at the slightest yuck factor.)

The main draw of this book for me is the characters, and principally the protagonist: she's so relatable, and her development is
Cinnia Is Still Not Over Thornfruit
Oh my gosh, I'm really glad I didn't spoil myself by reading any spoilery reviews or whatnot about this book beforehand because I had so much fun reading it by not knowing what to expect besides there being a girl named Elizabeth who sprouts feathers and sings. Anyway, please indulge me while I spaz about this creepy-lovely read. (Which fit the aesthetic of this time of year so perfectly, too, I might add, if you're thinking about buying this book. Hint-hint.)

- The book is written in
Margaret Adelle
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received an advanced copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

When I first read the synopsis, the story came across to me like a more magic-filled WILDER GIRLs. While the body horror isn't quite as gruesome as that tale, this one is still anxiety-inducing. The descriptions of the show as Elizabeth first sees it are incredibly vivid. I felt creeped out before the real action even started.

When things did start happening, they were confusing. But, that was how it was supposed to
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ah! I loved this book. It's refreshing to read a book that sings to its audience. (Get it? SINGS? Like a...never mind.)

I think that's what I enjoyed most: how authentic Elizabeth is. There's magic and suspense and a mystery to unravel, and all of that is great. But Elizabeth is an average teenage girl, just like the YA readers this book was written for. She's not equipped to battle a witch, which makes it easy to put yourself in her shoes. She acts the way my 17 year-old self would’ve acted -
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
An atmospheric horror story about lonelinesss, performing arts, witches and sapphic love.
Be aware of body horror (feathers!!), gore and some lengths.
c, (½ of readsrainbow)
ARC kindly provided by Jillian Maria

Rep: lesbian mc, bi li

Five Reasons to (Ignore my Rating And) Read this Book

(view spoiler)
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
*I received an ARC of this book and I will provide my honest opinion about it. The few spoilers will be hidden*

I rated this 4 stars only because I keep 5 stars for the classics, the timeless literary masterpieces that are now discussed in academia. This book can very well be 5 stars if you don't have my rating system.

I read it in one afternoon even though my free time was scarce at that time. The book is worth the time, it's a great read. The writing is enjoyable, interesting and professional.
Nov 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For full disclosure: I was given a free pdf copy in return for a review. However, it was entirely up to me to decide the content of the review and after finishing the book I am seriously considering buying a physical copy. I’ll try to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible, but if you don’t want to know anything about the plot, then feel free to stop reading here. Book=good.

First thing’s first: If you want a queer book that isn’t about ‘’the queer experience’’ or romance (not my preferred
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received an advanced copy from the author in exchange for an honest review

“The cost of freedom is not so easily predicted little songbird”

Having been sent The Songbird’s Refrain by the author I originally thought that I would struggle to make it through the book, fitting it in around work and social commitments, however when I started reading the book I finished it in two days of straight reading.
The book was beautifully written and full of emotion. The story line remained creative and
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Really, really, really loved this book. One of my favorites of the year, for sure.

You’ve got wlw, you’ve got magic (and not the fun kiddie kind)... you’ve got a very well-written book with a unique story that doesn’t skimp on the details, and leaves zero plot holes. That’s a pretty awesome combination if you ask me.

There’s a lot I loved about this book, but I think one of my favorite parts was being inside Elizabeth’s head as the feathers continued to grow. The horror of discovering them as
A. Hunt
Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Many believe there is power in a name, even more when the name is spoken. Others believe they're insignificant, unimportant, nothing at all. That's Elizabeth Brighton. Her life's an empty, blank slate where she's barely noticed, but she's used to it. Unhappy, but used to it.

So when she meets a girl, someone who seems to see her for who she really is, it's a no brainer to attend the event the girl is hosting. Elizabeth even feels a connection to the one known as Bridget. What she finds is
Elena Johansen
Jul 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
I was provided a free copy of the book by the author for review purposes. This consideration does not affect my review in any way.

A debut novel that showcases a lot of potential but is hampered by a few amateurish flaws.

At first, I liked the story. A wee baby lesbian with an interesting way of talking herself out of self-centeredness (or even, occasionally, paranoia) doesn't run away to join the circus, but is instead kidnapped by one. (Not exactly a circus, but it's the best shorthand to use
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ahh, this book killed me. In a good way, really!

Despite a rocky beginning, i couldn't put this book down. I really, really love romance, especially when the genre is fantasy, and this book really ticked off all the things i love about it. This story's got it all: horror/suspense, witchy-goodness, magic, and a really lovely romance between the mc and her love interest (and its super gay). (view spoiler)
Sep 02, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019-reads
Before I begin, I’d like to mention that I received a free digital copy of this story in exchange for an honest review. Before being selected for this, however, I was completely certain I would purchase the book anyway, making this a fantastic opportunity to take in the story.

All in all, this story was a great read and I really enjoyed it. It’s not very often that I get to read a story with such an organically and naturally written character that’s a member of the LGBT+ community and, as a
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really strong debut book! I LOVED the lesbian/bi rep and mostly female characters as a cast. This book definitely passes bechdel test haha. I personally didn't see most of the revelations coming so they were nice crumbs of info to follow along. The only reason why I'm giving it a 4 instead of 5 is because I had a really hard time getting into the story. The first 50% was a bit passive and that's simply because Elizabeth was a captive. She couldn't do much but sleep and wonder how to get out. ...more
Kira Martin
Sep 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an impartial review.

Songbirds Refrain followed the easy pattern of YA literature, while still bringing new interesting elements to life within it. The main character is someone that many younger people can relate to with her mantra of "I'm not important." But throughout the course of the book, she seems to find herself more and more.

My favorite part about this book of the LGBTQ representation. I feel like I never see enough books with queer people,
Rebecca Taur
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Elizabeth isn't important. Often unseen by her classmates, school faculty, and even her own parents, she goes through life reminding herself she matters little... right until she matters a lot.

Under the control of an oppressive circus mistress? magician? tormenter? Elizabeth sprouts feathers and must sing. The collection of people trapped with her--or there of their own free will--add depth and interesting characters to a fascinating and horrific concept.

Despite the magic, the dreams, and even
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Okay, so I absolutely loved this story. It did take me a little bit to get into it, but the style easily drew me along until I was 110% invested. And once that happened, I couldn't put it down.

This is not a light read - too much dark magic, betrayal, and abuse for that - but it's so well written, and has an absolutely amazing ending! It's rare for me to find books with truly cathartic endings. Usually you get a hand wave, or "happily ever after" tacked on like an afterthought. Not here though.
Avalon Roselin
Jul 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I was given an advanced copy to review by the author. This has not affected my view of the book.

I will need time to gather my thoughts on this book, and will do so when I release a full video review in December this year, but what I can say is--The Songbird's Refrain was magical, and not just because the protagonist is cursed by a witch! Jillian Maria perfectly captures the beauty and tragedy of fairy tales in this enchanting yet harrowing love story, though I dare not say more than that for
Allyson Myers
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for giving an honest review. But I am very excited to share my thoughts.

100% recommend this book. I love the way Jillian Maria deals with love, juxtaposing cruel possession with mutual choosing. The beginning really did give me Night Circus vibes, but much darker. But I love strange, mystical magic from another realm. I also enjoyed the dreams. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, but I think that was good. As the main character was
Julie Wuthrich
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A great wlw fantasy story with a compelling main character you'll just want to root for, and a plot that will keep you at the edge of your seat until the very end. I literally could not put that book down once I started it! A little creepy and eerie, mysterious and full of suspense, The Songbird's Refrain also has powerful messages that we all need to hear - and the little traits of humor are never misplaced. If you're looking for a great (and amazingly queer) Halloween read, this book is made ...more
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Songbird’s Refrain is a modern fairytale with a fast pace, strong characters, and writing that hits all the right notes. The story never flagged...and neither did my attention.

For my complete, detail review of plot, characters, and qualitative criteria, go here:
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jillian's debut novel is a marvel. Full of surprising turns, vivid characters, and rich description, I had a hard time putting this book down. If you like magic, character growth, suspense, and realistic dialogue, make sure you grab this book ASAP!
Susan Justice
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

One of the best and unique stories I’ve read this year. Very imaginative and filled with emotion, love, mystery, fantasy, and a bit of horror? Not sure that is the right word. Well worth a read, and a second! Well written by a talented author! Thank you!
Dal Cecil Runo
Dec 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe my favourite book of 2019. At least one of my favourites.
Oct 24, 2019 marked it as to-read
I haven't started reading this yet but I gotta say this cover absolutely slaps
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Jillian Maria enjoys tea, pretty dresses, and ripping out pieces of herself to put in her novels. She writes the books she wants to read, prominently featuring women who are like her in some way or another. A great lover of horror, thriller and mystery novels, most of her stories have some of her own fears lurking in the margins. When she isn’t willing imaginary people into existence, she’s ...more