Stefan's Reviews > Singer of Souls

Singer of Souls by Adam Stemple
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's review
Mar 27, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, library-loan
Read in March, 2008

"Singer of Souls" is a wonderful little fantasy novel, especially taking into account that this is the author's first adult novel (he collaborated with his mother, author Jane Yolen, on children's music books). The story follows Douglas, a Minneapolis street musician who is addicted to heroin. Trying to get clean, he decides to go to Scotland (where his grandmother lives) to try and make a fresh start. He makes a living there as a street performer. His street act involves improvising lyrics about passers-by, creating a song about them on the fly. When performing in Edinburgh, one of the fey folk approaches him, and so Douglas discovers he has special powers.
I was very pleasantly surprised by this novel. It's well-written, quirky, fast-moving, never boring. At 240 pages, it's short but satisfying. Before reading it, I got a strong Steven Brust vibe from the book, based on the short plot summary --- and oddly enough, I just discovered that the author was actually the guitar player in Cats Laughing, a band with Steven Brust. How weird!
Anyway, I strongly recommend this one. Word of warning: the ending is very controversial. Reading some reviews, it seems like some people loved the book, and some people loved it up until the last 20 pages or so, and hated it afterwards. As far as I'm concerned, the ending is justified and makes absolute perfect sense, based on what happened to the protagonist earlier. One reviewer on Amazon summarized it perfectly: "There are two things you should know about this novel. 1. It's a faery tale. 2. It's not a Disney faery tale."
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