Monday, December 2, 2013

Killing Me Softly

Published:  May 7th, 2013
Chantress (Chantress Trilogy #1)
By: Amy Butler Greenfield
Margaret K. McElderry
ISBN-13:  9781442457034

Lucy, shipwrecked on an island at 8, is forbidden to sing by guardian Norrie. On All Hallows Eve 1667, at 15, she sings, and is swept into darkness. She wakes to hear powerful men hunt Chantresses who sing magic into the world. At the Invisible College she finds sanctuary, plots to overthrow the evil Lord Protector, and distrustful scientist-apprentice Nat. Only a Chantress can overcome the Protector, and Lucy is the last in England.


     When Lucy was a small child, she and her Mother went on the run from people hunting their kind.  Lucy was sent to a secluded island, with only her nanny Norrie for company, to protect her.  Now that she is fifteen years old Lucy longs to see other places and meet new people.  Also, she'd like to know what became of her Mother, who she hasn't seen in seven years.  Lucy has been told one thing above all else in her time on the island - not to sing ever, no matter what happens.  The temptation proves too much and after singing on All Hallow's Eve, she finds herself back in England in the middle of a hostile environment.  It turns out that Lucy is the last of the Chantresses and it prophesied to save England from Lord Scargrave and his awful monsters called Shadowgrims.  With the help of a group of intellectuals who have dubbed themselves the Invisible College, and a mysterious, magic-hating apprentice named Nat, Lucy might be able to fulfill her destiny.  But can she stay alive long enough to infiltrate and conquer the evil threatening them all?
     I liked this book a lot.  That is the thing I need to tell all of you first, before I start pointing out the things that bothered me.  It's one of the better historical fiction books that I've read in quite awhile and I really enjoyed how well researched it was.  I may just be a complete nerd, but the historical notes on what was real and what wasn't totally enhanced my reading experience.  I like knowing the origins of things!  That said, let's get down to the nitty gritty of the book itself.  Some series books have the extraordinary power to make you forget they aren't standalone, and build their own complex story just in one part of the series - this isn't one of those books.  The whole thing is pretty mush setup for the rest of the series.  We are introduced to Lucy, Nat, Lord Scargrave, Pennybrygge (the scientist Nat is apprenticed to), Norrie and Lucy's mysterious Godmother.  There is a lot of character development, but Nat's past is pretty shrouded in mystery still.  Throughout the book, Lucy and Nat built a friendship out of initial dislike and distrust (her of his motives, him of her magic) and the tenative beginnings of romance were visible at the end.  Praise be to Ms. Greenfield for staying FAR away from the insta-love trope!  What a relief to not have that be a factor.
     Whereas a lot of the reviews that I've read about this book seem to complain about the lack of action, I feel like the world-building and character strength made up for it in spades.  I don't mind being without consistent periods of action in a book, but the plot needs to make me think a little harder and the good versus evil dynamic has to be awesome.  I felt like with the difference between Wild and Proven Magics, the Shadowgrims existence ( the supernatural elements in general), etc. that it should have been slightly more pulse pounding of a final confrontation.  The 'defeat' of Lord Scargrave was too easy and the whole thing felt really anticlimactic.  Overall, there was a lot to love about this book and I will definitely be reading the next one to get answers to the questions I still have from this one.  But beware, if slow paced novels that are chock full to the brim with detailed world-building and little action aren't your thing, you might want to avoid this one.

VERDICT:  4/5  Stars

**No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book is now available in stores, online, or maybe even at your local library.**


  1. I had my eye on this book a few months ago but never picked it up. The fact that it is well-researched and detailed is a huge plus, so I'll give it a try, maybe when the sequel comes out. Very helpful review :)

  2. Thank you! I really enjoy alternate histories, when they're done right, and Greenfield definitely put a lot of effort and research into it.


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