Chantress (Chantress Trilogy #1) by Amy Butler Greenfield
YA fantasy*Hardcover/eBook, 336 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Margaret K. McElderry Books
Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful — and most hunted — girl in England.
“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted fifteen-year-old Lucy ever since she was eight and shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots of rules, but the most important is that Lucy must never sing. Not ever. Now it is 1667, Lucy is fifteen, and on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing — and she is swept into darkness.
When she awakes in England, Lucy hears powerful men discussing Chantresses — women who can sing magic into the world. They are hunting her, but she escapes and finds sanctuary with the Invisible College, an organization plotting to overthrow the nefarious Lord Protector. The only person powerful enough to bring about his downfall is a Chantress. And Lucy is the last one in England.
Lucy struggles to master the song-spells and harness her power, but the Lord Protector is moving quickly. And her feelings for Nat, an Invisible College apprentice and scientist who deeply distrusts her magic, only add to her confusion…
Time is running out, and the fate of England hangs in the balance in this entrancing novel that is atmospheric and lyrical, dangerous and romantic.
Sing and the darkness will find you.
We were still dripping from the shipwreck when Norrie first told me this. She had repeated it often since then, but there was no need. The terror in her eyes that first time had silenced me immediately--that and my own grief, so deep I was drowning in it. The sea had taken my mother and had almost taken me. That was enough darkness to last me a lifetime; I had no desire to court more.
I touched my hand to my stone. Was I being kept inside because of superstition--or something more?
The wind howled at the cracks in the window, making the candle dance. My mother's letter fluttered in my hand, and I thought I caught the whisper of a tune.
This is it. This is your chance to go home. Be bold, and take it.
It was left to Penebrygg to give me a proper answer. "In the beginning, they were ravens, a type bred by the Ravendon family since ancient times, and which Scargrave brought with him to the Tower of London: clever black birds, large as a man's head, with mocking eyes and dagger-sharp beaks." He paused and added softly. "But now they are something else entirely, and all because of the Chantress's song."
"If harm is done by a Chantress song, only a Chantress can right the wrong."
Sing and the darkness will find you.
Desolation swept over me. But through my grief and bewilderment, I could sense something else growing in me, something alive, something stronger than fear: a burning and angry resolve.
My hands fell away. I looked at Nat and Penebrygg full in the face.
"If you want my help, you have it."
About the Author
Amy Butler Greenfield
Amy Butler Greenfield was a grad student in history when she gave into temptation and became a writer. Since then, she has become an award-winning author.
Born in Philadelphia, Amy grew up in the Adirondack Mountains and later studied history at Williams College, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Oxford. She now lives with her family in England, where she writes, bakes double-dark-chocolate cake, and plots mischief.
When it comes to enjoying fantasy, the "believable" factor is very important to me. If I don't believe the world is real, the all-important missing fantastical component will dampen my reading experience. Author Amy Butler Greenfield has created a dark and dreary London of the 1660's, a place filled with horrific nocturnal raven-like creatures called Shadowgrims, special females with the abilities to sing spells, and a man bent on destroying anything or anyone magical in the name of protecting the King while satisfying his zealous need for revenge. And the author is quite successful in making all of this magnificently alive and believable in Chantress, the first book in this trilogy.
From the opening scene, I found the concept of a Chantress enthralling as a young girl named Lucy hears singing on the wind. Imagine a world without music, song or singing? This is Lucy's world and when she reaches London, learns this place is the same. Taken in by two men who are part of a growing rebellion, more and more is revealed to Lucy about the new London, the child King Henry, and the man running the government from behind the throne, Scargrave. The pacing was just right, taking me from scene to scene smoothly as the plot and conflict is revealed. Lucy also wants revenge for her mother but she must first learn how to be a Chantress. When she connects with Scargrave for the first time, the scene was creepy and cool, the rustling of wings heightened the horror.
There is a rich cast of secondary characters from the fatherly protector Penebrygg to the distant Nat, the Invisible College crew, Norrie and Lucy's godmother, and I can't forget the dark and deadly Scargrave. The setting of centuries old London gave the story a rich historical feel. Lucy is a likable character, full of wonderment and a touch rebellious as she embarks on a journey to find out who she is and what she can truly do. Watching her grow from meek to confident was part of her charm. I so wanted to learn and see more of the antagonist Scargrave and his Shadowgrims but I think the next book should have what I want.
Overall, Chantress is an engaging light fantasy. I'm still intrigued by the premise of what a Chantress is and thank the author for expanding my repertoire of beguiling fantasy characters. Recommended.
I like the cover with a hooded Lucy holding her ruby necklace. The font and scrolling root-like lines do take away from the picture with their size.