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A young soprano enrolls in a remote music academy where nothing, not even her mysterious young vocal coach, is as it seems.
Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right.
Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school's production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary?
Sing must work with the mysterious Apprentice Nathan Daysmoor as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But Nathan has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.
Lyrical, gothic, and magical, Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule will captivate and enchant readers.
Read the first two chapters here!
My thoughts on the book:
It is very rare that I read a book that sweeps me away into its world and touches my very soul with its story. Strange Sweet Song is one of those rare books. This is one of the most beautiful stories I've ever read. Reminiscent of a modern-day Bronte sister, Rule's writing is almost poetic in its beauty. The contemporary Gothic world she created is described in lush detail, and the reader can't help but immerse himself or herself in the lyrical prose.
The characters in this novel are both modern and classic. They have an air about them that most contemporary people don't have, and I think that Dunhammond being set in the middle of nowhere, with technology having to be abandoned due to no internet access or cell phone reception, really helped the gothic feel of this novel. Instead of playing on computers and texting their friends, the characters had to find other ways to entertain themselves. The addition of classical music made this a beautifully haunting Gothic tale.
Sing, whose name I'm not a fan of, is a complex leading character. She is weak at times, and her voice reflects her inner turmoil. It takes her a long time to find her voice and a long time to find herself. In a large way, this story is Sing's coming of age tale. Furthermore, Sing's name has a deeper meaning. She wears it like a command, and feels that she has no choice but to sing how and when people want her to. The depth of her name choice is reminiscent to the great Gothic writers' ability to add layers of meaning to every word they wrote. The other characters each stand on their own as well, and while some are typical (Ryan and Lori, for instance), others are intriguing (Nathan). The mixture of typical and unique character gives the story a sense of reality that many books lack. Even The Felix and Tamino stand out. I, personally, adore Tamino.
Romance takes a backseat in this book, but it is present. The novel really illustrates the different types of love that one person can have. Love for music, love for nature, love for parents, love for oneself, and love for significant others all compete in this book. One of the main questions Strange Sweet Song raises is can one person have everything? Is anyone allowed to have all of their loves, or must everyone sacrifice at least one love for the sake of the others? I think the answer to this problem ends up being a bit ambiguous, and the reader is left to decide for himself or herself.
My favorite thing about Strange Sweet Song is that it makes you think without being too heavy. The story itself is enjoyable, but there are so many questions and deeper meanings woven into the fabric of this tale that one can't help but question his or her own reality while reading this novel. Because of that, along with the lovely prose, wonderful characterization, and captivating world, I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a bit of a change. This is one book that will definitely get you out of any reading slump you're in.
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