Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Review: Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

Title: Chantress
Author: Amy Butler Greenfield
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release Date: 7th May 2013
Source: Pulseit
Rating: 2 out of 5

Description: 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.

Chantress has a very interesting premise comprising of women who work magic through song. When I picked up this historical fiction I thought it had heaps of potential with all necessary parts for a great read.  The book has it all, the slow burning romance, secret organisations, supernatural animals and a unique take on magic.  Unfortunately Chantress fell flat. It had all the elements but when combined the story was unimpressive and a little bit boring.  

Set in the 1600’s, Chantress is about Lucy and her unique ability to work magic through singing.  Shipwrecked on an island with her guardian, Lucy was banned from singing. She was taught that singing would bring darkness. One day she disobeys her guardian Norrie and sings, only to be transported to London. Here she learns about her magic, meets the Invisible College, and plots to overthrow the Lord Protector in order to save London from his corrupted ways.

The plot was very slow placed. The book started off well and ended well but it was the middle that was the most problematic. The middle was lacklustre and dull. Nothing really happened that impacted the story or the characters.However I did like the mythology behind Chatresses. The mythology was tight and well developed and detailed. I enjoyed learning about where Chartresses powers came from. The different kinds of magic and their history/traditions were also well thought out.  The Shadowgrims - creepy supernatural ravens that patrolled the streets of London - were a great addition to the story. They defiantly made their presence know and might have been my favourite part of this book. The secrecy of the Invisible Collage and their exploits was engaging.

The main problem I had with this book was that there was not enough showing and a lot of telling.  There was a lot of exposition and information being divulged. In short there was too much of an info dump. The book was also made up predominantly of dialogue. For me personally there was not enough description about the background, characters or setting.

It also felt that the characters lacked depth.  I would have liked a bit more backstory and character development. Lucy didn’t make much of an impression. I was apathetic towards her. I neither liked her nor hated her. For me she was just too naive and trusting.  She just went along with the events of the story and all the information needed was just given to her. She meets the Invisible College and immediately trusts them with all of her secrets. It also annoyed me that she was very quick to forgive those who betrayed her. She was angry but it only lasted for a millisecond. She also made a lot of mistakes and I felt as if there should have been more remorse for some of her actions, especially in the mind reading department. Lady Helaine was a bit harsh at times. Nat was also a character that was underdeveloped. I did enjoy the romance between Nat and Lucy. It was not an instant connection and developed over time, even though Lucy seemed oblivious to it for the majority of the book.

Overall, Chantress is a book with an interesting premise and an uninteresting story. 

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