This week I read two very different, but equally amazing books: the first in a dystopian trilogy and a standalone fantasy/magical realism. I ignored M for days while I read. And I’m not sorry about it. These books were So. Damn. Good.
Aria has lived her whole life in the protected dome of Reverie. Her entire world confined to its spaces, she’s never thought to dream of what lies beyond its doors. So when her mother goes missing, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland long enough to find her are slim.
Then Aria meets an outsider named Perry. He’s searching for someone too. He’s also wild – a savage – but might be her best hope at staying alive.
If they can survive, they are each other’s best hope for finding answers.
I’m not really a big fan of space stories (though there are a few exceptions like Firefly, Futurama and the Across the Universe series by Beth Revis), so I’ve avoided Under the Never Sky for a while despite all of the great word of mouth support I’ve heard for it. And I’m so sorry I waited this long. There are some characters that are so memorable, so alive, that they are impossible to forget. Aria and Perry are definitely those kinds of characters. Even if the story hadn’t kept me on the edge of my seat (and up way past my bedtime), I would’ve loved it just because of the connection between these two. With Perry’s heightened senses and Aria’s rapid adjustment to living outside of Reverie, the intensity between these two even when they weren’t touching was palpable. And then when they did touch, oh, wow. Such a great love story that has me looking at every little thing as a sign that they will find a way to be together despite the odds.
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.
Strange Sweet Song is I-got-so-caught-up-in-reading-I-forgot-to-eat-dinner good. Despite some initial confusion about what the Felix was and how the additional POV stories fit in with Sing’s, this book was captivating and magical and gorgeous from beginning to end. (I quickly got over my confusion and loved having the other characters snippets float throughout the story adding a very rich backstory and sidestory.) The writing is so vivid I could see and hear every character, every scene like I was right in the middle of it. (Not an easy feat when the story is about a magical beast and a fictional operatic music school with an ageless crow-turned man). There were times when Sing’s diva attitude made me want to shake her like her friends, but as it was a major part of her journey, it was completely necessary. Then there was Nathan who captivated my attention (and heart) almost from the first scene he was in, when all he did was give Sing a look. And the ending was pure magic. I seriously loved everything about this book.
I received an ARC of this book for an honest review (thank you, Macmillan and NetGalley!) and will definitely be purchasing it because I need this book in my life and on my shelf.