Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Review: Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield


Author: Amy Butler Greenfield
Release: May 7th 2013
Genre: Historical, Magic, Witches, YA
#1 in the Chantress trilogy
Sequels: Chantress Alchemy (#2), Chantress Fury (#3)


“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.


This book is one convenient plot line after the other. Convenient, convenient, convenient — and also unbelievable. Lucy is a Chantress, which means she can sing magical songs. Songs that can do magic. Which in and of itself seemed pretty abstract and kind of cool at first, but over the course of the novel evolved into something more absurd and ridiculous.

However, Lucy wears a stone on a chain around her neck, a stone that has always protected her from the songs around her her whole life and prevented her from using her Chantress song magic, which she didn't even know she had. She only knew she was forbidden from singing, ever. On top of that, she lives on a deserted island somewhere in the middle of nowhere with no one for company except for her guardian Norrie, an elderly woman who, as far as I can tell, is no blood relation to her, but hell if I know because we're never explicitly told about their true relationship with one another. Oh, and they have been on that island for seven years. All alone. Seems very lonely and boring without the Internet. Because we're also in the 17th century.

Then, one day on Halloween, or if you wanna be fancy All Hallows' Eve, she can't help but hear and be mesmerized by these snippets of song drifting on the wind. She quickly sings along, despite having been warned her whole life by the only person she's ever truly known and trusted, never to sing, because "the darkness will find her." She magicks them back into London, but loses her guardian in the process and ends up in the villain's lair. By sheer convenient luck, she manages to hide in the curtains and evade notice, where she conveniently witnesses another person who shouldn't be there, being there. This guy conveniently knows a secret passageway that leads out of the manor, and then he has a mule cart ready to leave the estate, which Lucy can conveniently slip in and leave in, too. She conveniently also escapes the notice of the watchmen searching the cart, and then when discovered, is conveniently discovered by a kindly old man who means her no harm and instead, takes her in and protects her. After discovering that she is, in fact, a Chantress two seconds flat after meeting her. I should probably mention at this point that Chantresses are hunted and burned in this day and age, so basically, the Chantresses are this world's witches. 

This man, along with the guy on the cart, is conveniently part of the resistance of this villain's reign of terror, and Lucy is conveniently the only soul alive who could possibly stop him with her magic. After a few days, she is conveniently found by her godmother, whom she's never really met before, who also has her lost guardian in tow. Now, see, through mysterious and fishy reasons, her godmother has conveniently lost her own powers, so while she won't pose a threat to Lucy's special snowflake status of being the only hope, she can still conveniently act as her tutor and teacher in the arts of magic. 

And so the story goes on and on. You know, sometimes I wonder why there aren't some heroines who have convenient knowledge, like if I ever were to become a YA heroine and were trapped in a coffin, thanks to my endless curiosity and ability to browse the Internet, I'd conveniently know exactly how to get myself out. Or if I were to be kidnapped in the trunk of a car. (Hint: Smash the tail lights and stick your feet and hands out.) However, if your whole entire plot regularly depends on convenient events happening, that are too good to be true, then that is simply unimaginable. There is no struggle, no danger until the very, very end climax because Lucy just has an endless stream of luck. She even beats the villain out of sheer convenient luck!

Aside from that, this novel suffers from a hearty dose of meh. The characters, the setting, the plot idea itself, the relationships... they're all not bad, but they're not particularly good or well developed, either. They're stuck in the mediocre middle. 

All in all, for reasons beyond me I did nevertheless end up enjoying and liking the novel. Lucy's romance with Nat seemed very insta-love-y at first, but it moves pretty slowly and I have little problem with insta-attraction. They only kiss on the very last page and so during the novel I admit I kind of took a liking to their budding romance. It was cutesy enough. And while I feared there'd be a love triangle involving the young King Henry, there was none, for which I was all the more grateful (just watch it happen in the sequel now that I've said this). Anyway, once I finally got into it, it was a quick and light read, nice and entertaining. I might read the sequel if I can get my hands on it, although I don't quite see the reason behind this being a trilogy, since this book wraps everything up satisfactorily. Still, we'll see.

PS: This was probably the ultimate, most shameless cover buy ever. I didn't even check to see what it was about before I bought it. And then they went and did a fucking cover change for the third and final book. I am so mad I could tear a tree apart. 

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