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Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield
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First I have to say that I adore this cover. It’s stunning! Secondly, I thought I knew what kind of magic this book would be talking about, and I was wrong. But wrong in a good way, because this was so much better than what I went in thinking.

I love Lucy. Her innocence is so sweet, and she only wants to try to help free the kingdom the Lord Protector. I think she was naive is some parts thinking she could use her magic on others without their permission. She begins to realize that she shouldn’t do that. It’s fun watching her interact with people because she’s been isolated for most of her life, and is pretty awkward. The secondary characters were done well, also. I love Nat. He’s cautious, and isn’t sure how he feels about magic. Penebrygg is so sweet, and Lady Helaine is crazy. Well, maybe not crazy, but drives you nuts because she’s so pushy.

Chantress starts off pretty slow, but events pick up pretty quickly. She’s constantly on the run, and trying to hide. I like that there was a bit of history mixed into the story to make it more real. We also see how awful, and enchanted, people can get when it comes to power and magic.

I enjoyed Chantress, and hope the next one is just as good. ( )
  BookishThings | Mar 23, 2016 |
I was lucky enough to read an early copy of this and truly enjoyed it. I am a sucker for magic that relates to music, and I love how detailed the Chantress magic is, and I am intrigued by the mysteries left to explore. This wrapped up with a satisfying ending, but I am eager to see what will come in the sequel!
  devafagan | Jan 2, 2015 |
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.

The story opens with young Lucy living virtually alone on an island. It would seem that she has lived here her entire life. But why you ask? Well to protect her from danger of course! Her mother put her here for her protection, telling her to never remove her pendant, but not why. And then of course mom disappears, leaving Lucy lost and confused, and certainly unaware of the risk she takes by removing said pendant.

Immediately upon removing the pendant she hears music, and automatically sings in response. Her song transports her almost directly into the hands of the Lord Protector, no place any Chantress ever wants to be, even one who doesn't know that she is a Chantress. For the evil Lord Protector has done his best to eliminate Chantresses, women who sing magic, as only a Chantress can destroy him. Now she must hide, and try to learn a lifetime's worth of spells to protect herself, all the while the Lord Protector searches all London for her.

Personally I found this book to be lacking in the plot department. Aside from a slow and somewhat tepid romance with Nat, very little seems to happen, especially in the middle of the book. Sure, Lucy is learning to use her powers and her character grows as part of the process, but I don't think any of us needed the process to last for more than one hundred pages. It would have been nice if some of that time had been devoted to giving us more of the Invisible College and it's members.

What action there was came and went so quickly that it was difficult to find myself invested in the results. Part of the problem was the lack of a strong villain - we are told how wicked and terrible he is, when we should have been shown. And while the characters were interesting, at least what parts we saw, they felt a bit out of step with the time period for me. The characters came across as being a bit too modern for the era they live in.

Also, the creative license taken with the historical era and the strong leanings towards fantasy made the book come across as conflicted. It seemed as if it wanted to be historical fiction sometimes and fantasy at others, ending up leaving both its characters and readers confused. I'd have preferred if the author had just picked one genre and stuck with it throughout.

With all that said, I did still enjoy the book as a whole. It was creative and felt fresh, which was a nice change of pace from several books I had read in the same period of time. And upon finishing I learned that is just the first book in a series, so hopefully all that lengthy, careful, world-building will payoff in future books. ( )
  Isisunit | Jan 21, 2014 |
This review and more can be found at www.popcrunchboom.com!

The beginning of the book drew me in more than most books. Lucy was shipwrecked on this island with only her guardian Norrie. As Lucy grew up she knew only the life she had lived with Norrie on the island and that meant absolutely no singing. But as the days grow closer to All Hallows Eve the year Lucy is 15, she begins to hear voices singing when she is outside. The intense desire to sing is too strong for Lucy and her curiosity combined lead to a life-changing occurrence when Lucy opens her mouth and sings. Instantly she is thrown into an unfamiliar world and is fortunately found by Nat, an apprentice and member of the Invisible College. With his help and the guidance of the Invisible College, Lucy learns about her ability as a Chantress, her power to overthrow the evil Lord Protector, and the strength that lies within her.

Greenfield did a great job of introducing a unique story into the Young Adult fantasy genre. I enjoyed her take on magic and the story arc of Lucy. Although the overall story seems similar to other novels in the sense that one girl has the power to "save the world" from evil, the specific story of Lucy was entertaining. The idea of singing as a form of magic isn't unique when looking through history, but the way Greenfield presented it in this story made it seem fresh. I know that I haven't read anything recently with this type of magical power and it was refreshing to experience a new thing on the fantasy market.

What made this story really work was the setting. Having Lucy's story take place in the late 1600s really made the story believable as a reader and really matched the form of magical power she chose for Lucy. This setting was a prime time for the rise of science and the condemnation of anything "witch-like," "unexplainable," or paranormal." This made the secondary characters' actions believable as well.

What I really loved about the book was the slow relationship build between Nat and Lucy. For a good number of books, the attraction is instantaneous and the relationship (or chemistry) builds fast. But with Chantress the relationship grew slowly. It wasn't a so-slow-I-don't-think-it-will-ever-happen kind of slow, but an easy, natural, more like real life kind of slow. Nat wasn't trusting of Lucy and her powers and Lucy didn't trust Nat and his ties with the Invisible College. Both characters grew in trust and eventually into like. Since this is the first book, the relationship is still building and I can't wait to see it develop more in the following novel.

Another thing I really liked about Chantress was one of the villains. Lord Protector, the main villain, was a typical "I want to rule the world" kind of villain that needed a reality check. But the Shadowgrims were what impressed me. I loved new creatures because I love how the authors had such a great imagination to invent them. The Shadowgrims reminded me of the flying-monkeys in The Wizard of Oz as well as the dementors from Harry Potter. Shadowgrims are ravens that can read your minds. They have a certain way of torturing you until your mind tells them everything they want to know.

"'And attack they do,' Penebrygg said. 'But not with beaks and talons. They brush their feathers against your skin feeding on your thoughts as they once fed on carrion and flesh. Their touch is like fire, scorching and searing you. The terror scalds your very soul. And as you burn, the Shadowgrims pick at your mind, stripping away thoughts they later share with Scargrave'" (p.64).

Readers do get to see this in action too. I know the above passage is more tell versus show like readers like to see, but I like the description all the same. I'm sure it scared Lucy just as much as it intrigued me.

That leads me into my few faults with the story. There was some more tell versus show then I would have liked to have seen within the novel. This brought the pace of the story down. I know it's really hard to show instead of telling as a writer. It's something I struggle with myself, so I can sympathize. Hopefully Greenfield with clean this up in the second book with more action now that Lucy is a more developed character.

The middle of the book was also a little slow while building up for all the action at the end. It focused a lot on her trying to gain control of her powers while the Invisible College continued to learn more about the right time to take down the Lord Protector. Although this was the slowest part of the book, it was also the part where we saw more glimpses of the Nat and Lucy relationship development. The characters interacted more together alone and were able to blossom as a love interest.

Overall, the novel was an interesting read. If you like YA fantasy with some romance I would definitely recommend the book to you. I have high hopes for the second book to continue the story. I can't wait to see what direction she takes it in and what challenges will arise for Lucy. Will Lucy and Nat's relationship build more? Are there any more chantresses out there? ( )
  PCB2NLS | Jan 7, 2014 |
((This review can also be found on my blog Underneath the Books))

I'd like to start off by saying that I've never been a fan of historical novels. I'd pick one up and never get as close as to finishing it. This genre just wasn't intriguing for me - especially when most of them dealt with subjects I never cared enough about. But fantasy novel put in 1600s? Yes, I'll take that. And let me tell you, I wasn't disappointed. What I do not understand though, is that it took me more than a month to finish it. Usually, I read books I don't like for this long. Maybe it was the fact that I'd always find another book to read that sounded more intriguing than this one, especially when it's slow-paced at the beginning and I had a hard time concentrating enough to get through all phrases I wasn't used to and the slowness of the book in general. However, that slowness wasn't particularly bad for me. In fact, I felt as it was necessary. In my opinion, if an author put more action in the middle, this book would lose its purpose. Everything was built the way it should've been - MC finding out she's not your usual teenage girl, MC finding herself in another place, MC learning about herself, MC training, and then a finale. I did notice that a lot of readers complain about it, but I thought it was well built and well planned.

The romance in this book is one of my favourite parts. In fact, there almost isn't any until about 70% of a book. As well as the book, it wasn't rushed, it wasn't unnatural, it wasn't sappy and corny as hell (which I'd really grown to hate), but it was just the way it was supposed to be - sweet enough, almost your every day teenage love (though not really, but as natural as the real "I'm in love" can get).

Lucy wasn't annoying. I'd even say she was very entertaining character to get to know and to listen to. She had her fears, she had her doubts, and she had her bravery not a lot of characters have in these-days novels. Actually, I don't think I was annoyed by any character all that much. All of them were likable enough and even though there were moments where some of the characters irked me, I could not hate them. None of them are truly evil, except for one, though I think even he has a good side in himself, just like all of us. They were all complex and very well thought of. In conclusion, characters were the ones that made this novel even better.

All things considered, this book was enjoyable, though slow-paced and a bit hard to get through at time. It's one of the better I read this year, that's for sure, and it made me want to read more historical novels. I think I'll give them more chance from now on. However, this is definitely not a book for everyone - some will like it, some will hate it, some will find it boring. I liked it and I'm looking forward to reading its sequel. ( )
  countingscripts | Sep 23, 2013 |
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A dangerous disease requires a desperate remedy.

--attributed to Guy Fawkes (1570-1606)
[a. OF. chatresse, fem. of chantere, -eor, singer: see CHANTER and -ESS.]
1.female magician, sorceress, enchantress.2.A female
chanter or singer; a singing woman; a songstress.

--Oxford English Dictionary
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I was digging in the garden when I heard it: a strange, wild singing on the wind.
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"Fifteen-year-old Lucy discovers that she is a chantress who can perform magic by singing, and the only one who can save England from the control of the dangerous Lord Protector"--Provided by publisher.

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