First Lines: I am a shadow. A shimmer of black satin. A wraith in the dark.
Sorry I haven’t been updating much lately. There was a death in the family on the day my last post went live and I’ve been trying to adjust since then and find a return to normal. It’s been a process. It’s actually kind of ironic, in that case, that this is the book I’m reviewing first, given its emphasis on memory.
Isla was born with a rare power, one that people fear so much she was supposed to have been killed at birth. When people sings, Isla can manipulate memories. Saved at a young age from death by opera house owner Cyril, she’s lived in the opulent opera house ever since. All he asks is that she uses her powers to keep ticket sales high–and that she stays out of sight. Even now, if she’s seen, it means death for her and her protector. But then she meets Emeric, whose voice is unlike anything she’s ever heard before. She’s drawn to the charming boy whose memories hint at ways she can finally be free. As Isda spends more time with Emeric, she becomes more hopeful about gaining her freedom. But the price of freedom will be higher than she ever could have anticipated…
From the moment I read the blurb, I thought this sounded vaguely like The Phantom of the Opera, a thought that was only confirmed as I read the book. And as a fan of that story, I truly wanted to enjoy this.
And in a lot of ways, I did. I loved the way music was incorporated into the story. I loved the setting (a French-esque fantasy world where memories are currency, so memory is valued above all else). I even liked Isda and her internal conflict of what makes a person a monster. (Ok, let me rephrase my earlier Phantom comment. It’s Phantom mixed with Hunchback. Both set in France, both dealing with deformities, both confining the tragic figure in a place of music and culture, ALL LIKE THIS BOOK.)
For the first half or two thirds of the book, I would have given this a 4 rating. Yes, there were moments of predictability. Yes, there were moments where it was hard to really get a handle on some of the world building. (It’s a relatively short book for a fantasy novel. Things happen quickly with little exposition.) But I generally liked it. It was the last bit of the book that sort of ruined the experience for me. Not that it was bad, exactly. It has honest and probably true to the characters if I’m being honest. It just wasn’t how I wanted things to go. It felt like it dove too far into melodrama and clichés to me. But it did feel like how some of the characters would react, so what can you do?
For a debut fantasy novel, this was really good, even if I didn’t totally buy into the ending. This is definitely an author to watch.