Book Review of Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

Posted May 20, 2013 by Kara in Kara / 24 Comments

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry
Release Date: May 7th, 2013
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult-Historical fantasy
Series: Chantress Trilogy #1
Source: Edelweiss

Description from GoodreadsLucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England.

“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.

It took until nearly the end of this book (80% in actually) for any major plot events to happen. Up until that point, it was a lot of exposition, magic training, character development, and what I felt were a lot of repetitive scenes which actually contributed very little to this book. I think Chantress could have been about a hundred pages shorter. Honestly. It clocks in at 336 pages, and truthfully, I think a little over 200 pages would have been fine. I don’t mind books that don’t completely focus on plot–heck I read a lot of character-driven novels–but this book was pretty boring. A lot of my blogger friends put it down and moved on to something else due to boredom. I pushed on because I wanted to see if it got better and if all of that zzzzzzz stuff was worth it. And…

It was. Sort of.

I can’t talk about much because of spoilers, but the last 20% was pretty exciting. For those who are keeping track, that’s about 67 pages. Out of 336. Even though they were exciting and riveting, I don’t know if it’s worth it for that small amount of the book. 

There are good things though. I think most readers will appreciate the relationship in this novel. There is no love triangle, no insta-love. It takes the entire book for the relationship to build, and not until the very end does something actually happen. But that’s kind of the thing with this book. Nothing seems to happen until the end. 

Nat’s annoying at the beginning. He really is. It gets better though because he has a decent character arc. I don’t mind when characters are annoying and mean if there is justification for the way they feel. It was explained why he was so anti-magic eventually, but I didn’t buy the explanation. To me there wasn’t enough of a reason. I liked Lucy though. She was the type of protagonist I like in my novels. Strong, determined, but not perfect. The rest of the characters were interesting as well. There is a little bit of everything here but some of them felt like the typical characters you would find in a fantasy novel.

So. The story itself. I liked it. This was truly a compelling premise and as far as fantasy goes, it wasn’t something I had seen before. Chantresses are singing magicians. They can create magic through song. And I thought it was very cool. The object on the cover is a giant ruby, by the way. I know some people were wondering. Unfortunately for singing magicians, the magic part of the story itself doesn’t make for a very compelling plot. Which is sad because I truly thought it would work. But it’s just not explained well. The training scenes are just a bunch of vocal lessons. It was all very meh. 

I should also mention that this IS a historical novel and the author did quite a bit of research. Aside from the fantasy part, that is. But…it didn’t feel very historical. It almost felt high fantasy. Depending on the reader, that could be a good thing or a bad thing. For me, I wanted to feel the historical part of it. And it’s not really there at all. Other than beling TOLD the book was set in London, I would never have known. It could have easily been set in an alternate universe. 

The one thing that did affect me was the Shadowgrims. And this is why I stated if you have Ornithophobia you should probably not read this book. The birds in this book are the freakiest birds I have ever had the displeasure of reading about. They steal souls and flap their wings and claw at them and UGH. And I LIKE birds. When Chantresses are around Shadowgrims they actually start to feel a burning sensation, and the closer the bird is, the hotter it gets. NO, thank you. Thing is though, I love being creeped out. So that part of the story worked for me. But if you are afraid of birds, I wouldn’t do it. This is your warning. It’s not particularly graphic, but it did make me shiver.

I haven’t decided if I will read the next one or not, but right now I am leaning towards not. It just didn’t do enough for me as a book. I liked it enough, but I don’t think I was engaged  enough to continue on to the next one. I bet the next book will be much better with so much exposition out of the way, but with so many other books out there that might be spectacular reads for me, I just don’t think I will have the time or that much desire to do so. I sort of recommend this. But it depends on what you like in your books. I’m on the fence about everything that has to do with this book.

3/5 Dragons

24 responses to “Book Review of Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield

  1. That’s a shame, because the premise actually sounds really interesting. Magic that’s conjured by singing? The potential is endless. I don’t know, maybe this had moved a little faster if it had been the concept of a standalone? Anyway, great review!

  2. Interesting…I have this book on my Kindle from Edelweiss, obviously I should have read it by now:( I have heard similar remarks from other bloggers, now I’m curious to see if I agree with them. Hopefully you will enjoy your next book more!

  3. Amy

    This sounded really interesting, but so far the reviews from people have been very meh. I didn’t get this one for review since I didn’t have time, and now I am glad. I think I would have liked it, but not loved it so better to have not read it I guess. And one less series that I am wrapped up in too.

    • Right? There are upsides to everything. Being not behind is definitely one of them. And that was pretty much me. Like but not love. I don’t even think I will continue the series. There are so many and I need to only continue ones I love.

  4. I might give this book a chance — sometimes I genuinely like the books that seem to bore everyone else and if it’s worth a long way to a cool ending, then yeah I am down for that. IDK though, I’ve a huge TBR and all.

  5. This book sounds interesting. But it sounds interesting in a way in which I know I won’t like it. I feel like sometimes I can spot these books from miles away – they look good on the surface but years of reading crappy urban fantasy/paranormal romance have taught you that the execution will be poor.

    I’m sorry this didn’t work out for you Kara. It’s a shame 🙁

  6. I find myself thinking the same thing sometimes, that certain books would be so much better if x amount of pages would be cut out of it–but this book is already pretty short, so that’s not a good sign at all! I think the premise sounds so interesting so I may pick it up on a rainy day, though. Thanks for your honest review.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

    • Definitely not a good sign. There just isn’t much plot there, unfortunately. It’s a perfect rainy day read cuz if you don’t like it you can just pick something else up instead.

  7. Those birds sound totally creepy. I am happy to see that the romance is pretty slow growing in this one but it’s too bad that more of it didn’t work for you. I think I would definitely be bored with this one, so I am happy that I have been staying away from it.

  8. I don’t have the patience to stick it out with this one. I think it has a fascinating premise, but I know I wouldn’t be able to stay with it long enough to enjoy it. Great review, Kara!

  9. Hmm. I did enjoy historical fiction that reads like historical fiction, so that would be a drawback to picking this up. No love triangle and slow-build romance are nice aspects, but not if the book itself is boring. And I feel like most reviews have complained that this is a bit long-winded (with a few exceptions). I’m thinking this will be a library grab in the end!

    • It was a drawback for me to. The historical part was really missing except for a few references. Yeah, long winded is a great way to describe this one. Good idea to grab this one at the library.

  10. This sounds like an interesting book! Magical singing wizards? yes please. I can deal with a barely there plot as long as the characters are good. And the fact that the romance takes time have none of those annoying tropes just make it all the more inviting. Lovely review, Kara!

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