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I blew on my icy fingers and faced the wintery sea. I’d been out for hours, honing my magic, and the sun had long since vanished behind sullen clouds. My boots were damp from the froth of the ocean, my cheeks wet with its salty spray. The wind sawed along my very bones. I thought with longing of the snug cottage I shared with Norrie and the soup that would no doubt be simmering on the fire.
Something easy to finish on, I promised myself. Something that won’t go wrong.
Clutching my woolen cape, I tilted my ear toward the ocean and its tangle of watery music. A simple song-spell, that’s all I needed. . . .
But what was that sound? That distant humming?
Forgetting my frozen hands and feet, I listened, perplexed. No one knew better than I that the ocean could sing a thousand songs: music to cradle me, music to drown me, music to call up waves and tides and storms. I was a Chantress, after all. Yet this wasn’t a tune I had heard before. Indeed, its faint thrum was quite unlike any melody I knew. That alone was disturbing.
A woolen bundle clumped toward me: Norrie in her winter wraps. The wind snatched at her hood and cap, and her silver hair stood out like dandelion fluff around her wrinkled face.
“You’ve been out here too long,” she called. “You’ll catch your death of cold.”
I was about to reply when I heard it again: a disquieting drone in the midst of the sea’s other songs.
Norrie marched up to my side, her gait uneven. “Lucy, are you listening to me?”
“Yes,” I said quickly. “Of course I am.” But I was listening to the humming, too. If I concentrated hard enough, I usually could make out at least the gist of the sea’s songs. Of all elements, water was the easiest for me to understand. Yet these notes held fast to their secrets.
“There’s no of course about it.” Norrie scrutinized my face. “Is something wrong?”
“No.” Norrie might be my guardian, but I hated to worry her, especially when I had no clear idea what the trouble was. She wouldn’t be able to hear the song anyway; only a Chantress could do that. “You shouldn’t be out here, Norrie. Not on such a bitter day.”
“Maybe not, but what else can I do when you won’t come home?” Norrie said.
The elusive drone was fading now. I swung back toward the sea, trying to catch its last echoes.
Norrie kept after me. “You’ve been out here since dawn, Lucy. You need to come home now.”
The drone was gone. What did it mean? “Just one more song, Norrie—”
“That’s what you always say. And then you stay out, working till all hours, in all weathers—”
“But that’s why we’re here,” I reminded her. “So I can work.”
Nine months ago, I had freed England from a terrible enchantment, and as a reward King Henry the Ninth had offered me any gift in his possession. To my alarm, he’d talked of building me a palace. What I’d asked for instead was a secret refuge by the sea.
The King, bless him, had abandoned his palace scheme. Norrie and I now lived on a remote part of his estates in Norfolk, in a cottage just big enough for two. Almost no one in the kingdom knew where we were, and the King made sure we were left alone. Although his gamekeepers patrolled the outer limits of the estate, we never saw them. Every month we had supplies of food and fuel delivered to us, and occasionally the King’s messenger came by. But that was all.
“Working’s one thing. Toiling till you’re skin and bone is another.” The wind chafed Norrie’s cheeks, turning them red. “You’re seventeen and nearly grown, so I’ve tried to bite my tongue. But you’re getting worse and worse, Lucy. We came here so you could rest, too. You’ve forgotten that part.”
“I can’t rest yet. Not until I’ve learned more magic.”
“But you already know so much,” Norrie protested.
“I know hardly anything.”
“You knew enough to put an end to Scargrave and those horrible Shadowgrims,” Norrie countered.
“At a cost. Don’t you remember how bad it was when we came here? I had nothing. Not one single song.” My hand went to my heart, where a bloodred stone nestled underneath my woolen scarves. The stone had once allowed me to work the safe song-spells of Proven Magic, but in battling against Scargrave and the Shadowgrims I had shattered its powers. Now the only enchantments open to me were the dangerous ones of Wild Magic.
A fraught path—and I had no one to teach me the way. Among Chantresses, Wild Magic was almost a lost art. Even before Scargrave had worked to destroy my kind, very few could have instructed me in it. Now there was no one. I was the only Chantress still living.
To guide me, I had only a letter my mother had written before her death years ago. Although it was replete with wise advice, it was not nearly as long or as detailed as I needed. Most of the time, I had to rely on my own instincts.
“Yes, that was a bad time,” Norrie agreed. “But look at all you’ve learned since then. You can make the waves come when you call. You can sing water up from the ground. Heavens, child, you can even make it rain when you want to.”
“Only for a minute or two, and only—”
Norrie rolled on, ignoring me. “That’s more magic than most of us can dream of.”
“It’s not enough.”
Norrie looked unconvinced.
How could I explain matters more clearly? My magic made Norrie nervous, so we rarely talked about it, but I could see I’d have to spell things out now.
“I’m good with water, yes—but not with anything else. I can kindle a flame, but I can’t keep it burning. I almost never hear music from stones or earth or wind. I’m no good at making plants grow. Even the sea’s songs don’t always make sense to me. And when they don’t make sense, they’re dangerous. If I sing them, I could do harm to others. I could harm myself.”
My cape snapped in the wind, and I stopped.
Norrie laid a mittened hand on mine. “Child, I know there are dangers, and of course I’m concerned about you. But I’m not sure you make yourself any safer by practicing till you’re worn to a thread.” She gripped my fingers through the wool. “Scargrave’s gone now, Lucy. You’ve won the war. Yet you’re still driving yourself as hard as you did when he was alive. Why not take things a bit easier?”
“And what if I have to defend myself? What do I do then?”
“Why should you need to defend yourself?” Norrie said. “The King would have the head of anyone who hurt you.”
It was true: King Henry had sworn that the old days of Chantress-hunting were over. Nevertheless, I lived in terror that those days would begin again—and that I would not be ready. Night after night I dreamed hunters were coming after me, only to wake up alone in the dark loft, heart shuddering.
I was pushing myself too hard, that’s what Norrie would say. But she was wrong. My nightmares didn’t come from working too hard, but from the terrible truth of my situation. The Chantress line is almost dead. We are hunted; we are prey. So my godmother Lady Helaine had warned me before her own untimely end. To be a Chantress was to face enemies, for the world feared women with power.
“I’m glad the King wants to protect me,” I told Norrie, “but I need to know I can protect myself. And my magic is too weak for that. It has too many holes. So I need to keep working. I need to make myself strong.”
Norrie looked at me with a compassion that tightened my throat. “Oh, Lucy. You’re strong already. Much stronger than you think. Can’t you see?”
She waved me away. “Let’s not argue about it now. You’re turning blue, and I’m not much better. Come home, and we’ll talk about it in front of the fire.”
I’m not cold, I wanted to say. But it wasn’t true. And Norrie’s lips were pinched as if she were in pain. She’s been out here too long, I thought with concern. Her back and hips had been bothering her lately, especially on cold, damp days like this one.
“All right.” I pulled up my hood. “We’ll go home.”
We had only just started trudging up the shore when a sharp gust of wind swirled around us. It blew my hood back, and I heard the ocean humming again in its troubling new way. Had it been quiet all this time? Or had I just been too wrapped up in my wrangle with Norrie to hear it?
Hoping she wouldn’t notice, I trained my attention on the drone, trying to understand it. With patience, I could usually unravel the basic meaning of a song, even if I couldn’t fathom all its subtleties.
This time, though, the tune wouldn’t yield. More, I pleaded.
As if to deny me, the strange song twisted in on itself and coiled into nothingness. But just before it vanished, I heard the meaning at the heart of it:
The word slipped into my head as if the song itself had placed it there. I felt my unease grow.
“Wait here,” I said to Norrie. “I’m just going up to the bluff to have a look about.”
Before she could object, I ran up the steep bank that rose directly behind us. Reaching the crest, I looked up and down the coast, then out to the watery horizon. I saw no warships, no fishing boats, no vessels of any kind. Nothing met my eye but the endless wind-churned waves of the sea.
I turned my head in the other direction, to the rolling hills that sheltered our cottage, and the stretch of the King’s wood beyond them. All was well.
And then, out by the wood, something moved.
A deer? No. A rider. And more behind him.
I sank behind the bluff’s waving grasses and watched them emerge from the wood, one after the other. Half a regiment of mounted men, clad in armor and bearing spears.
Armed men, coming here in such great company?
Holding my breath, I shielded my eyes with a rigid hand as I looked out. They were riding straight for our cottage, the tips of their spears sharp against the gray sky.
Danger, the sea had said. Was this what it meant?
I skidded back down the bluff. “Norrie, quick! We need to run.”
Posted April 28, 2015
CHANTRESS ALCHEMY was a beautifully crafted, and a utterly amazing read, that I was absolutely pleased with on so many angles.
Amy Butler Greenfield breathes a breath of fresh air in this brilliantly original historical high fantasy world, of magic, music, power, lies, deception, and a sweet romance that is sure to leave you craving more!
Lucy is the last Chantress left, and with it comes the heavy burden she must bear in order to save England with her magic within. Lucy's newly developed power pulses and releases through her songs, aiming towards the hidden evil threatening to overtake what she once saved with her magic through her singing. But what she faces may prove to be far greater then any power she possess...
It's been almost a year since Lucy battled and defeated Lord Scargrave. Lucy thought the worst was over, but how wrong she was. It was just the beginning, and it's about to get worse! There's an evil hiding within the shadows, biding their time, and striking where it hurts worse, Lucy's magic...
Lucy has been filling her days with becoming one with her magic. Trying to understand the full depth in which her magic flows, when she gets the disturbing news. England has fallen under chaos and despair. Problems are arising around every turn. The king and the council has ideas on how to fix their ongoing problems in England. Their plan is to create gold from The Philosopher's Stone and the Gold Crucible. But just when they thought it couldn't get any worse, they realize the unthinkable, the crucible has been stolen, and Lucy is the only one that can get it back.
Lucy once again is need to use her magic. She is charged with locating the Crucible and discovering who was behind it. But as Lucy sets out to uncover the truth, she discovers that secrets and lies are around every corner, and not everything or everyone is as it seems!! Their is a darkness waiting, lurking, and ultimately ready to strike, and Lucy might of just met her match!
CHANTRESS ALCHEMY was an amazing second book. It did not in any way suffer from "The middle book syndrome" one bit. This book had me second guessing most, if not all of the twist, and the action and adventure kept me on my toes, While falling in love with the romance once again.
If you've read CHANTRESS, then you definitely need to read this book, because I have feeling you will NOT be disappointment. And if you haven't read the CHANTRESS, then wow, you are SOOO missing out on an EPIC series!!
NOTE: I received an eARC from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced in any way!
Posted May 12, 2014
The Way Ria See's It
I have been waiting for this book for quite some time!! Again Ms. Butler picks the worlds most beautiful cover!! Three Cheers…Now for the part I wish I could avoid, I fear Chantress Alchemy suffered a bit of a sophomore slump for me.
:( Not enough for me to stop reading it or dislike it in anyway…Its just…well I wanted more ya know?! I fell in absolute LOVE with Chantresses and their powers and the lore. Lucy’s battle in the last leaves her without “proven” magic and she has to turn to “wild” magic which she has been told will betray you when you least expect it. I wanted her to grow, to learn, and even to restore what was lost to her…sigh. I also wanted more magic I suppose, though the mystery element was phenomenal I had a slight suspicion but Ms Butler plays everything out perfectly and the scoundrel is brought to justice. I was kept guessing throughout the entire novel!! I’m now going to die some more till I can get my hands on the 3rd…Oh yes its coming! Again NO Cliffhanger but the ending was heartbreaking with a bit of hope and I’m dying and praying that Nat and Lucy both reach and excel all expectations.
C-alm, Lucy has been away working on regaining what has been lost.
H-elp, with Norrie looking after her Lucy has had much needed support.
A-bandon, Lucy has not heard from her beloved Nat, this confuses her deeply.
N-ews, loyal riders come to retrieve Lucy her magic is sorely needed the fate of the kingdom resides with this.
T-hief, Lucy has been tasked with finding the traitor or else.
R-eassert, Lucy knows something is terribly wrong, she must use her wits and decide who she can trust.
E-vade, an evil cruel man will try to bring Lucy down, his hatred runs deep and everyone refuses to see it.
S-cience, the small council has turned to an easy solution while everyone discounts Nat, he will pursue the truest path.
S-ever, the King cares for Lucy but he agrees she is to be married to her worst nightmare. The decision is not in her own hands as much as who the King marries is in his.
A-dmonish, Nat does not trust anyone he will beseech Lucy to do the same. The secrets continue to grow.
L-ies, Wrexham’s hold on the king continues to grow as does his poison against Lucy.
C-risis, attempted murder runs ramped now an innocent stands to hang, everything seems to have spiraled out of control.
H-ope, a lost secret comes to light, this is just what Lucy has been looking for perhaps her magic can be saved through this small act.
E-lixir, the true plan reveals itself Lucy must face a great danger with determination as her only weapon she will see to victory.
M-istakes, Nat knows the truth of the situation he will do what it takes to not make them again, even if he has to destroy his own heart to see it through.
Y-earning, Lucy has what she desires but a piece of her has broken away she doesn’t understand why with all her freedom and all her power she still feels so alone.
Sigh..The ending didn’t have a cliffhanger but it did have some heart break. I’m a fan of Ms Butlers writing and world building she has done a magnificent job of pulling us into this magical time yet again. We are introduced to new characters, ones to despise, and ones to love, and some to not be… quite sure of till the end. I want MORE!! I want to find out what happened to Lucy’s mother and father. I want Lucy to embrace all of her awesomeness and never let anyone eff with her ever again! NAT! sigh I want so much for him even though he lets me down a bit in this installment I want him to burst through his shell in the next. YA to the core the romance element is again not the main focus, which is totally cool! Chantress Alchemy had intrigue mystery deception and betrayal! It was Yummy I love this series even though I would've liked to have seen some things differently I CANNOT recommend this enough!! It truly is magical!!
4.0 Ocean Mist, Famine, Boudicca, Crucible, S’s Stone, Poison, Perfume Water, Choking, Sabotage, Betrothal, Prison, Pearl Ring, Elixir, Water Fall, Potatoes, Dance, Gabriel, Kings Envoy, Silent Promise Filled Stars!! If you love Magic then You will LOVE THIS SERIES! Its absolutely ENCHANTING!!!! Eeeeep I cant’ wait to see how it all ends in Chantress Trilogy #3!! eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep!
Posted May 6, 2014
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***
Chantress Alchemy by Amy Butler Greenfield
Book Two of the Chantress series
Publisher: Margaret K McElderry Books
Publication Date: May 6, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: eARC from Edelweiss
Summary (from Goodreads):
Lucy is the last Chantress, the only remaining girl who can sing magic into the world. Since she defeated the evil Lord Scargrave, England has changed—and not for the better. With crops failing and the people rebelling, Lucy is called urgently back to King Henry’s court. His Inner Council is convinced that making gold through alchemy will save England. But a critical element to the alchemical process has been stolen. Lucy is tasked with finding it with her magic… or else. And until she succeeds, the castle is on lockdown.
Court too has changed. Scargrave's brutal Chantress-hunter has become King Henry's closest advisor. Lucy’s beloved Nat has fallen out of favor and is shunned by his colleagues; their romance means trouble for both of them. Worst of all, something goes wrong with Lucy’s magic. The palace is a labyrinth, and there’s a monster at its heart — a monster who may have the power to defeat Lucy once and for all.
Amy Butler Greenfield returns to the beguiling world of Chantress for a suspenseful tale of courtly intrigue, music, and magic in Chantress Alchemy.
What I Liked:
Oh, how I love historical fantasy! It's seriously one of my favorite subgenres ever (I think my favorite is medieval fantasy), and I love the fresh voice of Amy Butler Greenfield. I think maybe because she is a writer from the UK (i.e. not in the USA), she has a different and distinct voice and writing style. It's subtle but noticeable, if you read carefully. I love the story that she has created, and I am happy to say that this sequel novel is a good one!
Lucy has defeated Scargrave, but the danger in England still lurks. The people are hungry and poor. The king has decided (with the "help" of the council) to try creating gold from The Philosopher's Stone and the Gold Crucible. The problem is that the Philosopher's Stone must be created - and the crucible has been stolen. The king brings Lucy to Greenwich to use her magic to find the crucible and find out how stole it.
But Lucy no longer hears Proven Magic - only Wild Magic. And things become very complicated, as it becomes clear that finding the crucible is not the only issue at hand. Someone wants the king dead and wants to frame the murder and theft on someone innocent. And Lucy - Lucy finds out that she is no better than property to the council, when something specific comes up, involving Nat.
I thought this was an interesting way for the story to turn. The first book ended pretty well, and I could see it being a standalone novel. The twist in this book, with the stolen crucible, seemed a little bit like the author was reaching for a plot, grasping at straws. I like the direction that the author is going with the series, but this book's plot seemed thrown on the reader at first.
BUT, Greenfield redeems herself with many, many twists and turns in the book. She really does make it evident that Lucy cannot trust anyone. Like, at one point, I didn't even trust Nat - his actions and attitude made no sense. By the end, it is clear who Lucy should and shouldn't trust. But the constant winding plots and obstacles made Lucy's journey interesting.
As with the first book, I really liked Lucy. Sometimes, I thought she had no spine, but I reminded myself that in those situations it made sense, historically. She's a woman - no, a GIRL - and centuries ago, women definitely did not have much sway or power (especially like today).
We don't see Nat much, and when we do, it's brief and impersonal. There are a few intimate scenes between him and Lucy, but they are always interrupted. Nat is honorable and noble, intelligent and cunning. I really liked his role in this book. His decision in the end is understandable. He thinks about everyone, and then himself. He gave up much for Lucy, which is so noble.
The ending. This book wraps up well, just like the first book, but there is one part of the ending that clues me in that there has to be another book in the series. The first book and the second book end in the same way, and this is how I know that there must be a third book. There is unfinished business! It's not a cliffhanger... but unfinished business. Let's leave it at that!
What I Did Not Like:
As I mentioned before, the plot of this book seemed kind of forced at the beginning. There isn't really a plot overall, for the series. It's like some of those TV shows - each episode has a problem, a climax, and a resolution, but there isn't much that ties each episode together, like an overall plot. Both the first book and this book can be read as standalone. I kind of dislike this - the fact that the second book's plot is kind of just invented, and that there is no overall plot for the series.
But oh well. This is a good sequel, and definitely does not suffer from sequel slump.
Would I Recommend It:
I definitely would! This is one of my favorite historical fantasy series, by far. If you liked/loved the first book, DEFINITELY make sure you read this sequel. And if you enjoy historical fiction, or fantasy, or both, read this series!
4 stars. An excellent sequel! I'm really glad I had the chance to read this book early, and I definitely cannot wait to read the third book! Here's hoping for a kickbutt conclusion!