Chantress (Chantress Series #1)by Amy Butler Greenfield
Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England in this “richly and thoughtfully written” story (Publishers Weekly).
“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted Lucy ever since she was shipwrecked on a lonely island. Lucy’s guardian, Norrie, has lots/i>… See more details below
Lucy’s Chantress magic will make her the most powerful—and most hunted—girl in England in this “richly and thoughtfully written” story (Publishers Weekly).
“Sing, and the darkness will find you.” This warning has haunted Lucy ever since she was 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. But on All Hallows’ Eve, Lucy hears a tantalizing melody on the wind. She can’t help but sing along—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.
"[E]ngaging...girl-centric historical fantasy."
"Wonderfully felt, seen, and dreamed, Greenfield's debut fantasy is an enchanted read."
"I simply loved it. It was a delicious journey into a fantasy world that mingles music, magic, altered British history, and romance."
"Chantress is one of those rare books that's so beautifully written you want to read it slowly and savor every word, but the story is so compelling you want to race through the pages! I loved it."
"With a spirited heroine, fearsome monsters, and luminous worldbuilding, this story had me hooked from the first page. CHANTRESS is truly enchanting."
"Chantress is like the best kind of magic — absorbing, mysterious, and delightful."
"A pure and elevated pleasure, like strawberries of the perfect ripeness or a gorgeous aria. In Greenfield’s gripping fantasy novel the menace is palpable, and the practice of magic is described in such an evocative and haunting manner that I yearned to hear it. This exploration of the costs of a fear-based society and the real but worthwhile risks of freedom is deeply relevant to our times."
"Chantress is a beguiling and mesmerizing story, full of mystery and song. From the first word, I was enchanted by Amy Butler Greenfield's unique twist on English history and by her compelling, magical, and loveable heroine, Lucy."
Gr 9 Up—In renaissance-era London, Lucy Marlowe discovers that she is a Chantress and thus capable of creating powerful magic through singing. Greenfield effectively conjures a world in which England is controlled by the nefarious Lord Scargrave and his Shadowgrims, creatures who find and capture enemies of the crown, especially Chantresses. When Lucy's power unexpectedly manifests, she inadvertently transports herself from the protected island where she has grown up to the heart of London. She earns the trust and help of Cornelius Penebrygg and his apprentice, Nat. They tell her that she is the only person who can put an end to Scargrave's reign of terror, but she must first learn how to use her powers. Fortunately, Lucy's Godmother, Lady Helaine, takes control of the teen's magical training. Just before the heroine embarks on a dangerous mission to sneak into the Tower and steal a grimoire, a book of spells that controls the Shadowgrims, she learns that Lady Helaine has ulterior motives. Faced with conflicting goals and ideals, Lucy must decide for herself what kind of world she wants to live in and what kind of person she wants to be. Although the idea of magic conjured by singing is slightly silly, Greenfield's characters help suspend disbelief. While Chantress is likely to interest readers looking for historical fantasy, they will find it more skillfully done in Rachel Hartman's Seraphina (Random, 2012).—Joy Piedmont, LREI, New York City
Read an Excerpt
I was digging in the garden when I heard it: a strange, wild singing on the wind.
I sat back on my heels, a carrot dropping from my mud-splattered hands.
No one sang here. Not on this island.
Perhaps I’d misheard—
No, there it was again: a lilting line, distant but clear. It lasted hardly longer than a heartbeat, but it left me certain of one thing: It was more than a gull’s cry I’d heard. It was a song.
But who was singing it?
I glanced over my shoulder at Norrie, hunched over a cabbage bed, a gray frizzle poking out from under her linen cap. As far as I knew, she was the only other inhabitant of this lonely Atlantic island, but it couldn’t have been Norrie I had heard. For if there was one rule that my guardian set above all others, it was this one: There must be no singing. Ever.
Sing and the darkness will find you.
We were still dripping from the shipwreck when Norrie first told me this. She had repeated it often since then, but there was no need. The terror in her eyes that first time had silenced me immediately—that and my own grief, so deep I was drowning in it. The sea had taken my mother and had almost taken me. That was enough darkness to last me a lifetime; I had no desire to court more.
Not that I could recall very much about the shipwreck itself. Even the ship that had carried us off from England seven years ago had left no impression on me. Was it stout or shaky, that vessel? Had it foundered on rocks? Had storms broken its masts? I did not know. We had boarded that ship in 1660, when I had been eight years of age. Surely eight was old enough to remember? Yet my only recollections of that night came in broken fragments, slivers that were more sensation than sense. The sopping scratchiness of wet wool against my cheeks. The bitter sea wind snarling my hair into salty whips. The chill of the dark water as I slipped through it.
“Hush, child,” Norrie would say whenever I dared mention any of this. “It was a long time ago, and a terrible night, and you were very young. The least said about it, the better.”
“But my mother—”
“She’s lost to us, lamb, lost to the wind and the waves.” Norrie’s face would always pucker in sadness as she said this, before her voice grew brisk. “It’s just the two of us now, and we must make the best of it.”
When Norrie took that tone, there was no refusing her. So make the best of it we did, and if life on our island was not easy, it was far from desolate.
But we never sang. We never even whistled or hummed. We had no music of any kind. And if anyone had asked me, I would have said I did not miss it at all . . . .
It was as if the singing had pierced a hole in me, a hole only it could fill. I sat silent, listening hard. Withered stalks rustled in the warm October sunlight. Gulls shrilled as they swooped toward the bluffs. And then, on the wind, I heard it again, the barest edge of a tune, almost as if the sea itself were singing—
From two rows away, Norrie waved her wooden trowel in her gnarled hand. “What’s wrong with you, child? I’ve harvested a whole basket of cabbages in the time it’s taken you to root out three carrots.”
It didn’t matter that I stood half a head taller than Norrie did, or that I thought of myself as nearly grown—she still called me child. But I was too used to it to bristle. Instead, I looked down at my meager takings. If Norrie had heard the music, surely she would have mentioned it. Since she hadn’t, I wasn’t going to. I didn’t care to have her scolding me, yet again, for having too much imagination and not enough sense. Was the singing real? I was almost willing to swear it was . . . but not quite. Not to Norrie.
“Well, Lucy, what is it?” Norrie knocked the dirt from her trowel. “Are you ill?”
“No.” If anyone looked ill, it was Norrie. Every year the harvest was more of a struggle for her. It scared me to see her cheeks so mottled, her stout shoulders drooping. I knew she wouldn’t appreciate my saying so, though.
“You’ve been working since sunrise,” I said instead. “Don’t you think you’ve earned a rest?”
“Rest?” Beneath her rumpled cap, Norrie looked scandalized. “On Allhallows’ Eve? Whatever can you be thinking?”
“I only meant—”
“Back to work now, and no more dawdling, please,” Norrie said, her face anxious. “We need those carrots, every single one, if we’re not to go hungry this winter.”
“I’ll get them all,” I promised, hoping to calm her.
Norrie’s brow relaxed a little, but her back was still tense as she bent over her cabbages again.
I wrapped my hands around a frill of carrot and sighed. Allhallows’ Eve, the thirty-first of October—every year I dreaded this day. For if Norrie was strict as a general rule, on Allhallows’ Eve she was at her absolute worst. From dawn to dusk, she worked us half to death, dragging in the last of the harvest and safeguarding the house against the coming night.
“After sunset,” she would say. “That’s when the true danger comes. The spirits walk, and mischief is in the air. We have to protect ourselves.”
Maybe so. But to me the preparations seemed an endless burden, especially as I had never seen any sign of the mischief Norrie talked about.
Unless the singing . . . ?
But no. If singing was what Norrie had meant by mischief, I reasoned, surely she would’ve said so. And anyway, the sun was still golden bright. Rather low in the sky, but a good way from night.
Yet I worked a little harder, if only because I owed it to Norrie. For seven years, she had raised me singlehandedly—not without a fair amount of scolding and sighing, to be sure, but always with real affection. Now that she was growing older and her strength was ebbing, I knew it was up to me to return the favor, and look after her. If she wanted the harvest brought in before nightfall, then we would bring it in.
So I piled the carrots high, and when Norrie next turned to see me, she smiled in satisfaction. But while I worked, my thoughts were my own. With part of my mind, I listened out for the singing. The rest of me wished desperately for a life bigger than carrots and harvests and Norrie’s superstitions.
I knew, none better, that the island had pleasures to offer—the silky white sand of its beaches; hidden coves speckled with shells; sun-drenched mornings at the water’s edge. But they could not compensate for the isolation we endured, or for the relentless drudgery of our daily existence.
Our life in England had not been like this. I remembered a cottage by the sea, bright with my mother’s wools and weaving, where guests told stories by the fire. Before that, I had only a scattered patchwork of memories, but they were colorful and varied: a game of hide-and-seek in a castle’s great hall, a tiny garret room perched by the River Thames, the green smell of bracken by a forest lodge.
“We moved often in those early years,” was Norrie’s only comment about that time. “Not that I’m blaming your mother, mind you. She had to look out for herself, what with your father dying before you were even born, leaving her all alone. But the Good Lord didn’t mean for a body always to be traveling hither and yon. Best to set yourself down in one place and stick to it, that’s what I say.”
She was as good as her word. She had rooted herself so deeply on the island that I half feared she would refuse rescue if it were offered.
Me, I would swim out to meet the ship. I longed for new sights and adventures, for a life not bounded by the island’s shore. Above all, I longed for freedom—especially as Norrie grew ever more dogmatic about everything from what we had for Sunday breakfast to how many peat bricks we should burn in the fireplace.
With a sigh, I gathered up my carrots. Norrie had countless rules about those, too—not only about how to harvest and sort them but how to store and when to eat them.
A ship, I found myself praying. Oh, please send a ship.
But what was the use of praying? I had been waiting and watching and hoping for seven long years, and no ship had ever come.
Seven years, and no rescue in sight. Seven long years on this island. And how many more to follow?
Wincing, I rose and tossed my carrots into the waiting baskets. They thumped as they hit the pile—and that’s when I heard the singing again.
The notes cascaded around me, stronger this time and more urgent. For a reckless moment, I wanted nothing so much as to give voice to the music myself, and sing it back to the wind. But then, like a muzzle, came Norrie’s warning, the endless refrain I’d heard since childhood:
Sing and the darkness will find you.
I closed my eyes.
I blinked, and the music vanished.
Norrie was standing before me. “Lucy, did I hear you humming?”
“No. Of course not.” I hadn’t been humming, had I? I would have known if I had.
“It wasn’t me you heard,” I said. “It’s something else. A sort of singing sound in the wind. I don’t know what it is.”
Norrie’s eyes opened wide.
“Listen! There it is again.” This time I took care not to drink the music in too deeply. It wouldn’t do for Norrie to guess how it made me feel. “I can’t think where it comes from, can you? Could it be a bird—a new one blown in by the winds?” Another possibility struck me, and I glanced toward the bluff in excitement. “Or maybe . . . a ship? I haven’t been able to keep a proper lookout today, not with the harvest.” This had been a bone of contention between us at breakfast; I had wanted to make my usual observations, but Norrie said we couldn’t afford the time. “Maybe someone is coming to rescue us, someone who doesn’t know you shouldn’t sing here—”
Norrie’s leathery cheeks turned pale. “Child, where is your stone?”
I blinked. “My stone?” I touched my hand to the heavy, clay-red pendant that hung on a silver chain under my dress. It was a gift from my mother, all I had left of her. I never took it off, not even when bathing. “Here, of course. Why?”
Instead of answering, Norrie said, “It’s time we went inside.”
I looked at her in surprise. “Now?”
“But the cabbages—”
“Leave them be.”
I stared at her. That didn’t sound like Norrie—Norrie who every year insisted on gathering every scrap from the garden on Allhallows’ Eve. “I don’t understand.”
“What’s to understand? We’ve worked long enough today. You said so yourself. Come inside.”
Norrie spoke stoutly enough, but in the late afternoon light, I saw a sheen on her face like the start of the sweating sickness. All thoughts of singing and music flew out of my head. If Norrie was feverish, I must get her to bed.
Tucking her hand in my arm, I steered her toward the cottage.
† † †
Even though it was a good hour or more until sunset, the cottage was half-dark already. Its windows were too few to let in much light. But I would have known Norrie’s kitchen anywhere by its smell alone—a rich, earthy mix of peat and tarragon and rue. Usually there was soup simmering too, but on Allhallows’ Eve Norrie always insisted that the iron cauldron hang empty while the remains of the old year’s fire burned out beneath it.
“You sit down,” I told Norrie. “I’ll bring you a blanket to keep off the chill.”
“No need, child. No need.” Now that we were inside, Norrie looked and sounded more like her usual self. But I brought the blanket anyway, and when I came back through the kitchen doorway, I saw her put a hand to her heart.
“You really are ill, then,” I said, alarmed.
Again Norrie waved me away. “No, child. No.”
“But you’re so pale—”
“It’s only that it quite takes me aback sometimes, how much you look like your mother. Same gray eyes, same little cat’s chin.” She looked me over, then added reprovingly, “Of course, your hair is wilder.”
I scraped back my tangled curls without protest, not wanting to interrupt. Norrie rarely spoke of my mother, even when pressed—a great disappointment to me, for my own memories of her were few.
But it seemed that Norrie was done with the past. “Goodness!” She pushed away my blanket. “Look at how low the sun is. I must get the seaweed before dark.”
It was an Allhallows’ Eve tradition that Norrie insisted upon: We always boiled freshly gathered seaweed in a cauldron over the new fire, then drank the broth to protect ourselves from harm. Norrie was exacting about the kind of seaweed it had to be, which made the whole chore more tedious, and another time I might have let her go off by herself to find it. But not now, not when I was so worried about her.
“You rest here. I’ll go down to the cove.” I reached for a netted sack by the door, handy for carrying the slimy seaweed.
Norrie snatched the bag out of my reach. “No!”
I stared at her. Norrie could be stern, but she rarely shouted and she never snatched.
“You will not go out that door.” Norrie blocked the way forward. “Not tonight. Not while there’s breath in my body to stop you.”
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I read the reviews and I thought I was in for something original. Sad to say this really I am. I tried to like it, I really did. But the main character Lucy.......Let's just say I hated her guts. In the words of Chantress and Lady Helaine "This is what I have asked myself. You are foolish, you are impatient, you are shockingly ignorant-and your instincts are deplorable." I couldn't agree more. I read the whole book because I paid for it and there was no way for a refund. I also kept hoping that Lucy would change and GROW UP and be more mature and LEARN from her MANY MANY mistakes but she didn't and it really really infuriated me to the end. Also, when she was learning from her elder, the book clearly said that she had no respect for the safe way of singing, which was frustrating because 1) it's safer and was supposed to help her, especially since her stone couldn't handle the other kind of singing. 2) Even though she tried her hardest and did succeed at learning "Lady Helaine's way" I mean I can understand teacher and student relationship can be hard and there is hatred at times, but come on, she wanted/needed to learn from her aunt. I'm not saying that I'm defending her aunt either, she had massive faults too. One thing that I did like about Lucy though was that she did what was right, even though she was enthralled/enamored by the chantress book she destroyed it and saved the kingdom from more destruction and misery from tyrants such as the "Lord Protector" and the "shadowgrims."
I thought this was a great book. It's different from other books that have magic in it. In this book they can only perform magic by singing. Lucy is stranded on an island and was told never to sing, but on one faithful day she heard a song. She decided to sing, the song brought her to England. She then finds out that she is called a Chantress and that she is the only one. We read about how the Chantress' came about and who can only be one. I like that her relationship with Nat progresses over time. Quite frankly they didn't like each other to begin with. It's refreshing almost, too many books start with the characters loving each other within days. So that's just going to make the next book more magical. Can't wait until the next one to see where the author takes these characters.
4 Stars A hypnotic and alluring read, that delivers magic, corruption, rebellion, a kingdom in turmoil, an evil dictator, and the fight for survival that could possibly end it all for the better or worse... The CHANTRESS was an enticing blend of fantasy and historical fiction, that intertwined magic with a splash of romance to keep the reader reading well into the night. I was instantly hooked from the very first page. And I was VERY surprised of how much I liked the CHANTRESS, as I was always reluctant to read it for numerous reasons. And I've never really been too intrigued by the plot description from the synopsis either. But fortunately as my love for the fantasy genre grew, so did my open mind for other fantasy books I've always shunned in the past and was reluctant to read. But the CHANTRESS has proved me wrong even with it's minor flaws. The first small issue I had with the CHANTRESS was the pacing of the plot. It was VERY slow paced, and felt like it was taking baby steps to progress at some points. The plot was interesting, but the paced it moved threw me off a bit. I would of liked a faster plot, and it definitely could of benefited with an increase of action and adventure. Though it did have it's fair share of adventure, it needed, in my opinion more action. The other issue I had with the CHANTRESS was the romance. Now don't get me wrong, I liked that it was slow burning and not rushed at all. But it was too slow, and barely even any romance at all, at least not until the last chapter or so. And even then, it wasn't even really there either. But I did think that Lucy and her "kinda" love interest Nat made a cute couple, and I really hope we get more from their relationship in the next book, CHANTRESS ALCHEMY. But slow pace and lack of romance aside, I really enjoyed the foundation of this world and the things that did happen, even with the lack of suspense. The characters, especially Lucy, Nat, and Nat's adopted father figure Penebrygg were awesome characters and had such a strong voice that it would be nearly impossible not to like them. Even though none of them were the "normal" type of characters I usually read. I still enjoyed their voices and character traits, and the fleshed out development that Butler instilled in her wonderful cast of characters that I just loved to pieces. THE PLOT: "Sing, and the darkness will find you." Lucy has lost everything because of one man, now it's time to awaken the power pulsing inside, and save London from the monsters unleashed to devourer it from the inside out... Shipwrecked on a island since she was eight-years-old, Lucy remembers very little of her life before then. She knows that her mother was lost at sea when they boarded that dreadful ship that deserted them to this abandoned island they now call home. Only other person she's seen since that shipwreck seven-long-years-ago, is her mother-like nurse Norrie that has kept her alive all these lonely years. But Lucy yearns to be free, to return to her hometown of London where her memories hide. But with no hope of rescue, Lucy and her nurse are destine to remain on that island for the rest of their days. Until the darkness she's been warned about finds her. And she's swept into a tornado of wind that tosses her in the very place she desired most, London. But right in the middle of grave danger... Back in London and more alone then she's ever been, Lucy finds the hard way that the kingdom has fallen into vengeful hands. Crowned to a boy-king in name only, but ruled by Scargrave and his vile creatures the Shadowgrims that are capable of tearing a man apart from the inside out, stripping him of all sense of sanity and humanity, and making him into a walking talking Shadowgrim lackey, only breathing to do their bidding... But that's not all Lucy discovers on her journey back to her hometown of London. It's revealed that she is a Chantress, and the very last one of her kind after Scargrave and his creatures the Shadowgrims, the only thing capable of defeating a Chantress hunted down every last one of them, and killed them all. Being the last Chantress, and an untrained one at that, Lucy is playing with fire, and is bound to get burned... But then Lucy stumbles upon members of a rebellion, working from the shadows to find ways with their intelligence to outwit Scargrave and his creature army. But now with a Chantress walking right into their needing hands, they may have just found the ultimate weapon to defeat them once and for all... Lucy will have to discover her true self and what it truly means to be a Chantress to stop the evil threatening to tear London apart. Being the only one strong enough to even stand a chance against Scargrave and his pet Shadowgrims, Lucy must learn as much as she can about herself and the power she possess within if she's going to have any chance of standing against them and prevailing once and for all. The CHANTRESS was a GREAT start to an amazing series that I absolutely adored! I plan to binge read book two and three as soon as possible. Because I'm dying to know what Lucy and her little gang will endure next. And the limits to which Lucy will be tested to achieve whatever new threat awaits her at the end of this epic trilogy that I know will NOT disappoint. Overall, the CHANTRESS was more then I anticipated, and though it was very slow paced, and I wanted a little bit more from the romance, I still found myself easily engrossed in the story and characters no matter it's flaws. And I am so happy I decided to give this book it's fair shot, and I'm eagerly anticipating continuing this series and the next journey it brings!! If you like magical worlds with VERY slow burning romance, a kingdom on the verge of self destruction, with evil lurking from the sky and around the corner, then CHANTRESS is one read you DON'T want to miss!! NOTE: I received a physical ARC from Simon & Schuster for reviewing purposes! All opinions express are my own and are not influenced in any way!
The cover called me on this one. Once I read the description and realized it had that blend of historical fiction and fantasy/paranormal, I was sold. It was a little slow in places, but overall it was an enjoyable read. It must be frustrating to be Lucy. The past 7 years have been spent on a deserted island with no real explanation as to what is going on. Her mother is gone and she's not allowed to sing. At first this little fact really through me. I could not figure out what it was about signing that was so bad. I really thought it was some type of sinful thing and so it was forbidden. Turns out, when Lucy sings, she harnesses energy for the world around her and can do magic. She's the only one left with this ability. It doesn't take long for people to track her down and want to use her powers to take down the person in control of the country. He's hunted down every last one of her kind and had them killed. Accept for one...she's just been stripped of all her magic. This one person is actually her godmother, and she seems completely uncaring. She feels she's the best person to help Lucy realize her full potential. The only problem is her lessons must be done were the watchful eyes of the Lord Protector can't find her. So she's taken deep unground with a women who does nothing but criticize everything she does. She can't hold the right tune, she sings without the right emotions, not long enough, too short. I found her constant belittling rather annoying. I often thought she was insanely jealous of Lucy because she still possessed the talent. My high points were the magic itself and Lucy's relationship with Nat. The magic really was interesting. It had factors to it that made it more complex. There was ordinary magic and wild magic and the consequences were completely different. But, I felt that wild magic was poorly understood and therefore deemed to risky to undertake. I think I liked the romantic relationship with Nat because I wasn't ever sure it was actually going to happen. Nat seemed to uneasy when it came to Lucy's magic that I wasn't sure it would be something he could look past. Especially knowing it was something she could never leave behind. The story dragged out in the middle. I felt we spend a lot of time underground while she was training, although during this time we learn a lot of history about the Chantress and the country itself. I also felt the ending was abrupt. It felt to easy. It also make me wonder were the story can go next. I'm sure I'll read the next one though because I want to know what is in store for Lucy. Plus, I like to combination of historical fiction and fantasy/paranormal.
<blockquote> 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.</blockquote> 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.
I've been anxiously awaiting CHANTRESS since reading the book's unusual, intriguing summary. It sounded like something that could have been influenced by Greek mythology, yet it was also original. And it involved singing. I would like to see more fantasy novels where singing is considered magical art in and of itself. I never had time to read the title, though, and it fell down my TBR list. I was recently lucky enough to take part in Lena Goldfinch's Blog Tour for her new novel SONGSTONE. I reviewed the book and interviewed the author. This book also revolves around the magical elements of song in a fantasy world, albeit in completely different ways. Even so, it re-inspired me to read CHANTRESS, and I'm glad I finally have the chance to talk about it. In a world where chantresses are feared and persecuted, one managed to escape. She stowed her young daughter away on a deserted island before she herself was murdered. That daughter, Lucy, has grown up unaware of the ability stowed away within her. She lives alone with Norrie and knows only that singing is forbidden. She comes of age without being told the terrible truth about her heritage, and accidentally sings on All Hallow's Eve, breaking the spell her mother cast and propelling both herself and Norrie to their homeland of England. The only problem? The Lord Protector is high on power and knows that only a chantress can reverse the dark magic he wields. He's mandated that all chantresses must be brought before him...where they are then executed. Lucy goes into hiding with a circle that calls itself The Invisible College is bent on finding a way to bring Lord Scargrave down and give his power to young King Henry the Ninth before London is destroyed. Lucy's newfound abilities as a Chantress are the best chance they have. Lucy only has six months to learn skills that she should have been learning her entire life. If she can't learn to focus and control her songs, she has the power to sing a song of destruction that will bring England to its knees...but if she pulls it off, she'll save everyone. I didn't realize that CHANTRESS was historical fantasy until I was reading the novel. It added to the appeal, however, and never felt forced. Instead, the time period was completely suitable and added an additional layer to the story. I find that more and more historical fantasy novels are making their way into YA, which is always a welcome addition. The tides seem to be turning in that direction when it comes to fantasy with recent entries like GRAVE MERCY and DARK TRIUMPH by Robin LaFevers and CHANGELING by Philippa Gregory. Those readers looking for an epic romance novel will be disappointed, while the ones who want a book more focused on the story will rejoice. There's a little romance, but much later on, and I expect it to be more of a focus in future titles. Greenfield chooses to focus on developing Lucy and preparing her for a meeting with destiny, as well as creating a backstory of the persecution of all Chantresses. She builds a state of array for London and features citizens longing to break free of the horror of Lord Scargrave and his Shadowgrims CHANTRESS is certainly an ambitious novel. The scope of a Chantress is vast and intriguing. At times, there's a lot of info-dumping that can be hard to wade through, creating more Tell than Show. The sequence where Lucy begins studying how to properly be a Chantress leans tedious. At the same time, future books will likely be more focused on action since we already know all of this information. While CHANTRESS ends cleanly and can stand completely on its own, there are two more books to come. Those looking for a book that doesn't have any sequels can read this and feel satisfied, but those wanting more will be happy as well. Greenfield has achieved a good balance here, and it will be interesting to see where she takes Lucy in future books.
There is only one like
Lucy has lived secluded from the world on an island for years. The only other person on the island is Norrie, who tells her the darkness will find her if she sings. Only Lucy wants and adventure and she gets more than she bargained for when she sings. Now Lucy is in hiding with Nat, who hates magic and Penebrygg, who wants Lucy to save them. Lucy doesn’t know the first thing about being a Chantress, but she is willing to try to save England and the friends that she has come to love. It takes one song to change Lucy’s world forever. This book was highly unique. I’ve never read anything like it. If you have please leave a comment, I’d love to read it. :D Lucy is a fifteen year old girl and a lot is on her shoulders. She is the last Chantress and only she can save England. A Chantress is someone who can use magic through song. That being said Lucy is going to try her best to save them, even if it puts her in danger. There is one person who dislikes Chantresses and he’ll do anything to eliminate them. It was all very interesting to watch. Although the book to me seemed a little slow. It didn’t really start to pick up until Lucy learned how to control her songs. If you are looking for a romantic book, this is not for you. Yes, there is a love interest, but they don’t really start showing it till the end. Honestly, it seemed a little forced. It could have done without it. Hopefully it will not seem as forced in he next one and they can get to know each other more. I really would like to learn more about Nat and his past. We just get a little taste of it in this one. :D Overall: If you love a historical book packed with magic this book is for you. 3.8 STARS
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield Book One of the Chantress trilogy Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books Publication Date: May 7, 2013 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from Edelweiss Summary (from Goodreads): Lucy’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. What I Liked: I was pleasantly surprised when I finished this book and realized that I really liked it! The books that I read before this one were not so good, so reading this book seemed like a breath of fresh air. I loved the originality of this book, the fantasy elements, and the historical setting. You all know how much I LOVE historical fiction novels (especially historical romance novels!), so I had a feeling I would at least enjoy this book. But, I loved it! I just loved the idea of a "chantress"! A chantress is kind of like a siren, with power in the voice, and a chantress sings and harnesses the power of magic. Lucy is a chantress, and after she escapes the island that she has been living on for many years, she finds herself in England. There, she meets Nat and the rest of the Invisible College, and slowly develops her powers, with the help of her newly discovered godmother. Lucy's history is quite intriguing. Her mother's life and Lucy's childhood is revealed gradually, through her tight-lipped godmother. The story of the chantresses is very sad but intriguing as well. Lucy's godmother has her own interesting past, but it is a tragic past. Lucy's godmother holds tight reins on Lucy, but only because she knows her own past, and doesn't want Lucy to get hurt. Among other reasons. The fantasy of this book was so amazing. I loved the world-building and how well the author creates this historical England setting. Historical settings are not easy to procure, but this author clearly did her research. I've read many historical romance novels set about this time period, and the authenticity of the setting is obvious to me. I loved the characters of this book! And the characterization is so nice! Lucy is a great protagonist to follow. This book is in a historical society, yet Lucy still seems to project herself as a female and a chantress. I love the development she undergoes, especially with the ending considered! And Nat. Oh, Nat. He's definitely one of my favorite characters, if not, my favorite. I wish there could have been more scenes with him, and him and Lucy interacting. He is definitely a lovable love interest, but he doesn't take control or take command of many situations. I'm saying he's wimpy; he just doesn't get the opportunity very often. So, he doesn't always get to prove himself as the hero/male protagonist of the story. But whatever. I really liked him. He's calm and sweet and lovable! And guess what? No love triangle! Or messy love thing! YAY! The ending ripped my heart out. I knew something had to be sacrificed (as something always is, when you get to the climax of the book), but this was really big. I suppose it gives me something to look forward to in the next book - how Lucy deals with said large event. What I Did Not Like: I just went through all of those awesome things that I really liked about this book, but despite all of that, there was something that always bugged me: the predictability. Up until the very end of the book, the overall, general structure of the plot was predictable. Once we get a layout of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are, everything was pretty foreseeable from there. And then there was the romance. You say, but Alyssa, you LOVED Nat, and there is NO love triangle, so what's the problem? But see, there are not that many interactions between Lucy and Nat, as I mentioned above. And the interactions that we do get don't lead us toward chemistry or any sort of feelings for each other, though we do see them develop in both characters. Maybe I just wanted more from the romance. I'm hoping that happens in the next book. Would I Recommend It: YES! Totally! I really enjoyed this book - especially since it's a mix of my two favorite genres, historical fiction, and fantasy. Run and grab it now! Rating: 4 stars. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, despite its predictability, and I have confidence that you will, too!
The first thing that made me want to read Chantress by author Amy Butler Greenfield was the cover. Is it not beautiful? Just take a minute out of your life and look at it. It’s gorgeous and the whole ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ does not count in this situation—I judged Chantress to be awesome based off the cover and it totally was! Score! This is definitely a story unlike any other and one that I fell for hard. Chantress is a novel to look out for. Set in the 1600s, main character Lucy has been living on an island where her only companion has constantly told her that if she sings the darkness will find her. One day Lucy hears music, something forbidden on the island, and when she’s accused to singing to it Lucy is brought to England and into the wicked Lord Scargrave’s manor. It’s there that she hears how Scargrave is hunting down women called Chantresses and it comes to Lucy’s attention that she is one of them. A Chantress is a woman who uses her singing voice to bend the laws of nature and Lucy is obviously capable. When she escapes from Scargrave’s manor with a book thief she ends up in the care of Nat and Penebrygg, two men who want to defeat Scargrave and rid him of his ability to control the Shadowgrims; demonic beings that he work as his servants. Penebrygg and Nat reveal to Lucy that she is one of the last remaining Chantresses and that the fate of England is resting on her shoulders. Lucy is the last remaining weapon against Scargrave and the Shadowgrims. With her help she can destroy them and his power, but in doing so Lucy must learn to control her voice and learn spells that must be sung and mastered. As time goes on Lucy prepares to defeat Scargrave and learns secrets about who she really is and the world her mother worked to keep hidden from her. Chantress is a novel that is all around fun to read. There were parts that made me laugh, parts that wrung my heart and others that had me caught up in the novel’s quick pace and action. I’ve always been a fan of singing and besides sirens, I’ve never heard of a heroine who uses her singing voice to whip up spells that help her defeat evil. Definitely a refreshing read as well as something that kept me light on my feet while reading. One thing I learned from Chantress is that while awesome heroes are born, they also have to be made and Greenfield did an amazing job at making a hero that I wanted to cheer on right until the very end. I’m pretty sure this is one of the few times that I’ve read a novel set in the 1600s and the author’s descriptions of the setting pulled me into the story and had me vividly imagining the world around Lucy in my head. With that being said about descriptions Chantress was a novel that, I found, clearly described everything to the point where an image was created in your mind, but you weren’t bombarded with information overload. Great because information overload slows down the pace and Chantress is a novel that keeps up consistent pacing. Personally I thought that for around half of the novel Chantress is very introductory to the world that Chantress is set in. I found this beneficial since it lets the reader learn with Lucy and allows them to understand everything to the same extents that she would. I know that that might sound like the beginning half of the novel is boring but it’s far from it. The other half of the novel is full of Chantresses and magical singing being used to the best of its ability. Definitely awesomesauce and it made me love Chantress all the more. I’d recommend Chantress to readers who are looking for a novel with a strong female protagonist, readers who are looking for a refreshing new title in the YA-verse that has all the best magical elements. I’d also recommend this novel to readers who are big fans of novels with witches and sorcery. Definitely something to pick up and get excited to read.
4.5 Stars 'Chantress' is a captivating and beautifully written young adult historical fantasy novel that follows our teenage heroine, Lucy Marlowe, as her life is turned upside down when she accidentally uses her magic to transport herself and her guardian, Norrie, back to London one day. Lucy learns the truth of her heritage: she is a Chantress, like her mother before her. She has the magical ability to sing things into being. In London, Lucy is taken in by Dr. Penebrygg and his apprentice, Nat, who fill her in on her heritage and what has been happening for the years while she was on the island with Norrie. England has become terrorized by the King's Protector, a terrible man named Scargrave who is using Chantress magic to torture and kill any people he deems a threat. The only way to stop Scargrave and save England is with Lucy's ability - she must sing a song that will break the magic holding Scargrave's power. Along with her growing powers, her unsure feelings towards Nat, and the entire country's well-being riding on her shoulders, Lucy must look deep inside herself to find the voice she's been taught to hide for so long. This was a truly enchanting novel that swept me off my feet from the beginning and didn't slow down until the final page. I found myself eagerly reading each word and wondering what would happen next. The characters were all well written and unique - they each had strength and weaknesses, along with quirks and flaws that made them very realistic and easy to identify with. I loved Lucy as the main character. She's completely uprooted from her home, transported to a place where people like her have been obliterated and the rest are hunted down, she doesn't know a soul, and she finds out she has magical abilities. Taking all of this into account, along with the new knowledge behind her mother's fate and the fact that she is the only hope these people have, Lucy is very mature for her age and acts with a grace and intellect that most would envy. She's still human though, and she has to deal with failures, crushes, uncertainty, and self doubt. It makes her a very likable main character and one that I definitely rooted for throughout the novel. The plot of the book was incredibly fascinating and original. I have never read anything quite like it and I relished reading as much as I could about the Chantresses. I'm hoping that the next book will delve a bit more into their history and abilities because I found it so interesting to read about. The historical aspect of the book was very well researched and I enjoyed that part of it as well. The imagery of the book was so vivid and descriptive that I could easily close my eyes and feel as though I was right beside Lucy and the others. The writing itself was incredibly well done with a fast pace that kept me eagerly turning the pages and it also wove the various story lines together with ease. The wonderful thing about this book was it's ability to break down genre walls and effortlessly blend various types of fiction. It has a bit of everything: mystery, adventure, fantasy, history, magic, romance, action, and more. It easily appeals to fans of several different genre types and is the type of book that everyone will enjoy reading. This is easily one of the most riveting and enchanting novels I've read this year and I'm already eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series. Fans of YA fiction will not want to miss out on this one! Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
I loved this novel! It's a gorgeously written fantasy yet very atmospheric of 17th-century London, with a strong girl character who finds herself hunted by oppressive government forces. Lucy is a "chantress" (a singer of spells) and her kind have been outlawed and driven underground or killed. With a secret group of inventors and scientists (including a darkly handsome apprentice, Will), she fights back using both science and reason. Satisfying and engrossing.