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Singer in the Snow

Singer in the Snow

4.1 7
by Louise Marley

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“Remember the first time you read Le Guin’s Earthsea novels or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings? All that timeless magic and wisdom is just as powerful in Marley’s latest—an instant classic.”—Paul Goat Allen, Explorations
On Nevya, summer comes once every five years, and to be outside after nightfall


“Remember the first time you read Le Guin’s Earthsea novels or Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings? All that timeless magic and wisdom is just as powerful in Marley’s latest—an instant classic.”—Paul Goat Allen, Explorations
On Nevya, summer comes once every five years, and to be outside after nightfall is fatal. Its people rely on their Cantors and Cantrixes, men and women with the ability to channel psi energy through music, creating heat and light. Mreen is possibly the most talented Cantrix on Nevya—but she is unable to make a sound. When she travels to her first posting at the house of Tarud, she is accompanied by a younger Singer, Emle, who will help the Cantrix, teach Tarus’s Housemembers the Cantrix’s finger-symbol alphabet, and try to come to terms with her own flawed Gift, her inability to channel her psi. The two young women then find out about Gwin, a young girl whose abusive stepfather wants to exploit her psi-Gift talents—and in reaching out to help her, both Mreen and Emle learn how to help themselves.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Almost ten years since the conclusion of her Singers of Nevya trilogy (Sing the Light, Sing the Warmth, and Receive the Gift), Louise Marley returns to the ice planet with a science fantasy masterwork about two unique young women struggling to realize their potential.

On the planet of Nevya -- a world without any advanced technology where summer only comes every five years -- simply being outside at the wrong time can mean certain death. The Nevyans depend solely on Singers ("Gifted" individuals with the ability to channel psi energy through music to create heat and light) for survival. Mreen is one of the most powerful psi channelers Nevya has ever seen, but she's completely mute. Emle, on the other hand, is an exceptional Singer who can't productively channel her energy. When the two are sent from the shelter of the Nevyan Conservatory to a distant outpost, they must rely on each other for strength. But once at Tarus, their problems become secondary, as the two become involved in a young Gifted girl's life-and-death struggle to survive a negligent mother and a violently abusive stepfather.

From the beautifully lyrical writing style and deeply heartfelt themes to the extraordinary cover art and design, Marley's Singer in the Snow is truly magical. While categorized as a young adult title, this novel can -- and should -- be read by science fiction and fantasy fans of all ages. Remember the first time you read Le Guin's Earthsea novels or Tolkien's Lord of the Rings? All that timeless magic and wisdom is just as powerful in this instant classic. Paul Goat Allen
Marley returns to the ice planet Nevya for this offering aimed at young adults. Mreen, one of the most gifted students at Conservatory focuses psi energy through her music to create light and warmth, or quiru, so effectively that she glows with light. Unlike other students at Conservatory, however, she does not sing; she has no voice. Emle is a talented Singer, but she cannot create quiru. When Mreen becomes a Cantrix and is assigned to a House, Emle accompanies her to be her voice until the new community can learn Mreen's sign language. At the House of Tarus, Luke, a stable apprentice, bridles under the rough treatment that his mother, sister, and he experience from his abusive stepfather, Axl. The new Cantrix and Emle sense the tension, and they are both drawn into Luke's dilemma. At the same time, both Mreen and Emle acquire insight into their personal difficulties, particularly Emle. Marley allows these revelations to unfold naturally with convincing results. Rather than acquiring instant resolution, each woman must absorb new understanding before being able to act upon it. Although the beginning is a bit slow, Marley deftly balances authentic characterization with a compelling plot, often surprising the reader through revealing and subtle insight into the characters. Marley maintains her usually tightly paced plot without sacrificing characterization: The characters are multidimensional and complex. Marley's frozen world will draw in readers who will bask in the light of her narrative and likely seek out the earlier books. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, definedas grades 7 to 9). 2005, Viking, 320p., Ages 11 to 15.
—Donna Scanlon
Children's Literature
A professional singer and degreed musician herself, the author has created a believable world in which the power of the human voice is the channel for psi energy. Those able to tap into this extraordinary energy are essential on the "ice planet" of Nevya, where summer occurs only at five year intervals. They provide the lifesaving heat to keep the people and their protected compounds alive during the prolonged periods of extreme cold. There are even itinerate singers who travel with those who must go beyond the confines of the various Houses. The newest Conservatory-trained Cantrix, Mreen, is being sent to the House of Tarus to take over the position of a retiring Cantor. Mreen is most unusual in that she cannot utter a sound but is able to channel her energy through her playing of the filla. She uses "finger signs" to communicate with those who do not have the "gift" and cannot communicate telepathically. (ASL signers will be fascinated with this aspect of the book.) Her traveling companion, Emily, can sing and play beautifully but cannot channel her psi energy to create heat. Of course, as the story line progresses in this well-developed and realistically described world, they discover their own tremendous strengths as they endeavor to help a young child who has the "gift" but is being mistreated by her cruel stepfather. This title is set in the same world as Sing in the Light, Sing the Warmth, and Receive the Gift. With well-developed characters and enough of a variety of subplots, this fantasy addresses the very human emotions of those facing the unknown, difficult family situations, and the development of skills to deal with the universal problems that young adults faceas they venture into the world of adulthood—no matter what kind of planet they inhabit. The pace is well defined and the story line includes enough action to keep the pages turning to the satisfying ending. 2005, Viking/Penguin, Ages 12 up.
—Sheilah Egan
Marley has written several books already about the world of Nevya, but this is the first I have read. Her story of the singers who are so essential to survival on this ice world completely captivated me, so I'm sure this story could stand on its own for others too. Of course, it's so intriguing, it will encourage us to find the other books about the Singers of Nevya: Sing the Light; Sing the Warmth; Receive the Gift. In this ice-bound world, music has evolved to alter the air and create warmth. Little children who have the gift are separated from their families and spend long years in training at the Conservatory, learning the music and learning to use their psi to generate heat. When they are ready, they are sent to outposts where they are healers, and where they create the energy for heat. Marley then puts dramatic events and intriguing characters into the setting. A young girl, Emle, who is a gifted singer but for some reason lacks the ability to focus her psi to create heat, is sent to an outpost as a companion to another Cantor. There Emle becomes involved with a troubled family. An abusive stepfather is terrorizing his wife, his almost-grown stepson, Luke, and his little stepdaughter, Gwin. This plot has many ingredients of all successful YA novels: young people trying to realize their potential; young people encountering evil and struggling to prevail; young people with difficult family situations finding their way to responsible adulthood. Marley "has degrees in music and has sung professionally" and her familiarity with music obviously gives this story added believability. Another successful book she has written is The Glass Harmonica, which some of you may know.Mesmerizing, just as the music must be. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Penguin, Viking, 306p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Set in the same sphere as the "Singers of Nevya" trilogy (Ace), this is an engaging tale of a world in which only the psionic powers of the Singers (those who use music to focus energy and light) can create enough warmth for survival. At the Conservatory, Mreen is a Singer who cannot speak but can communicate psionically. Emle is the opposite; she has a beautiful voice but cannot control her psi to produce warmth and light. When Mreen is assigned to be a Cantrix at Tarus, Emle accompanies her to act as her voice. There they meet Gwin, a girl with the Gift who is abused by her stepfather. In their efforts to help her, both come to terms with their respective issues. Astute readers will guess from the start that Emle's difficulty lies in a childhood trauma, and that Mreen's muteness may be linked to her shame about her mother, a Cantrix who broke her vows of celibacy. Nevya itself is a fascinating world, reminiscent of Anne McCaffrey's Pern. Some elements are not fully explained; for example, why summer only occurs every five years, or even how long it lasts. Still, the story should attract science-fiction fans and may inspire them to seek the "Nevya" trilogy.-Karyn N. Silverman, Elizabeth Irwin High School, New York City Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Intimate human dilemmas explored against the backdrop of a harsh alien world. The primitive ice planet Nevya is only habitable through the psionic Gifts of the Cantors, whose songs create light and warmth. But Singer Emle, despite her training and talent, is unable to channel even a spark; instead, she is sent to accompany Cantrix Mreen to the holding of Tarus. Despite her prodigious Gift, Mreen is mute, needing Emle to communicate. Emle befriends the stablehand Luke, himself rendered silent and powerless by his stepfather's abuse. These three young people must each overcome the scars of their pasts and find their hidden voices to save the children of Tarus from heartless exploitation. Marley returns to the setting of an earlier trilogy with this independent story less epic in scope, but far more personal and poignant. Even the most minor or villainous characters are portrayed with sympathetic delicacy, and the spare descriptive language keenly evokes the tenuous glow of human communities against Nature's indifferent grandeur. Music plays an integral role as the provider of life and joy, but one that demands discipline and sacrifice. Whether the Singers of Nevya are new to the reader or old friends, their voices will resonate gracefully. (Science fiction. 12+)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Sold by:
Penguin Group
File size:
287 KB
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Louise Marley lives in Washington State.

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Singer in the Snow 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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SoaringLove More than 1 year ago
This book is about a girl -Emle- who can't use her "gift" the way she should be able to. She is sent to help interpret for another girl -Mreen- who cannot speak whatsoever. They travel to a city where Mreen must use her "gift" to warm an entire "House". There, Mreen and Emle become friends, Emle meets a young man -Luke- who's stepfather is horrible, and Mreen learns to live without her closest friend... Emle. Altogether this book was Nice
honorartist More than 1 year ago
I just started this book,but I can already tell it will be good. I'm not usually a big sci-fi fan, but this story isn't just science fiction. It's about two girls who are struggling to live the life of important figures in society. One who was never supposed to be born, but has incredible power. And one who is extremely hardworking, but just can't seem to accomplish her goal. It is a great book so far and it was very easy to get into.
PriscyPK More than 1 year ago
This book is great when you are looking for something to do. Believe me... when you first start reading, you won't be able to put the book down. It had me wondering throughout the entire thing! It's about a girl who finds in her heart to believe in herself. It shows us to never give up. If you want to read a book that keeps you guessing... READ THIS BOOK! You won't regret it!
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
In this inventive and well-told fantasy, Marley creates a world bound by ice and snow, where the daily ritual of quirna is all that keeps its residents from death. Those who create the ritual are called Singers, their ability to channel their Gift - a psionic power - and create warmth carefully trained at the Conservatory before they are sent out into greater society to serve. Emle is training to be a Singer, but while her technical skills are perfect, she can't control her psionic power. Frustrated and angry at the unreliability of her gift, she wonders what she'll do with her life if she can't become a full Singer.

When she's sent to a holding named Tarus to help interpret for Mreen, a new Cantrix with a great gift but without the ability to speak, it may be her last chance to master her gift. The novel deftly switches between Emle's point of view, and her struggles to not be jealous of Mreen's greater gift, and that of Mreen, as she struggles with the great responsibility placed on her shoulders in assuming her new position at Tarus, and with her shame over the circumstances of her birth. When Emle and Mreen arrive at Tarus they step right into a difficult situation with the apprentice hrussmaster, Luke, who is trying to protect his little sister, Gwin, from their abusive stepfather.

Marley unfolds a story that is rich with internal conflict, as each of her characters has to discover their own strength and path in life, and yet keeps a quick pace. Not strongly action-oriented, her novel is more about her characters and the decisions they face. By focusing on three central characters she can touch on many of the themes of adolescence; searching for meaning, struggling with the new responsibilities of adulthood, and knowing when to stand up for yourself, thus giving readers a lot they can relate to. Though this book is set in a world she has written in before, it can be read on its own even if you haven't read the others in the series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is being marketed to the young adult population well, I must be a young adult at 53 because I loved this book. It is an engaging, absorbing, enjoyable read. I also really enjoyed Louise's first trilogy and I hope the decision is made to republish that so others can enjoy it now that she's made more of a name for herself.