Singer of Souls [NOOK Book]


Leaving his life of petty crime and drug abuse behind, young Douglas flees from Minneapolis to Edinburgh, Scotland, to his stern but fairminded Grandma McLaren, who will take him in if he can support himself. Fortunately, few cities are friendlier than Edinburgh to a guitarist with a talent for spontaneous rhyme, and soon Douglas is making a decent living as the busker who can write a song about you on the spot.

But Edinburgh has its dangers ...
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Singer of Souls

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Leaving his life of petty crime and drug abuse behind, young Douglas flees from Minneapolis to Edinburgh, Scotland, to his stern but fairminded Grandma McLaren, who will take him in if he can support himself. Fortunately, few cities are friendlier than Edinburgh to a guitarist with a talent for spontaneous rhyme, and soon Douglas is making a decent living as the busker who can write a song about you on the spot.

But Edinburgh has its dangers for the unwary. The annual arts festival, biggest in Europe, draws all manner of footloose sorts, and tempted by the drugs offered by a mysterious young girl, Douglas stumbles.

What follows isn’t what he expects. Suddenly, Douglas can see the fey folk who invisibly share Edinburgh’s ancient streets—in all their beauty and terrifying cruelty. Worse, they can see him, and they’re determined to draw him into their own internecine wars--wars that are fought to the death.

At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
At the start of Stemple's wonderful fantasy debut, his first solo effort (he's collaborated with his mother, Jane Yolen, on children's music books), Douglas "Doc" Stewart, a recovering heroin addict and talented street musician, flees Minnesota for Scotland and his Grandma McLaren, who welcomes her grandson with open arms but warns, "I've buried three husbands and I'll bury you, too, if need be." Doc's subsequent success as a busker in Edinburgh strengthens his resolve to stay clean. During the Fringe arts festival, he meets a fey young woman, Aine, who gives him the gift of sight distilled in white powder he shoots into his arm. This ability to perceive the faery world puts him in grave danger after Aine is abducted by a strange priest, Father Croser, who uses his own magical sight for evil purposes. A "bogie" (or mischievous spirit) enlists Doc's assistance in rescuing Aine, but Doc soon finds himself drawn into a faeryland that's alarmingly similar to the world of addiction he thought he'd escaped forever and an erotic adventure that holds shocking consequences. Fans of Charles de Lint and Clive Barker will find much to like. Agent, Elizabeth Harding at Curtis Brown. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Deciding to break free from his drug addiction, Douglas McLaren decides to leave Minneapolis and visit his Grandma McLaren in Edinburgh. Supporting himself as a street-corner busker, he seems to be on his way to reforming himself until he meets a young woman named Aine who gives him a white powder that opens his eyes. Suddenly, Douglas can see all the faeries in Edinburgh; furthermore, he becomes caught up in their wars and finds himself fighting for his life and sanity. Musician and writer Stemple, son of fantasy author Jane Yolen, tells a strong, well-crafted tale of magic and mayhem built around one young man's discovery of a new world existing alongside the world of everyday. This strong debut belongs in most fantasy collections. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Douglas Stewart, 22, has two obsessions: guitar-playing and heroin. He has recently broken the hold the narcotic has on him but realizes that he needs to get far away from his old life in Minneapolis if he has any hope of staying clean. He flies to Edinburgh and the sanctuary that his grandmother offers. Finding that busking is a viable profession there, he uses his gift for on-the-spot composing to establish a comfortable income among tourists. But an encounter with a mysterious young woman leaves him with a vial of white powder that he can not resist. Injecting the substance does not give him the expected high; rather, it opens his eyes to the vast populations of fey folk on the streets of the city. Suddenly, he is caught up in a battle between two factions of magical creatures that have been warring for countless generations. Add to the mix a sadistic priest devoted to eradicating all such beings and the fact that Douglas's talent gives him a power in the netherworld that he barely understands and the ingredients for a highly original adventure are in place. Faintly reminiscent of Ash in the cult film Army of Darkness, Douglas is an antihero whose tragic flaws make readers root for him that much harder. Stemple blends the majesty and brutality of the faery world with the grit and pulse of contemporary society. He writes with an assurance that belies the fact that this is his first adult novel and shows himself to be a voice to be reckoned with-and much anticipated.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Library System, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Desperately trying to stay clean, ex-drug-addict Douglas Stewart flees from Minneapolis to Edinburgh, Scotland, where tough, worldly Grandma McLaren offers him a fresh start and a place to stay. Douglas, with his exceptional talent for improvising complex, personalized songs, soon makes good money as a "busker," or street musician. During the annual Edinburgh Festival, a counterculture Fringe Festival gets under way too. Guitar in hand, Douglas wows the crowds-until he's approached by an ageless lady of regal bearing who demands a private audience. She won't give her name, but when Douglas reflects on her song he goes into a trance, sings a wonderful song that vanishes the moment it comes into his head-and somehow knows that her name is Aine. Aine pays him with some white powder. Stupidly, Douglas shoots it up, but instead of getting high, he finds he can see fairy folk! Hundreds of them, of all types and aspects, are attending their own version of the Fringe. Quickly they become aware of Douglas's regard; worse, one, a demonic gray horror, gives chase. Douglas takes refuge in a church whose pastor, Father Croser, can also see the fairies-out of one eye. With what seems like practiced ease, Croser captures and dispatches the demon-but then promises to destroy Douglas's newly acquired vision by removing his eyes. Douglas desperately fights back and escapes, but now he's part of the fairy world where, he learns, Aine has chosen to involve him in some sort of internecine struggle. But why?Well-handled fantasy noir debut, with plenty of local color, arresting musical ideas, rapidly escalating gore index and a set-up promising any number of sequels.
From the Publisher
Praise for Singer of Souls:

"One of the best first novels I have ever read."

—Anne McCaffrey

"A really splendid story.'

—Steven Brust

"Singer of Souls glows with magic and folklore, realistic characters and vivid language, and has the grit, blood, and tension of good film noir."

—Emma Bull

Steven Brust
"A really splendid story."
Emma Bull
"[G]lows with magic and folklore, realistic characters and vivid language, and has the grit, blood, and tension of good film noir."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781466857513
  • Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
  • Publication date: 11/19/2013
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 240
  • File size: 248 KB

Meet the Author

A working rock-and-roll guitarist in bands such as the Tim Malloys, Cats Laughing, and Boiled in Lead, Adam Stemple has collaborated with his mother Jane Yolen on several music books for children, including The Laptime Song and Play Book and Hark! A Christmas Sampler. In 2005, Starscape published their YA collaboration Pay the PiperSinger of Souls is Stemple's first solo novel and his first novel for adults.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2011

    Its a good story

    I liked the book a lot it was interesting and had great character. My only problem was the ending, but it did make me want to read the second book so i guess it acomplished something.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2008

    Generation gap filler- MUST read

    While other reviews summarize the storyline better than I ever could, I think any review would be empty without a hearty, qualified recommendation to add this to your MUST HAVE READ list. As a 39 YO dad, I find it challenging to find good reading material for my teen children. This novel artfully grapples with the pains of addiction, imparts morality through comparison, and instill a sense of wonder in readers of all ages. My 17 year old, who can hardly be called a literary fan, consumed this book in one stint. Then re-read it 3 times since. An avid guitar player, he has now emulated Douglas' busking. This novel is not for the feint of heart, and wrestles with very real everyday problems. A great way to open the door to future discussion on hard topics with your (almost adult) children.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2005

    An awsome ride.

    Adam Stemple knowledge of all things Fey could fill an encyclopedia. And his talent for writing songs and playing music has earned him a devote following in the twin cities. He brings these 2 talents together in a gripping and gut wrenching tale that will keep you reading long after you need to get the lights out and try for atleast a few hours sleep before the alarm goes off for work in the mourning. I've read hundreds of fantasy novels and this shot right up there into the top 5. Rubbing elbows with Neil Gaimans 'American Gods' and 'the Gypsy' by Megan Lindholm and Steven Brust. Hurry up on that follow up Adam, I'm dieing to see what happens next.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 15, 2005

    Fantasy Noir

    It''s dark--and funny, a combination few can manage, especially with the swash and panache and sheer storytelling he manages. As Anne McCaffrey says of him, 'He's a natural.' I think of this as Charles de Lint meets China Mielville with a bit of Michael Swanwick on the side. I'm jealous.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    A wild urban fantasy

    An addict trying to quit, guitarist Douglas knows he must leave Minneapolis and the temptation of his friends. He is estranged from his siblings and parents, so to dry out he heads to his Grandma McLaren in Edinburgh. While awaiting a passport he cuts a deal with Twin Town Guitar owner Zack Johannson................. A few weeks later, his grandma welcomes Douglas, but sets three conditions that if he does any he is out. Douglas makes money with his guitar and a gift for rhyme. When the city hosts the annual Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe Festival, Douglas performs and does quite well until he meets Aine. She gives him a vial promising him he will see the world from a different light. He resists at first but finally takes the drug. Douglas questions his mind as he see fey folks walking the streets of the city; worse they see him with each wanting to either recruit him to their cause or kill him as Douglas learns how dangerous the war between the fey is even as humans thinks he tripped out one time too many................... SINGER OF SOULS is a wild urban fantasy starring a likable expatriate American struggling with controlling his addiction while wondering if he finally went over the edge as the only human who sees the Fey and more terrifying they see him. The story line starts off as a character study as the audience sees Douglas trying to kick the habit, but once he takes that step he feels like Alice through the looking glass. Fans will enjoy Adam Stemple¿s zany joy ride in the streets of Edinburgh from a distinctly weird perspective..................... Harriet Klausner

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