Orphan's Song

Orphan's Song

by Gillian Bronte Adams


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Her solo is a death sentence.

Deep within the world of Leira flows a melody that was sung at the beginning of time by Emhran, the Master Singer. Now it is broken, buried, forgotten. But in each generation, a Songkeeper arises to uphold the memory of the Song against those who want it silenced When Birdie first hears the Song coming from her own mouth, her world shatters. She is no longer simply an orphan but the last of a hunted people. Forced to flee for her life, she must decide whom to trust--a traveling peddler, a streetwise thief, or a mysterious creature who claims to know her past.

With enemies at her heels and war threatening to tear her homeland apart, Birdie soon discovers an overwhelming truth: the fate of Leira may hinge on one orphan's Song.forever.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683700289
Publisher: Gilead Publishing
Publication date: 10/14/2016
Series: Songkeeper Chronicles Series , #1
Pages: 289
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Gillian Bronte Adams is a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author from the great state of Texas. A love of epic stories and a desire to present truth in a new way drew her to the realm of fantasy. During the day, she manages the equestrian program at a youth camp. But at night, she kicks off her boots and spurs, pulls out her trusty laptop, and transforms into a novelist.

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"Wretched girl! What are you doing?"

Madame's voice jolted Birdie to her senses, away from the world of light and beauty woven by the melody that still sang in her ears and back to the damp stone of the kitchen. She lurched to her feet, cringing at the sight of Madame's upraised hand.

"Please, Madame —"

Madame's hand landed on her ear, and the last floating notes of the melody were lost in an explosion of stinging pain. Birdie stumbled. Her feet tangled in the squat three-legged stool, tumbling her down onto the warm stone of the hearth. The flames licked at her long hair, and she scrambled away from the fire.

"Daydreamin' again? When there's work t' be done?" Madame loomed over her, hands propped on her angular hips. "Worthless! That's what you are. Worthless!"

Birdie stared numbly from the dripping wooden spoon in her hand to the pot of blackened porridge bubbling over the fire. The smell of burnt food stung her nostrils.

Madame yanked her to her feet. "What were you doing?"

Birdie opened her mouth to speak, but the words withered on her tongue. It would never do to mention the melody. Perhaps it was best to say nothing.

Madame took a step forward, bony hand held out in front of her, finger jabbing toward Birdie's face like a spear. "Mad as a night moth," she declared. "A lazy, useless, worthless child! That's what you are! Useless since the day Dalton picked you up off the road! Twelve years now, I've put up with this nonsense. And what have you done in return? Lolled around like a daisy. Spouted insane nonsense and caused endless trouble for my poor sons!"

Birdie caught sight of Kurt and Miles, the "poor sons" in question, peering at her around the door frame. Poor sons? More like two terrors. Miles stuck his tongue out before Kurt jerked him out of sight.

"Well, I've no use for a half-wit or a mad girl! A girl whose own parents didn't care enough to bother with and abandoned to the kindness of strangers ..."

The words stung more than Madame's blows, but Birdie had heard them all before. Worthless. Half-wit. Mad girl. On and on Madame's rant continued, until she could no longer distinguish the individual words.

She studied the stone floor beneath her toes, clenching her fists to hold back her rising anger. She had to get out of here ... had to get away. Without a word, she spun on her heels, pushed past the startled woman, and tore through the common room out into the clear light of day. She slammed the front door, enclosing Madame's furious shouts within the walls of the inn.

Birdie ran. Past the barn, across the dusty inn yard, and out over the hills surrounding the Sylvan Swan Inn. Autumn grass crinkled beneath her feet. Blazing orange fire flowers burst as she brushed past, exploding into wild puffs of floating petals that drifted away on the wind. She ran until she gasped for breath and stumbled to her knees in a wide open space. Sobs rose in her throat, smothering her anger, and she flung herself flat against the cool brown earth and cried into her arms.

Deep below, a sepulchral rumbling from the depths of the earth — a distant melody — rose to greet her. Warm as a summer sunrise, the song caught her up in its embrace. The tears dried on her face. Her sorrow eased. The song was familiar — she had known it all her life — and yet new and wondrous, something too great to be fully known or understood. It spiraled upward, carrying her soul to reach for the sky. Then it stopped abruptly and the melody faded away.

She sat alone on the hillside, the only noise the ordinary sounds of an autumn afternoon: the whispering of windswept grasses, the trilling whistles of the Karnoth birds winging northward to the ice and snow ere Winter Turning, and the peaceful munching of herds of sheep grazing in the troughs between one hill and the next.

Disappointment settled over Birdie. Always it was the same, every time she heard the song. Five notes without resolution. A beginning, constantly repeating, without an end. And yet the five notes were so beautiful that her heart ached at the sound, and every fiber of her being yearned to hear more.

She closed her eyes and strained to listen.

"Agh, ye tummy-grubbin' bit o' crab meat!"

Birdie bolted upright at the voice.

"Will ye not move on?"

It seemed to be coming from just over the next rise. The speaker — a man — sighed heavily. "Ye won't, eh? Then, by Turning, I'll make ye ..." There was a dull thwack followed by a yelp. When the man spoke again, his voice sounded pained. "Well fine then, have it yer own way. Here's as good a place as any t' break fer an afternoon snack. An' ye can wipe that silly grin off'n yer silly donkey face, ye pitiful blatherin' slewstop!"

A smile spread across Birdie's face. There was only one man who could invent an insult like that — traveling peddler, Amos McElhenny. "Amos!"

She broke into a run, raced to the top of the rise, and stopped, overlooking the little valley on the other side. At the bottom of the slope a tall, pack-laden donkey stood knee-deep in the grass at the base of a hallorm tree. The donkey's legs were splayed and his head bent down — an image of defiance — but of the speaker, Amos, she could see no sign.

"Amos? Where are you?"

"Birdie, lass? Is that you?" Amos appeared, sitting up out of the grass beside the donkey. He struggled to his feet and waded uphill toward her, tugging his plumed cap down over his wild red hair. He dusted the dirt off his overcoat and breeches and readjusted his belt around his stout girth. Birdie ran down the hill toward him and, a moment later, found herself engulfed in his strong hug.

"Perfect timin', lass. Couldn't be better. Just in time to join me an' old Balaam here fer a wee afternoon snack."

He released her and hustled back to the donkey, Balaam. Birdie followed as Amos undid the straps holding the packsaddle in place and let it drop to the ground. He dug through the packs and pulled out a skillet and a string of sausages.

"Gather some wood, lass, an' hurry. I'm starved."

Birdie collected fallen limbs from beneath the hallorm tree and tossed them to Amos. Then she scrambled up the tree and perched in a comfortable crook where she could look down on the peddler at work.

"But aren't you coming to the Sylvan Swan tonight, Amos?" she asked as the peddler employed his tinderbox.

"Oh, aye. O' course I am. Don't I always? Just got hungry, that's all. Decided 'twas high time fer a snack."

"With the Sylvan Swan less than a mile away?"

"Aye, lass, I've got t' eat my fill before I arrive. Ye know Madame — none too fond o' me an' my lack o' coin. Besides, who could enjoy a meal with that bollywag breathin' fire down his neck? Whew. Gives me the shivers, just thinkin' about it."

The way he said it made Birdie shiver up in the tree, and a little shower of dark green leaves sprinkled Amos's head. Whatever a bollywag was, fire-breathing certainly seemed to describe Madame. There would be flames aplenty awaiting Birdie when she returned to the inn.

She sank back against the obliging tree trunk, hugging her arms as a chill breeze snuck through the threadbare cloth of her dress and blew her dark hair back from her face, twisting it around a cluster of branches.

From his flint and steel, Amos got a spark that he slowly blew into flame, then he settled back on his heels and dropped sausages into a skillet. "Actually lass, truth is I only stopped here because old grumpy-guts-Balaam decided 'twas time fer a break. I've learned after fifteen years with that fool beast: when he makes up his mind t' somethin', there's no gettin' around it. Best t' sit back, break out the food, an' wait 'til he's ready t' move again." He chuckled to himself, and then peered at her. "Ye're quiet today, lass. What's botherin' ye?"

Birdie studied her hands. Black smudges from the hearth covered her palms. She could still hear Madame's angry tirade ringing in her ears.

Worthless. Half-wit. Mad girl.

Dare she tell Amos the truth? She only saw the traveling peddler every few weeks when he passed through the village of Hardale on his circuit. But he had always been a friend.

"Are you sure you want to know?"

"Course I want t' know."

He was the only one she could tell, and she had to tell someone. Mind made up, she peered down at him through the overlapping branches. "You don't think I'm ... insane ... do you, Amos?"

"Whatever put such an idea in yer head?" He stirred the sausage sizzling over the flames. The tantalizing aroma of cooking meat rose in the cloud of smoke, and Birdie's stomach rumbled.

"Everyone else does."

"Why d' ye say that? I mean"— Amos shifted on his heels and wiped the sweat from his brow with a red-spotted handkerchief —"why d' ye say that everyone thinks ye're insane?"

"I've heard them talking about it. They say I'm not right in the head. That something's wrong with me. And I ... well ..."

"Go ahead, lassie, spit it out."

"Well, I'm starting to wonder if they might be right. I hear things all the time, but now more than ever before. I hear ... music."

"D' ye now?" A smile creased Amos's bronze, weathered face. "Well, that's not so bad. Naught like a cheerful song t' help pass the time o' day."

"No, it's not like that." She sighed. How could she explain it to the peddler? It wasn't like the ordinary working songs farmers' wives sang in the fields, or the bawdy sea shanties drunken sailors belted out at the top of their lungs, or even the magnificent ballads traveling bards occasionally sang at the Sylvan Swan.

"It's always the same. Well," she hastened to clarify, "not exactly the same. It's the same five notes, but it always sounds different, like a different voice is singing it."

Even as she spoke, the notes echoed in her ears. The voice, a deep throaty hum like the droning of a dragonfly's wings, was joined by another, a jouncing baritone. Five notes repeated, lowest, high, middle, low, low.

Haunting, echoing, reminding.

"Do you hear it, Amos?"

The peddler solemnly shook his head.

Birdie's breath, pent up in her excitement, exhaled from her lips in an audible sigh. She dropped to the ground and sprawled on her back in the soft grass. She shouldn't be surprised at Amos's response. No one else ever heard the music.

As a child of five, she had first heard the ethereal melody floating through the summer grasses and ran inside, bursting with excitement to tell Madame. Her joy had earned a cuff to the ear. The Song returned several times as she grew up, each more real and beautiful than before, yet never remaining for long. A short spell, a breath, and then it was gone again and she knew not when it would return.

But now she heard it almost constantly. Madame scoffed at her "fantasies," and the two terrors never wearied of teasing her about it. She couldn't summon the courage to question Master Dalton on the subject, and now surely Amos too would think her insane. She must be. Why else would she hear a song that no one else could?

Amos cleared his throat, signaling the end of the conversation, stabbed a sausage link with his knife and bit into it. His face melted into a satisfied grin as he chewed slowly, soaking in the pleasure of the moment.

"Good?" Birdie sniffed appreciatively. The conversation might not have turned out as she'd hoped, but it hadn't been as bad as she'd expected either.

Amos speared another sausage and offered it to her. Her stomach rumbled — a reminder that Madame had deprived her of her last two meals. She took a bite and forced herself to chew slowly, ignoring the urge to gulp it down at once.

"Have some more, lass. There's naught t' satisfy like a belly full o' meat an' laughter, as me mother used t' say!"

After they finished eating, Amos clambered to his feet and stuffed his supplies into the packsaddle while Birdie put out the fire. The peddler tossed the packsaddle onto the donkey's high-withered back and cinched it tightly. Balaam peered over his shoulder at the mountain of packs, and an expression of resigned misery darkened his brown eyes.

Amos smacked the donkey's neck. "Reckon we're both due fer a rest. Only a few more days an' then we'll be headed home to my mother in Bryllhyn. Visit's long overdue."

Bryllhyn. Somehow the name filled her with an incredible longing. It sounded like a quaint, homey sort of place, like she always dreamed of.

Birdie rested her chin on her knees and gazed at the western horizon. It taunted and beckoned to her at the same time, whispering of lands beyond the Midlands and the narrow confines of the inn, of a place beyond Madame's reach and the two terrors' mockery.

And somewhere out there, before the sky touched the sea, was the little village of Bryllhyn where Amos's mother lived.

The place Amos called home.

"How is life at the Sylvan Swan?" Amos squatted beside her, wrinkles crinkling his forehead. "Are they treatin' ye well? What about those two terrors?"

Birdie studied the ground. Somehow Amos always knew when something was wrong.

"Ah, so I've struck on it. Been gettin' ye in trouble again have they?"

Her cheeks burned. "No, it was my fault. I can't ever seem to get anything right."

She was about to say more, but the music drifted over her and she felt silent, spellbound by the beauty of the five repeated notes. Then a second voice joined in with a different melody. Dark and terrible, a hideous distortion of the first song. It wrapped around her like a plume of smoke, draining the air from her lungs.

"Lassie? What's wrong?"

"Did ... did you just hear that?"

He shook his head.

"The song," she insisted. "Didn't you hear it?"

"Lassie, I —"

A thought leapt into her mind. "Perhaps if I sing it for you!" She jumped up and opened her mouth to sing. For the first time the melody poured from her lips, pure and golden like drops of liquid sunlight. The effect was startling, even to her.

Silence fell upon the hillside. The crisp autumn breeze stilled. The swaying grasses froze. High above, birds halted amid flight, hanging motionless in the vast blue sea. She shuddered under the sudden weight, as if everything was pressing in around her, drawing near to watch and listen. Even the trees seemed to have bent over, dipping their gnarled boughs in silent but rapt attention.

A hand clapped over her mouth. "Stop it, lassie," Amos hissed in her ear. "Stop it now!" He removed his hand slowly, eyes darting to scan the horizon. Worry and fear marred his white face, and his hands trembled as he let them fall to his side.

Birdie stared in astonishment. Amos frightened?

"What was that?" he demanded. "Some kind o' witchery?" Sweat beaded his forehead.

She shook her head but could find no words.

He grasped her by the shoulders, searching her face with his eyes. "Where did ye hear that song? Who taught it t' ye? Does Dalton know about this?"

"Nobody taught it to me." She swallowed to moisten her dry throat. "I just heard it."

"Well, ye mustn't sing it again."

"I don't understand."

He released her and sank heavily to the ground. "That song. 'Tis unnatural. 'Tisn't right. There's somethin' about it that reeks o' ... I don't know! Ye just mustn't sing it, d' ye understand? Never again."

The deep-throated whinny of a horse broke into the conversation. Birdie spun around. Beside her, Amos stood, fumbling for a weapon, finding nothing but the knife at his belt.

A mounted stranger reined his horse to a stop before them. He was clad in black armor and wore a long silver cape that hung down to his booted feet. The visor of his helmet was raised, revealing a swarthy face shadowed by a black beard. A thin-bladed sword rested in an ornamented scabbard at his side. His left hand flashed in movement, and the sword sprang forth, red-stained tip pointing toward Amos and Birdie.

Hand on Birdie's arm, Amos slowly sidestepped toward Balaam, pulling her with him.

The stranger's voice halted any further movement. "Drop your weapon." His horse — a massive, armored creature with an odd, reddish-black mane and tail — danced in place, but he scarcely seemed to notice, moving with the horse like a tree swaying in the wind.

Amos growled and his gaze flickered from side to side. The stranger's horse screamed — such a wild, harsh sound Birdie had never heard before — and reared, pawing at the sky. Amos threw down his knife and yanked Birdie behind the protective shield of the donkey's protruding belly. Balaam hee-hawed nervously but did not move.

"Send the girl over here," the stranger commanded in a cool, distant voice. "I want to talk to her."

"Stay still," Amos mouthed at Birdie. His right hand inched toward the packsaddle. "No need," he called out to the stranger. "She can talk just fine from here."

Birdie rose on her toes to peer over the tall donkey's back. The gray horse snorted and pawed the ground. A leather skirt, patch-worked with metal plates, covered the horse's chest and rump, while a metal mask concealed its face from view — for protection probably — but it made the steed look sinister, like a statue rather than a living beast.


Excerpted from "Orphan's Song"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Gillian Bronte Adams.
Excerpted by permission of Gilead Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Orphan's Song 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Lavay Byrd More than 1 year ago
Oh, wow! I am so glad I read this book by Gillian Bronte Adams... only disappointed that it was over! (And what a cliffhanger... with a hint of hope!) Orphan's Song follows the journey of a young orphan girl name Birdie, who has no knowledge of who she is... or the powerful gift growing inside of her. Her only friend, a peddler with a warrior's heart name Amos, believes it is a curse. But when she hears and sings the Song sung by the Master Singer since the beginning of time, her world is shattered. Chased by enemies seeking to use her power, Birdie is thrust on a journey to discover her identity as the last of hunted Songkeepers, encountering creatures and beings-- from an elusive talking cat and a mysterious griffen to a streetwise theif name Ky and a deadly Kehlari Marshal. And discovering the One who calls her. This was such a great beginning of an epic fantasy worth reading! The worldbuilding was fantastic and unique in itself, full of creatures both familiar and fantastical. And I can't help but love each character... except the unpleasant ones... as their history and growth emerge in each turn of a page. There's even the mystery of the enemy's plans that keeps you on the edge of the seat... and leaves you longing for the next book! Another epic fantastic read by the incredibly talented Gillian Bronte Adams since "Out of Darkness Rising"! I highly recommended for young adults 14 and up who are looking for unique fantasy!
JonnyAvery More than 1 year ago
Orphan's Song is the first book in the Songkeeper Chronicles series. It tells the story of Birdie a girl who is an Orphan. She starts to hear a song and can't explain what it is. Along the way she meets a boy named Ky and Amos who feels drawn to be her protector. Gillian Bronte Adams weaves the story of the three together perfectly in the introductory book of this series making you want to jump straight into the second book Songkeeper when you finish this one. The writing is excellent and the story is told in a way you always want to keep turning to the next page and chapter. It doesn't disappoint.
katelynsbolds More than 1 year ago
Think Lord of the Rings with a female protagonist. This epic fantasy is filled to the brim with vivid characters, intense fight scenes, and incredible world-building. The allegory in the story adds to the depth and meaning of the books and definitely makes the reader look inward. Some writers write fantasy, others breathe it, and that's how this book felt. Gillian Bronte Adams is a talented writer and I look forward to the continuation of The Songkeeper Chronicles.
Sierra_Faith More than 1 year ago
Genre: Christian, Fantasy. Age Range: 15+ for violence. Favorite Quote: “I've freed you once tonight, and I would rather not do it again. I prefer to commit treason as few times as possible.” Series: Book two in the Songkeeper Chronicles, needs to be read in order. Stars: 5 out of 5 stars. I love this book and the characters. I was sucked into the story and everyone's life. If you're a lover of action packed fantasies, pick this series up! I find it unique that the series isn’t just focused on two teenagers, but we get an adult as a main character, too! And Amos is a great main character at that! I love his humor, his lilt and his relationship with Birdie. I’m glad we get to know a little more about him in this book. We finally get to see more of Ky and the underground! The underground is an organization of teens and kids who live underground, obviously, and steal to feed themselves. It’s quite an interesting network! Gillian did an amazing job of developing the personalities of all the minor characters, which were quite a few! Throughout the book, I wanted to squeeze Ky and fend off anyone who dared hurt him. I feel so bad for him… and I can’t say why because of spoilers. Ky has matured greatly because of his experiences, he is, a lot stronger and a great leader, . He was so protective of Meli, a young girl from the underground. He’s going to make a great father one day! Birdie is an interesting protagonist. She’s so confused about the song and her family, and no one can answer her questions. I really felt for her and her struggles, and at the end I cried for her and was ready to hurt everyone who even looked at her wrong. I like her a lot more in this book, and she’s currently competing with Ky for my favorite character. She’s stronger, bolder and just plain out awesome. I thought it was different that there were lions in this book! Riding horses is outdated, apparently. It was really unique and I wish they were there throughout the whole book. I have to talk about Gundhrold, the griffin. He was quite an interesting character! He wants to help Birdie, but more often than not he isn't around when she was in trouble. I love the conversations between Gundhrold and Amos! Amos wants “his girl” to stay safe and sound, and away from all the action. While Gundhrold thinks she is perfectly fine out there and no harm will come to her. So they clash often, which makes for some great conversations! Highlight to read minor spoiler. Won't effect you unless you've read the first book. I didn’t really like the betrayal that happened. It was almost identical to the one in the first book, and it was obvious (to me at least) that he wasn’t to be trusted. EEnd spoiler. You Might Want to Know: There is a scene at the end that is scary/creepy, so I would caution young readers. About the Author: I'm a sword-wielding, horse-riding, coffee-loving speculative fiction author! Blog and Facebook. *I received this book from the author, Gillian Bronte Adams, and the publisher, Enclave Publishing, in exchange for my honest review.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved Orphan's Song from the very first page. Masterfully written, with a gripping story, very distinct characters, and a fantasy world of wonderful depth, this is an exciting read. I can hardly wait to see what the next book in this series brings.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Ryan Priest for Readers' Favorite Orphan’s Song, Book One of The Songkeeper Chronicles by Gillian Bronte Adams is a wonderful tale of adventure, mystery, and self-discovery. It follows the story of two children. Firstly, Birdie who is an orphan girl living under the care of an inn keeper. She hears things normal people don't. Some call it a gift, others a curse, but whatever it may be, this ability is about to throw Birdie into an adventure that will lead her to heights of happiness, but also into depths of despair. Ultimately, the adventure will reveal to her things about herself that will only compel deeper questions and much more mystery. The second character is Ky, a young orphan boy living on the streets. He steals for a living and is a part of a deeper underground organization of orphans. He is content, though not happy with life, but when the leader of the underground brings him into a plot that puts the underground along with the lives of the orphans at risk, Ky will be forced to make a decision between what he believes to be right and what he is told is right. The choices made by both orphans will place them on a collision course. Together they must fight the evil in the world as well as the darkness within themselves. This is a fabulous story filled with intriguing and lovable characters. Whether it be a talking cat, a mysterious peddler, two bumbling dwarves, or rough and tough orphans, the reader is bound to fall in love with them all. I enjoyed this book tremendously and am looking forward to reading more from Gillian Bronte Adams. She is one of my new favorite authors and I am excited to be one of the first to watch her potential career as a great author take shape. If you are a fantasy fan, this is the book for you.
j2starshine More than 1 year ago
I won this in a giveaway and couldn't wait to read it.  This story follows the orphan Birdie who has a special gift that she knows nothing about, only that she is different and everyone hates her because of it. Everyone except the peddler Amos, but is he who he says he is? I enjoyed the story, the characters, and the story world. I would have liked to have known more, but we are learning right along with Birdie, so that makes sense. Although, I can relate to her frustration when everyone else seemed to know more about her and her gift. I got turned around a bit about their locations, thinking they were heading away from some place only to find them returning to it. I would have loved a map!  The writing felt geared toward a younger audience, but flowed well. Kind of had a Donita K. Paul feel to it. And what a way to end it! I'm looking forward to seeing what a Songkeeper truly is, if Amos embraces his true identity, and how all the events will play out.  If you like Christian fantasy like the DragonKeeper Chronicles, you'll like this one.
Laura_Pol More than 1 year ago
Wow what an epic adventure! It was so good even if there were some places that were a little violent/gory (which is the only reason I’m giving this novel 4.5 stars rather than 5 stars). From the beginning I fell in love with all the characters! They were all so fleshed out as well unique with pains and struggles of their own. I will admit that I did go through a short spell of being mad at Amos, but once I found out more of his past I got a better understanding of why he acted the way he did. I think the one thing that really hit me about this book is that despite what others might say of who we need to be (or not be), it’s important for us to embrace who God calls us to be. There might be people along the way who try to protect us or even take advantage of us due to God’s calling on our lives, but if were being who God created us to be then that’s all that matters (even if were unsure of why and how). The world building was also excellent, especially with Ky running down all the alleys and what not. I had no trouble visualizing all the places and people living there. Gillian did a great job of bringing the story to life overall and I am so excited for book two. She throws in some suspense, surprises, and of course a wonderful adventure (even if there is sadness along the way). I would recommend this to fantasy lovers, ages 13 and up.
CelticForestDweller More than 1 year ago
I find it hardest to review the books I love the most. There's a reason I've never written a review for The Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Prydain, etc... Something about their greatness and the depth of my love for them makes it virtually impossible for me to even attempt to review certain books. It's a daunting task. How do I do justice to them? How do I sum up in a review with my own feeble words the vast awesomeness of how much I loved a book? I'm going to try, though, in this case. Because ORPHAN'S SONG is definitely one of those books. Before I can get to the useful part of this review, I just have to squeal a little. ALL THE FEEEEEEELS!!! I CAN'T EVEN. When I finished, I was flailing around and babbling incoherently to my sister, trying to explain how much I loved it and how many feels it gave me. (...Much of which is spoiler-ish to even mention.) BUT SO MANY FEELS. AND THE CHARACTERS. I LOVE ALL OF THEM. YES, ALL. BIRDY AND KY AND AMOS AND CADE! CADE CADE CADE. AND A CERTAIN SOMEBODY WHO I CANNOT MENTION BECAUSE IT IS SECRET BUT OH MY GOODNESS I DON'T KNOW IF I EVER HAD SO MANY CONFLICTING FEELS BEFORE. AAAAAAH. There is my overall opinion. ;) So now that's out of the way, here are the reasons WHY I loved ORPHAN'S SONG so much. The characters are a big part of it, but I'm going to get to them in a little while. The plot itself was exciting and awesome--so much adventure and peril and epicness! I loved how it followed different points of view. When the characters all converged I was almost squealing with excitement! I love that feeling of following different characters and you see them about to come together and then they do, and just YES. I loved the writing--it flows in a way that is natural but beautifully crafted. And the SONG. I loved everything about the Song. It was done gorgeously! Eeep. I also like Christian fantasy when it's done right, and I felt it was done extremely well... It fit in perfectly and was uplifting. Sometimes fantasy worlds are hard pressed to hit the right balance between being full of fantasy, magic, wonder, strangeness... but also being believable. The world in ORPHAN'S SONG was beautiful and wild and dangerous, and I loved it. It felt somehow natural, and not even put on display like many fantasy worlds; it was all there, but neither over-stressed, nor too much in the background. The Underground was awesome! Its literal undergroundness and all the youngsters organized like a delightful mix of Peter Pan and Ender's Game (the good parts of both). I don't believe that I've EVER read a book with characters who were more realistically HUMAN than in ORPHAN'S SONG. And by human, I don't mean flawed, or relateable; I mean REAL. I like characters who are straightforwardly good or bad... I'm tired of the ''flaw'' argument for ''realistic'' characters. The bad characters and the good characters were all noticeably bad or good. But the bad ones... they had some spark of decency or something that made me connect with them; the good ones each had their own problems, and I even had uncertainties about some, being unsure if they would remain good or if they would make the wrong choice... But I loved all the characters (okay, with the exception of the Takhran), and they didn't seem to me to be crafted figments of an author's imagination, trying to have the right mix of virtues and flaws in appropriate balance to make them ''real'' or ''human''... They WERE real and human. I can't explain it very well, but I don't think I've hardly ever read a book with characters like this, who seemed that much like real people. I don't know how Gillian Bronte Adams did it, but I'm in awe. As for the individual characters... Birdie was a fabulous heroine! I loved her and just wanted to hug her the whole time. It's actually rare for me to like a female MC very much, since normally they annoy me or are too wimpy or too much of a tough-girl. Birdie was perfect, though. She had a quiet strength, relateable but brave, that I loved. Amos... What can one even say about Amos? He's an absolute awesome delight. I love his stubbornness and loyalty and occasional grumpiness and Scottish accent and just everything about him! EEEEEEE. Ky was fantastic--I enjoyed him a ton and can't wait to see more of him! Clever thief-lads are some of my favorite kinds of characters, and he was just great. AND CADE. The leader of the Underground, he's so awesome and probably my favorite, if I can even pick one (which is difficult). I absolutely loved Cade! SO MUCH. THE GRIFFON. WAS. PERFECT. I wish there was more with him! I also liked Hendryk. Is that weird? I just thought he was done really well as someone who's just a normal soldier, so we can kind of see his point of view even though he's with the badguys. I also loved how he kept popping up everywhere. As for complaints... yes, I did have a couple. I was a little annoyed at how we kept being in a certain character's point of view, but we still didn't see all the secrets that character knew, even though we kept getting glimpses of them in thought-processes--but it would suddenly stop right before it got to the important thing. That's one of my particular annoyances in books, where the character whose head we're in lets us see everything they're thinking... EXCEPT for the one particular teeny-tiny-enormous secret that is deliberately being hid from us until ''the right moment''. Just. Meh. I understand why it's done, but it doesn't keep me from being quite impatient whenever I find it in a book. It would work fine in a movie, with microscopic flash-backs or whatever, but in a movie we're not in the character's HEAD. By the time we learned the secret I'm talking of (which I do admit I was dying to learn), I had mostly guessed it already, so although it was awesome, I was still left a bit with a feeling of being annoyed with the device of how the secret was kept veiled. One warning: the book sort of ends on a cliff-hanger. Like, a lot. But, unlike in most reviews where I talk of cliff-hangers, I'm not going to shriek incoherently about my need for a-sequel-right-NOW-get-to-it-at-once-author-do-you-hear? Nope. In this case, I want the sequel SO much that . . . I can wait. And I will. As long as it takes. Even if the author forgets about the series and goes on to write something else for a decade or two (which is, I hope, unlikely) before releasing the second book, I will still be waiting. I will wait patiently for the moment when I can hold book 2 in the Songkeeper Chronicles in my hand, open it up to the first page, and continue this journey with the characters I love, in this intriguing fantasy land, by this author who has captured the heart of a fabulous story on paper and shared it with fortunate readers. (Technically, I did receive a free e-copy of this book in return for my honest review--many thanks to the author! But I also bought the paperback as soon as it came out because I needed to own it; and I read most of it out of that. All of that being said, I was in no way required to be positive and these are my own personal opinions.)