Delphernia Undersea wants to sing. But everyone on Blightsend knows music belongs to the Masters — and girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea.
On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it. But Delphernia can’t make shimmer. She would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Outside the stone dome, the sea breathes like a wild beast, the sky watches with stars like eyes, and even the gardens have claws. Outside, secrets fall silent in halls without sound. And outside, Delphernia is caught — between the island’s sinister Custodian and its mysterious Childer-Queen. Between a poem-speaking prince and a girl who feels like freedom. And in a debut that glimmers with hope and beauty, freedom — to sing, to change, to live — is precisely what’s at stake.
|Product dimensions:||5.60(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||10 - 14 Years|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Twelve-year-old Delphernia is a turnaway girl. She lives on Blightsend, a strange little island that seems to be ruled by the sea and lives inside in the cloisters. The job of the turnaway girls is to make gold by turning music into shimmer. They are not allowed to sing or the sea will take them. Deplhernia maybe a turnaway girl but she can’t make shimmer, she also has too many thoughts which annoy her teacher – Mother Nine. Plus, she really wants to sing. Once a year masters come to choose a turnaway girl and those left become like slaves to Mother Nine. Just when all hope is lost and it seems that Delphernia won’t be chosen, a saviour comes for her. It is now her time to experience the outside, see the sky and be free. However, the outside is not as nice as it first seems and is full of mysteries. The Turnaway Girls is an unusual, yet enchanting book about the plight of one twelve-year-old girl who has been brought up to believe she is nothing more than a girl to serve others and not worthy. A turnaway girl is someone who as a baby turns away from their reflection in the mirror placed inside their cot. They are brought up to turn music into shimmer (gold). Their purpose is to line the pockets of their masters. As a baby the girls have part of their hearts taken, the part that stops them asking questions, however Delphernia was born at the time of a festival and so part of her heart wasn’t taken, because of this she has lots of questions and as she is different from the other girls she feels like she doesn’t fit in. This all infuriates Mother Nine who sees fit to punish her for any little thing she does wrong, Mother Nine doesn’t like different. The story is about a young girl having felt like she doesn’t belong for the last twelve years suddenly realising that there is a big world outside of the cloister. She discovers that there are other people who feel like they don’t fit in and that sometimes you have to fight for what you believe in and be who you want to be. The book is intriguing and poetic. At times it was a little confusing and I did re-read sections yet never once did I feel put out by this. This is a powerful debut from author Hayley Chewins and I’m sure lots of people will be able to identify with Delhernia about not being seen as ‘normal’. As her friend Linna says, ‘Odd people are the best’.
Lately I’ve begun to wonder who MG novels are written for— the children themselves, their parents or the teachers or librarians. As other reviewers have said, the prose here is rich (and depending on the reader, demanding). It’s the sort of thing adults both admire and want to see children admire. As such I think it’s the sort of thing kids might be assigned to read, or maybe receive as a gift. If an adult is impressed with this story, instead of either of these, I’d urge you to make time (in the classroom or at home) for reading it aloud. If my kids are any measure, children’s patience with, and connection to, a story will increase with the adults’ investment of time. A side-note for the people who’ve noticed the oppression and misogyny themes - I’ve sometimes wondered how to teach children to take these seriously when stories treat them as both over-the-top and rare. That’s a topic that each caregiver must decide on their own how to address, but especially if you choose to take the time to share this story, I’d suggest you mention these things are based in reality. I believe society’s collective difficulty to believe the hurts of others is tied to the way extremes have been safely tucked away in the category labeled, “Fiction.” My thanks to Candlewick Press and Net Galley for providing an electronic copy for my to review.
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* What an absolutely magical, heartfelt, wonderful story. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful this book is. Even as an adult, this story is so much and if I’d read it fifteen years ago, it easily would have been a favorite. I wasn’t sure how weird this was going to be, because the description is a bit strange, but it is absolutely wonderful and if you like fantasy at all, definitely give this a read, because: Wow! Chewins has created a fascinating world in which everything has a place and function. Girls who turn away from their reflections as infants are trained as “turnaway girls,” growing up separate from the outside world to learn how to turn music into gold. Boys with a talent for music become music-makers and get to choose a turnaway girl for themselves once they become of age. There is no room for differences or otherness. On top of that, one man is trying to take complete control for himself and is doing this by cutting down everyone else. There are cautionary tales about the one who was different and didn’t conform, so she was swallowed by the sea; children are warned by this story to make sure to fall in line. Also, not only are the turnaway girls now separate from the rest of society, but their matron has been taught how to take away all their curiosity as well; who they are as individuals are literally sucked away by a woman following orders so that they can fall into line with the rest of society. So you have the main character who is a turnaway girl; she is supposed to be silent, but she loves to sing. I absolutely loved that Chewins added a Music-Maker who decided she didn’t want to act like a boy anymore. It was such a powerful moment when the main character realized that she wasn’t the only “other” in the universe; there were people like her who didn’t fit this mold that their society had created for themselves. Even just the descriptions of the main character hiding away to sing were so poignant and moving and so relatable; I think we’ve all had those moments where we take time for ourselves just to be ourselves without having to worry about others’ judgments. This story speaks to a deeper sense about power, identity, and the lengths people go to in order to not rock the boat or get in trouble. It’s a powerful tale that younger people will appreciate so much, made beautiful and fascinating by the narrative Chewins has woven around these issues. I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s amazing.
This book was extremely descriptive in the beginning almost to the point of slowing down the pace of the action. I really liked the lyrical nature of the prose as an adult but it may not keep the attention of younger readers who are used to an attention-grabbing beginning. I felt the world was very unique and described in such a way that the reader is completely submerged. There are some moments of abuse towards the main character. There are themes of being told you are nothing and rising above. There are deep themes of identity, self-worth, and it is an overall empowering message. Thank you to Netgalley and Candlewick Press for a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.