Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule tells the story of Sing as she starts at a music conservatory and gets pulled into a world where creatures from stories have come alive even though she’s just trying to get the lead role in the upcoming school opera. The fantasy elements of Strange Sweet Song are pulled from a fabled opera written by the conservatory’s founder and the setting evokes imagery of mist-covered woods and bright eyes shining in the dark. If you enjoy stories involving music and singing, you definitely have to check out Strange Sweet Song.
Note: I received Strange Sweet Song from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
Published by St. Martin's Press on March 11, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Gothic, Paranormal Romance, YA
Page Length: 336 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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A young soprano enrolls in a remote music academy where nothing, not even her mysterious young vocal coach, is as it seems
Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right.
Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school's production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary?
Sing must work with the mysterious Apprentice Nathan Daysmoor as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But Nathan has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.
- Strange Sweet Song brings a fresh mythos to fantasy by basing the magic of the nearby forest on an opera that as far as I can tell doesn’t actually exist. There is a giant cat that will either grant your deepest wish or rip your throat out, crows that aren’t all that they appear, and a forest that holds secrets as old as the school itself. After reading so many fantasy books, it was awesome to encounter magic that I had never read about before.
- The conservatory setting in Strange Sweet Song was a lot of fun. It leads to all the things many readers love about boarding school settings, while having a fresh spin. I’ve never learned much about that path that talented young musicians can follow, so it was interesting to see what going to a conservatory for high school might be like.
- I am a huge fan of music, particularly singing, and studied it as a hobby throughout high school and college. Therefore, I loved the heavy singing element in Strange Sweet Song and the accuracy with which it was portrayed. I completely understood Sing’s fear and determination to present her voice to the world and make it the best she could.
- There are several plot lines at the beginning of Strange Sweet Song and they don’t make a lot of sense until you realize that two of them are happening in the past relative to Sing’s time. This wasn’t indicated at all at the beginning of the chapters so I was quite confused for a bit. But now you know, so hopefully that will help your reading experience!
- Yes, her name is Sing and she sings. There is a brief explanation for why that is the case (famous singing mother naming child that because she can), but it still led me to a bit of eye-rolling.
- Sing’s chapters are written in present tense and other chapters are written in past tense. Reading present tense in third person was confusing enough without my brain having to jump between present and past tense D:.
- Sing is really just not a nice girl. She struggles with how to act around other people since she was raised by a diva, but she also just makes some really foolish decisions and doesn’t have much of a moral compass.
- The romance aspects of Strange Sweet Song get weird and rather uncomfortable by the end. I found myself going “no no no no, don’t go there please!” once Sing started trying to kiss a very inappropriate romantic interest and then things just snowballed from there. I don’t understand why it seems okay for teenage girls to fall in love with supernatural guys that are OOOOOOOOLD. Add to that some awkward power dynamics and other spoilery things and I was just downright uncomfortable.
Strange Sweet Song built a beautiful and fresh fantasy world in the forest next to the conservatory, but other elements of it fell flat for me. If you are a fan of paranormal romance or enjoy stories with music or boarding school elements, Strange Sweet Song could be the perfect book for you. I look forward to reading what beautiful fantasy Adi Rule writes in the future!
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.