Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Rating: 5 (million) Stars
When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry, her sister seems scared of her, and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest to find the truth she must travel into the terrifying underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family-before it’s too late . . .
Set in England after World War I, this is a brilliantly creepy but ultimately loving story of the relationship between two sisters who have to band together against a world where nothing is as it seems.
Once upon a time, on a lovely spring day in 2015, I was bored. Somehow, I randomly stumbled onto this book on my Overdrive app, and the name Frances Hardinge seemed familiar. (Also, the cover completely freaked me out, FOR SOME STRANGE REASON, and I was in the mood for something scary.)
So I read this book.
And that was the best decision I HAVE EVER MADE.
Wait, why are you still here?!? Why have you not gone to read this already?? BECAUSE YOU NEED TO. RIGHT NOW.
GO. GO NOW. *throws book at you*
But this is a review, so I should probably tell you why you should read this magical book.
Frances Hardinge is brilliant. The ideas she comes up with are just wonderful. The world she has created in this book is so vivid, so real. I felt like I was IN early 20th century England. Hardinge’s dialogue is so realistic, and the way her characters speak really make the time and setting feel accurate and real. There is such an atmosphere here, and it makes the world feel almost tangible.
Hardinge’s writing is so lovely. There are so many subtle metaphors and beautiful similes. Whenever I read her writing, I just get lost in the beauty of her words.
The story itself is also just incredible; the plot is full of intricacies and is so complicated and there are so many subtleties, but it never felt jumbled. I think Cuckoo Song can be described as a dark fairy tale, and the magical elements blend so perfectly with the early 20th century atmosphere. Also, it’s really not scary at all, despite what the cover suggests.
And yes, I admit the synopsis sounds strange, so I was hesitant to pick this up. (BUT I’M SO GLAD I DID) Yes, it’s strange, but beautifully, creatively, magically strange, and never weird or disturbing.
Also it’s technically “middle grade.” But I think ANYONE can enjoy this. I certainly did. The writing is brilliant, and never ever feels “young.” And while the characters are young, (Triss is eleven) they never feel young, if that makes any sense. They feel relatable, and they are mature, and developed.
And I think my favorite part of this book is those characters. Back when I read this, I hadn’t felt so much for a character since before I could remember. I connected right away with Triss, and I cared so much for her. And she’s written in a way that even if you have nothing in common with her, I don’t think you’ll find her hard to read about. At all.
The other characters are just as developed. They all had distinct voices and personalities, and all change so much over the course of the book. And the familial relationships are just wonderfully, beautifully written. They felt real, and there were sad times, and happy times, and bittersweet times.
And it was wonderful.
So, um, this is a terrible review. *blushes* But I love this book so much I just don’t know how to talk about it!!! And now I want to read it again. And again.
Also, I read this book more than a year ago. And I remember it so well. I have also since read each of her other books (except for two that I just bought) at LEAST once. If that doesn’t convince you, I don’t know what else will.
SO WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?!? GO READ THIS BOOK. NOW. GO AWAY AND PREPARE TO BE BLOWN AWAY.
*throws book at you.*
When will you read this book??
Why have you not read this book yet??
WHY ARE YOU STILL HERE??
*Just kidding. 🙂 But seriously, go read this. Right now.
*Really, no content that might be considered objectionable.