Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Received from NetGalley for review. 

I have a new literary love: Frances Hardinge. Her writing is poetic and sumptuous, the kind of writing that you can read and read and read no matter what is happening, that coats your tongue like syrup and leaves you tingling all over. There were moments in Cuckoo Song where the action would falter, but the prose was magical enough to allow this; yes, it could probably be at least one hundred pages shorter, but with writing like this it really doesn’t matter:

‘Over its waters the willows drooped their long hair, bucking in the gusts as if with sobs. Against the dark surface she could make out the white waterlily buds, like small hands reaching up from beneath the surface.’

Cuckoo Song tells the tale of Triss, a young girl who finds peculiar and terrifying things happening to her after a fall in a lake and a complete loss of memory over who she really is. Things slowly start coming back to her but she still feels wrong; something happened that day she fell in the lake and she wants to know what. We follow Triss as she tries to figure out what is happening to her, her identity and her world, and what is happening to a world she thought she knew, with the help of her spunky and wild little sister, Pen (who happens to hate her) – soon everything is much more chilling and twisted that it seemed at first. The story delves much deeper than this, though – it explores the idea of what it means to be good or bad, family, friendship and love, and just how far you would go for those that mean the most to you. 

It is an exceptionally well-crafted and creepy story; as soon as I started reading it I knew it was going to deliver the unexpected – nothing is as it seems in this book and there are twists, turns and mysteries galore throughout. The characters are extremely well written and utterly believable – Hardinge has captured the voice of a nine year old girl as easily as a slightly hysterical middle aged husband and wife. I can find no fault with this book, it is a thoroughly enjoyable and spine tingling read for all.

Read: April 13th-29th 2014

4/5 stars

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