Published by Pan Macmillan on May 8th 2014
Genres: Fantasy, Horror, Young Adult
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The first things to shift were the doll's eyes, the beautiful grey-green glass eyes. Slowly they swivelled, until their gaze was resting on Triss's face. Then the tiny mouth moved, opened to speak.
'What are you doing here?' It was uttered in tones of outrage and surprise, and in a voice as cold and musical as the clinking of cups. 'Who do you think you are? This is my family.'
When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that 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 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 . . .
Cuckoo Song is a darkly atmospheric novel from Frances Hardinge, winner of the Branford Boase award.
Something bad happened here, something that should never have taken place.
I’ve changed my mind. I don’t want to remember.
4 1/2 stars. Okay, we need to talk about Frances Hardinge. Despite seeing positive review after positive review, I have been putting her books off for years. Partly because they’re supposed to be “middle grade” and partly because I couldn’t really make sense of the blurbs – they sounded just… weird.
Well, Tatiana finally made me read The Lie Tree, which gave way to a weekend full of Hardinge madness. Because oh, her books are weird, but in the best possible creative, original way. Sometimes I guess “I have never read anything like this” is the best kind of compliment.
Cuckoo Song is best described as a dark fairy tale. The main characters are young and there is nothing unsuitable for children, and yet this is far from your typical middle grade book. It is inventive and clever. The story is full of metaphor, genuinely creepy scenes and an underlying tale about family and war.
It’s like a paranormal historical horror mystery. And it is fantastic. The writing is gorgeous, full of lush but scary descriptions and the plot is so layered and thought-provoking. I would recommend this for children, teens and adults alike.
The story opens with Triss awakening after a mysterious accident. There are things she can’t quite remember, and things that just don’t seem right. Her sister refuses to believe she is really Triss. She begins to see and hear things that she shouldn’t. And she is unable to quench her insatiable hunger.
As Triss “recovers”, she discovers more about her life, her family, and its secrets. Soon, it’s unclear whether Triss is losing her mind or whether her accident triggered something horrific. It’s a frightening supernatural tale on the surface, and a quiet, moving story about grief underneath.