Gillian Bronte Adams is my blogging hero. She's been blogging for six years, and her followers have grown into the hundreds. So I was understandably excited when she announced this May that she was publishing her first book, under the sweet, adventurous title Orphan's Song. And my excitement only grew when, in September, I got an ARC.
This is the part of the review where I say that I am being a stern, honest reviewer even though I got a free copy. So... yes.
For all of her short, miserable life as an orphan, Birdie has been surrounded by music that no one else can hear. Only five notes, constantly sounding but never resolving.
(If you have a piano, please go to it now. Play the following notes: D4, G4, G4, B4, A4. That is how I envision the orphan's song.)
Where was I? That's right-- five notes that never come to a resolution, seemingly meaningless. But when a soldier of the occupying Khelari forces overhears the strains of Birdie's song, she discovers that the music has a greater, more mysterious purpose than she ever imagined. Forced to flee from her wretched life as a kitchen drudge, Birdie is thrust into a world of half-forgotten lies and secrets. Leira needs a Songkeeper to face the Khelari, but before she can be their hero, Birdie must discover what being a Songkeeper means.
If I had children, I would give them this book. It is a delightful adventure story of your archetypal mistreated orphan who is destined for great things. Throw in a jaded former hero and a street urchin, and I would actually be impressed if I hadn't enjoyed this book. (My favorite character was Ky the urchin, with his gripping struggle between fearful self-preservation and noble selflessness.)
That being said, Orphan's Song is Adams's debut novel. It's not perfect. I felt that, despite being 304 pages, it never sank its teeth into the questions it presented. What is the Song, and who is the Songkeeper? Why are the Khelari so evil? And above all else, what is Birdie going to do about it? I understand that this is a trilogy and Adams has another two books to answer these questions, but in Orphan's Song, she fell shy of the balance between compelling mystery and distressing ignorance.
All in all, Adams's debut novel is an enjoyable, swashbuckling tale of adventure, and the few things I disliked will probably be remedied in subsequent volumes. If you'd like to purchase a copy (and you really should), you can find it here on Amazon. For the moment they're out of stock, but hopefully Enclave will sort that out soon. And until you can get your hands on Orphan's Song, check out Gillian's blog!