Thursday, March 13, 2014

Review: Sing Sweet Nightingale by Erica Cameron

Release date: March 4, 2014
Author info: Website | Twitter | Facebook
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Pages: 320
Format: Egalley
Source: Publisher provided through Netgalley
Buy the book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Seventeen-year-old Mariella hasn't said a word in four years, and it's not because she can't: it's because she won't. She has nothing to say because no one would believe there's a world she can only visit in her dreams. And no one would understand why Mariella promised her silence to Orane, the man who introduced her to this world.

Hudson is only eighteen, but he's survived a lot--including a run-in with creatures he calls the "dream demons," creatures he blames for the recent death of his four-year-old brother. Struggling to cope in the aftermath of this loss--and guided by signs even the practical Hudson can't ignore--he moves to a new town and comes face-to-face with the one thing he never thought he'd see: another victim of the demons.

Mariella and Hudson have both been chosen by demons from a world that exists within ours, a world where beauty and magic mask cruelty and greed. Hudson has seen the gruesome reality of these beings, but Mariella is still in their thrall. She's in love with her captor, Orane, and is convinced she doesn't need saving. It's up to Hudson to show her the truth about the demons before she's lost in their world forever.
The premise of Sing Sweet Nightingale is incredibly intriguing. It's a different take on demons that glamorizes them while also giving pretty big repercussions. And up until the last 50 pages or so I was really feeling it. Problem? The ending took a turn that I didn't expect and didn't like, honestly. Until that point, it was dark, creepy, and pretty interesting.

Mariella hasn't said a single word in four years. The doctors call is "selective mutism" and her parents look at her with sadness, willing her to speak. But there's no chance she will. Mariella has promised to Orane, the man she loves who she meets every night in her dreams, that she'll never tell anyone of his world, and soon Orane has promised to bring her into his world so they can be together forever. But Hudson knows the truth about Orane; he is a kind of demon that preys on children and teenagers, finding what makes them special and taking it away, for good on their eighteenth birthday--and Mariella's birthday is in two weeks. It's up to Hudson to convince Mariella that the man she loves is trying to harm her and get her to fight for her life.

Seriously, this is such a cool idea and I really liked how it was executed. Seeing "paradise" through Mariella's eyes and watching it crumble as she and Hudson begin to fight back is interesting and effective. The idea of demons not being creatures exactly, but beings that attack in one's sleep (or at midnight) is different and threatening. And the story does a really good job of pulling you in immediately, setting up the action and endearing Hudson to you.

But what bothered me here was the ending. Normally I'm not especially questioning of the directions authors take, since the world is their own and everything. But the ending of Sing Sweet Nightingale didn't jive with the rest of the story to me. Hudson defeated his own demon, Calease, and gained certain powers from her--the ability to heal quickly, the ability to dream visions of the future--which were totally acceptable to me. I liked seeing Mariella come out of a passive role to save herself, instead of Hudson saving her, but the rest of the ending didn't work for me. I don't want to go into details because of spoilers, but it just...didn't work to me. I can't put it into any other words, and it's probably a completely personal thing, but it's the way I feel.

Even so, most of Sing Sweet Nightingale is really interesting, creepy, and dark--just the way I like it. And while the ending isn't to my taste, that doesn't mean it won't be for you or anyone else.

About the author:

Erica Cameron knew that writing was her passion when she turned a picture book into a mystery novella as a teen. That piece wasn’t her best work, but it got her an A. After college, she used her degree in Psychology and Creative Writing to shape a story about a dreamworld. Then a chance encounter at a rooftop party in Tribeca made her dream career a reality.

Erica is many things but most notably the following: writer, reader, editor, dancer, choreographer, singer, lover of musical theater, movie obsessed, sucker for romance, Florida resident, and quasi-recluse. She loves the beach but hates the heat, has equal passion for the art of Salvador Dali and Venetian Carnival masks, has a penchant for unique jewelry and sun/moon d├ęcor pieces, and a desire to travel the entire world on a cruise ship. Or a private yacht. You know, whatever works.

Her debut novel Sing Sweet Nightingale released March 4, 2014 from Spencer Hill Press. It is the first book in The Dream War Saga.

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