Singer in the Snow
by Louise Marley
304 pages (hardcover)
This is a young adult science fantasy, set on the ice planet of Nevya where the people rely on magic--not technology--to survive. The plot reads very much like typical YA fantasy, the coming-of-age story of several characters (at least the three viewpoint characters, and maybe more). It's the fourth in the series, a sequel to Marley's much older (publishing-date-wise) books in the Nevya world, which I've never heard of, but there's really no significant connection except for the usual character-returns and this could easily be a debut-world novel.
I have a perpetual non-issue with YA, in that it reads very quickly and I forget details at about the same speed. The story, while often admirable, never sticks in my mind. Singer in the Snow
is fluffy, quick, and not particularly special--the prose feels slightly dumbed-down, the mirrored prologue/epilogue stick out like hammered thumbs, and the good vs. evil conflict is as crystal clear as my skepticism. The ending especially is unsatisfying for me, too cloying and expected. The characters, while interesting, possess an inherent child-like quality--even the adults, many of whom serve no purpose other than standing around and acting nice.
However, I'm interested enough to seek out Marley's other Nevya books, though it'll be difficult since they are all out of print, due to one factor: music
. Marley is an accomplished musician in her own right, and it shows through her writing. The music aspect of this story captured me from the beginning and sustained me through all the other mediocre aspects. The title (which does her music-worldbuilding absolutely no justice) refers to Singers, but that's merely a title and prequisite to Cantor/Cantrix. The Gifted also play flutes and zither-like stringed instruments (one of the POV characters is a Cantrix with awesome power but was born mute). I adored the musical descriptions and the five modes and the halftones and quartertones
and the non-Western musicality. The passion of the music (cliche as that sounds) made this book work for me.Singer in the Snow
is not significantly flawed, but neither is it significantly noteworthy. I would recommend it only to music geeks, since it's a quick book and could quite possibly be of redeeming quality. (Anyone here on yhlee
's flist/talks to her IRL and can pass on this rec? I think she'd be one of the aforementioned music lovers. The modes and quartertones are definitely Cool.)
Oh, also: Louise Marley and Toby Bishop are the same person, if the latter name rings any bells. Sounds vaguely familiar to me, but I can't think what.