Saturday, February 4, 2012

Review of Songbird by Angela Fristoe

Some readers love to read books that will let them escape the real world for a few hours. Some prefer the realism of everyday life, joyful or tragic. I tend to be among the first group...usually. I know there are bad people in the world who do horrible things, so I don't typically like reading about them for fun. For anyone like me, don't pass Songbird by just because it doesn't have any magic, vampires, or alternate realities.

Dani Mays is a victim of tragedy. Watching her brother shot down by her own father left scars, there is no doubt about that, but that one event would have more effects on her life than she would realize as a small child.

Songbird opens with Dani as a small child, but the death of her brother cuts her childhood short personally and in the book. Jumping forward to a seventeen year old Dani, the effects of her difficult life are seen in almost everything she does. She is careful, slow to trust and even slower to forget, and desperate to please those she loves partially out of a need to show her love, and partially out of fear that if she doesn't she will lose them.

That duel need frames the romantic portion of Songbird's story line. Reece Tyler is Dani's link to acceptance and hope for a better life. She loves him. She can't say no to him. She treasures him above anyone else in the world...except maybe the memory of her dead brother. Their love story is tainted early on by Dani's past.

Angela does such a great job of weaving past hurt into the current time and twisting it into a mess you are sure will never be worked out. At different points in the novel you will be routing for Reece, but then lean toward Colin. A few times I found myself so frustrated with Reece I didn't want him to end up with Dani, but at other times I wanted to shake Dani for not seeing her own faults and fixing them. Needless to say, Angela's portrayal of a young girl so damaged by failed family relationships that forming a new, normal one seems almost impossible is engaging and hard to put down.

But if you're thinking all Songbird has to offer is some teenage romance complicated by death, keep reading. Not only does Dani's past make having a romantic relationship difficult, it brings her safety into question as well. When Dani starts receiving strange and threatening phone calls she begins to worry that someone from her past has caught up with her. Who is causing her so much distress...I'm not going to tell, of course, but it isn't easy to guess. Angela kept her hints small and the possibilities great for who could be the culprit. You'll guess, sure you know, only to find out you were wrong.

The combination of romance and mystery is balanced very well. I found both sides of the engaging, with neither one becoming to dark or graphic. The scary side of humanity is represented very well, but the reader isn't bombarded with it. I finished the book saddened by what some people will do, but comforted that there is still enough good in people to make up for it.

Would I recommend Songbird?  Yes, it's a great read if you need to satisfy a taste for something dark and beautiful at the same time. It's a book that definitely pulls at your emotions.

Who would I recommend it to? YA readers, romance readers, cozy mystery readers, literary fiction readers...really I can't think of many readers who wouldn't enjoy this book.

Don't rely on just my opinion, go out and get your own copy to read, then come back and tell me what you thought. Get Songbird in Kindle, Paperback, or in most ebook formats at Smashwords.