I love a bit of Young Adult fiction, but increasingly find it somewhat cliched – I know the story from the start, there are no surprises – it’s all just a bit… meh. And I say that as someone who likes to write the stuff, and hopes to get my first novel published at some time in the next year.
But when I first read Dawn E James’ Song of the Overworld, I was really blown away.
The story captivated me from the start, with well-rounded, relatable characters and a lyrical narrative against the evocative backdrop of the Scottish Isles. As I read, I was transported into a place of wild, raw beauty, drawn into a tale of light and shade, storm and calm, good and evil. Dawn’s use of dialogue is particularly expressive of the area in which the story is set, with its warm Scots dialect and localisms, all bringing the characters to life in my mind. I could almost hear the warm tones and taste the single malt as I read.
I don’t want to give you too many spoilers. The story begins with a scene reminiscent of something from high fantasy, with unearthly creatures plotting evil, in rich, descriptive language which draws the reader straight in. Enter Mikaela, a young girl who adores music, and her violin, which she plays to relieve stress and to release joy. Except this time, she’s hearing strange and disturbing voices which crowd in on her mind, oppressing her spirit and tearing her away from the music she loves. She comes to the realisation that her music is in danger.
Mikaela’s friend Danny wants fame for his band, the intriguingly named Celtic Skua. He becomes caught up with a manager who promises the world, but the reality is somewhat different. It’s up to Mikaela to discover the root of the darkness surrounding their situations, and to find a way to overcome the dread and the oppression threatening to destroy them both.
I’ll leave the plot synopsis there – you’ll just have to read it. On that note, please don’t think that because it’s labelled ‘YA’ that you won’t enjoy it as an adult. The story is rich and compelling, it’s a page-turner, it’s going to keep you reading. For me, the fact that there were faith themes weaved through the book increased my appreciation – Dawn’s strong faith is evident, yet she folds it into the story with nuance and care, so it doesn’t take over the book or become too cliched or obvious. I thought that the story sparked with hope, which made it an irresistible and joyful read. In our culture today, there is so much darkness, and to find a story which manages to acknowledge the pain while lighting a path to hope is always a delight. Read it – you’re going to love it.
Have a look at this trailer video – it’ll intrigue you even more!
And I have a signed copy to give away! How exciting is that? All you have to do is sign up to my mailing list – it’s a double win for you, because you’ll get a free e-copy of my bible study guide, A Tale of Beauty from Ashes, and I won’t bombard you with lots of emails, just the odd one to keep you updated on my writing. If you’re already on the list, then just leave a comment on this post, and I’ll make sure to drop your name in the hat too.
Just fill in this form to enter:Win a signed copy of this amazing new YA fantasy book, #SongoftheOverworld by Dawn E James! See my book review here for details. Click To Tweet