Twitter-style summary: When a young Singer hears the dying merlee she is drawn on a quest to save the half creatures, over the ocean and into the mountains…
I first heard about Song Quest when someone mentioned that The Bookette was running a campaign to bring it back into print. After a little bit of internet digging I found out this title was the winner of the inaugural Branford Boase award, given to authors whose debut novel shows the promise of a great future in writing and the editors for picking them. Having read Katherine’s I am the Great Horse, I knew that Song Quest was going to be brilliantly written – and when I finally got my hands on a copy, it didn’t disappoint.
This is a story set in a richly developed world where the five Songs of Power are used by the special few who train on the remote Isle of Echoes to help maintain harmony throughout the land. Such is the power of the Songs that they can bring laughter in the midst of tension, sadness to allow understanding of suffering and discipline to those who transgress. They can heal – and they can kill. But being a Singer isn’t all about administering the Songs – it’s about listening to others and young Rialle is a novice Singer with an instinct beyond her years, the model student and a Singer with a bright future. In contrast, rebel Kherron can’t wait to escape the confines of the Isle and turn his back on the life of a Singer. There’s a sense of danger emanating from the mentions of the Karchlord and the pirates commissioned to do his brutal bidding, but there’s also a host of fascinating creatures and characters, adding to the depth of the setting.
This was a chance for us to publish a prize-winning novel and add yet another respected writer to the list, but it was also the perfect opportunity for me to acquire a fantasy for the 11+ age group – something I had been after for a while. When I was that age, all I wanted to do was lose myself in an unfamiliar world where the discoveries I made really felt like discoveries – the unveiling of something completely new and different. And despite the fact that this was first published in 2000 – Song Quest really is something of a discovery.
Plus it gave us scope for a pretty special cover… don’t you agree?