Book Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3/5 stars)
You are important.
After Elizabeth is lured to a magical performance in town, she gets trapped by a nefarious woman called the Mistress. Her life changes right then, becoming obsolete in her old life, and sprouting feathers across her skin that itch with the promise of death. Her only solace is in her dreams…which provide more than just entertainment, but answers of how to escape the Mistress’s clutches.
The story is beautifully written, with a wonderful W|W romance and an endearing message: you are important. No one can take that away from you.
I’ll be honest, I had trouble with this book despite its endearing message and beautiful prose. I wanted to love it, and while I enjoyed the overall story, there were some hang ups that prevented me from giving it more than three-stars.
I think the primary issue I had was how long it took me to finish the story. I started The Songbird’s Refrain back in late 2019. The first 30% of the book went by quickly, but I didn’t really connect with the main character, Elizabeth. She felt like a sleeve, and honestly other than the fact that she sang, I didn’t know a lot about her. Granted, this is also a testament to the Mistress’s power…and the author’s writing. I was left feeling exactly how Elizabeth felt: she wasn’t important.
Once Elizabeth reaches a revelation about who the Mistress is and the magic behind it, the book does pick up, and I finished the last half of the book pretty quickly once I reached that point. Elizabeth learns to tap into her ability, and as much as I would have loved to learn more about the magic and the world the Mistress came from, the author does a good job wrapping the story up.
My major hang up, I think, is the romance aspect in the story. While the tale is beautiful, and the love is strong, the fact that two people fall in love because they “saw each other in the other’s dream” feels a bit…off? While some people will definitely love this element, with the idea of star crossed lovers inflicted by both fate and choice, it left me feeling uncertain. In some circumstances, dreaming of someone you never met and falling in love would almost be creepy. While it does work for this story, it did leave me with mixed feelings.
Overall though, the story is wonderful and definitely one to give a chance. It’s beautifully written, enchanting, and will make your heart flutter as you root for Elizabeth.
And remember: you are important.
What’s it about?
When a mysterious show arrives in town, seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Brighton is both intrigued and unsettled. But none of the acts capture her attention quite like the blue-eyed woman. Locked in a birdcage and covered in feathers, the anguish in her voice sounds just a little too real to be an act—because it isn’t. The show’s owner, a sadistic witch known only as the Mistress, is holding her captive.
And she’s chosen Elizabeth as her next victim.
After watching the blue-eyed woman die, Elizabeth is placed under the same curse. She clings to what little hope she can find in the words of a fortune teller and in her own strange dreams. The more she learns, the more she suspects that the Mistress isn’t as invulnerable as she appears. But time is against her, and every feather that sprouts brings her closer to meeting the blue-eyed woman’s fate. Can Elizabeth unlock the secret to flying free, or will the Mistress’s curse kill her and cage its next victim?