3 / 5 Stars
Title: A Mortal Song
Author: Megan Crewe
Publisher: Another World Press
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: 13th September 2016
Source: eARC provided via NetGalley
Synopsis from GoodReads:
Sora’s life was full of magic—until she discovered it was all a lie.
Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.
As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she’s ever known.
“Megan Crewe’s A Mortal Song is engrossing from the first chapter. The world of the kami is beautifully fantastic and delicately drawn, and the switched-at-birth scenario made me instantly feel for both of these resilient, brave girls. A Mortal Song has lots of magic, lots of heart, and lots to love.” -Kendare Blake, author of Three Dark Crowns
This book caught my interest solely because of the setting and concept. I mean, really, a human changeling, set in Japan, with unique sounding fantasy elements: it’s a YES from me.
We are thrown into the story straightaway without any introduction, which felt a little bit disorientating to begin with. However after a few chapters the world and magic system starts to become clear.
We follow Sora, who learns that she is not a magical kami, but is actually human. Sora is initially horrified to learn that she’s just a human, but over the course of the novel she begins to understand the complexity of human emotions, and that she is capable of more than she realises.
Told from Sora’s first person perspective, the story flips the typical ‘chosen one’ trope. Sora isn’t the chosen one, she’s the complete opposite. I definitely enjoyed how Sora struggled to cope with this, but finally comes to accept it towards the end of the story. All of the characters felt well-developed and I grew very attached to them all as I read.
Megan definitely isn’t afraid to throw a few curveballs in there, with plot twists surprising me along the way. I enjoyed the darker elements of the story, as far too often fantasies are light and airy, but I felt this novel had the perfect balance.
The setting was fantastic. Realistic, unique and set in present day Japan, it was a refreshing take on the YA fantasy genre that I really needed. The world building was gradual, and allowed me to settle into the fantastical elements as the story went along. The magic system in this book is one of the best I’ve read, there were no flaws that I could find, and it all made sense.
Although this is a fantasy novel I felt that there was a great exploration into the complexity of human emotions and actions, through Sora, Keiji and Omori especially.
Whilst the writing as a whole kept up a fast pace, there were some long, winding sentences that confused me and slowed the pace dramatically, and the longer chapters definitely gave it an almost ‘dragging-on’ feeling.
The plot was strong throughout the book, and gave the characters a purpose, but the ending was a let down compared to all the buildup. Without giving anything away, the plot fell away at the end, with Megan choosing to focus on the exploration of self and emotions, than stab-stab action.
Overall though, A Mortal Song was a refreshing, unique fantasy with some great themes explored throughout. I would definitely recommend that you pick this one up once it’s released.
What I liked:
- Its set in Japan… On Mount Fuji!! Can you say ‘awesome setting’?!
- The magic system is flawless, and well explained.
- It flips the Chosen One trope on its head
- Sora and Chiyo are complex, strong female characters. Oh, and they totally kick butt!!
- There is a focus on positive family relationships, despite the issue of lying to your daughter, about her actually being your daughter….you know, as you do.
- The exploration of human emotions, good vs evil, having a sense of belonging.
What I disliked:
- Instalove. We ignored the chosen one trope, and got this instead…
- Love triangles. Sigh.
- The ending was less action packed than I expected (and wanted).
- The long chapters felt endless, even though the pacing was great overall.