Seventeen-year-old Mariella hasn’t said a word in four years, and it’s not because she can’t: it’s because she won’t. She has nothing to say because no one would believe there’s a world she can only visit in her dreams. And no one would understand why Mariella promised her silence to Orane, the man who introduced her to this world. Hudson is only eighteen, but he’s survived a lot–including a run-in with creatures he calls the “dream demons”, creatures he blames for the recent death of his four-year-old brother. Struggling to cope in the aftermath of this loss–and guided by signs even the practical Hudson can’t ignore–he moves to a new town and comes face-to-face with the one thing he never thought he’d see: another victim of the demons. Mariella and Hudson have both been chosen by demons from a world that exists within ours, a world where beauty and magic mask cruelty and greed. Hudson has seen the gruesome reality of these beings, but Mariella is still in their thrall. She’s in love with her captor, Orane, and is convinced she doesn’t need saving. It’s up to Hudson to show her the truth about the demons before she’s lost in their world forever.
First thing I liked about Sing Sweet Nightingale, was that the story was based on dreams being an entry into another world. It has a lot of potential – and I felt that the author really used it well in the story. Mariella and Hudson were chosen by inhabitants of this dreamworld to train (separately) in return for a vow. While Hudson has already broken free of the grasp the dreamworld had on him, thanks to an eye-opening disaster, Mariella is still enthralled by the world and wants to be a part of it. She is in love with the person controlling her there and Hudson gets these strange prophetic dreams about her so he arrives in town to help her out. Okay, this part was wafer-thin in terms of plot considering he knew nothing and was only bent on revenge. What ensues is a struggle to get her to realize what demon she has been pledging herself to.
Plot-wise, it is a bit slow, since it gets rehashed everytime Mariella loses her memories – but the world-building was awesome. I, however, would have liked some more details on that world and hope the sequel delivers on that. It has a dual POV so we get the best of both worlds and the duality works too. As a character, Hudson is a hero-type, willing to save the world, etc etc. It sounds cheesy but that is what he was chosen for. Not a typical guy, and very smart – so props for that. He battles with feeling helpless throughout the story, and partly guilty of his fault to avert that aforementioned disaster. Mariella, on the other hand, comes off as selfish right from the start. She is bratty, and thinks it’s okay to continue hurting her parents and friends for the sake of a vow. It also isn’t explained what exactly the fake memories that led her to dissociate from her life, exactly were. Atypically, they thankfully have no ‘love at first sight’ (I was almost expecting it to happen and was glad it didn’t) and moreover, there isn’t much romance until near the end of the book, which means a lot of the story was actually devoted to the crisis at hand, that is, Mariella’s stubbornness to see the truth.
The ending of the book was also, quite unexpected and I am very much interested what having those powers will do to Mariella’s character development. Hudson is likeable but Mariella needs some work. Also, setting up the story with an open-ended climax – good one, by the way. Eager for the next installment. 3.5 stars
Received a copy from Spencer Hill Press via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review