Happy release to day to Hayley Chewins and The Turnaway Girls! I was recently sent this book by the lovely people at Walker Books UK, in exchange for an honest review. The book is out today (January 3rd) in the UK (though I believe it has been out elsewhere for a couple of months already?) Anyway, read on to find out more about it!
What the book is about…
On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it. But Delphernia can’t make shimmer. She would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Outside the stone dome, the sea breathes like a wild beast, the sky watches with stars like eyes, and even the gardens have claws. Outside, secrets fall silent in halls without sound. And outside, Delphernia is caught –between the island’s sinister Custodian and its mysterious Childer-Queen. Between a poem-speaking prince and a girl who feels like freedom. And in a debut that glimmers with hope and beauty, freedom – to sing, to change, to live – is precisely what’s at stake.
What I thought of it…
This delightfully feminist middle grade book was a great start to 2019. The prose is really quite lovely and the author uses metaphors masterfully to create vivid descriptions. The repetition of various motifs lend this book a quiet strength that I found really quite moving at times.
This book does require a large degree of suspension of disbelief at first but once you get into the flow of things, it becomes easier. The musical subject matter is a joy (is anyone really surprised that I loved it?)
The author succeeds in making this quite a diverse little book, with POC main characters. I also felt like an LGBTQ+ inclination was hinted at and I really hoped it would develop but I suppose it might not have been appropriate for the age of the book’s target audience. I could be reading too much into it but it’s where my brain went!
There were moments of surprising violence within the book, meaning it is not all sweetness and light. I thought the author struck a nice balance. Mother Nine is a great villain that readers will have no problem hating!
Overall, I’m really pleased I started the new year with this one and would recommend it to fans of whimsical writing and strong female characters, no matter their age.
Which book have you chosen as your first read of 2019? I hope, whatever it is, that you’re loving it! x