Chantress takes everything I like in a book and puts them together in a beautifully rendered tale that flows like a song.
The book sweeps you up in its story of a historical England that is wrecked by magic and ruled by fear. Enchantments are rife with both black magic and harmless incantations at work. Introduce the chantresses-- a group of women who can make magic through singing-- and the plot becomes a whole lot more interesting.
The main storyline in this novel is rather easy to follow. There are the classic villain, Lord Scargrave, and his minions, the Shadowgrims-- man-sized ravens who can consume your soul in the fiery fires of hell and rape your mind of your thoughts. There is also the motley bunch of heroes, which in this case includes the members of the Invisible College-- a group of thinkers and scientists who are set on overthrowing Lord Scargrave's rule on the kingdom and destroying his thrall over the young king. Finally, we have our heroine, Lucy, who just so happens to be the last Chantress alive in all of England (which is not true, by the way).
The mission unfolds with Lucy discovering her powers, the truth behind her birth and being pushed onto a journey to destroy the seemingly invincible antagonist. Along the way, there are some simple complications, such as Nat, an apprentice who begins a love-hate relationship with Lucy. The slow-brewing romance between Nat and Lucy is like a collision between Science and Magic, and it's a wholly enjoyable process watching how opposites attract, reject and fall in love with each other anyway.
In the end, this novel does not put forth a complex plot, but it rises above its simple and straightforward structure with lovely language, atmospheric descriptions and a lively protagonist. Worth the read for all historical fans.
Source: From the publisher for review purposes.