Title: Sing Me Forgotten
Author: Jessica S Olsen
Genre: YA, Fantasy
Published: March 9th, 2021 (Inkyard Press)
Synopsis: Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high—and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.
But Isda breaks Cyril’s cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she’s ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison.
Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.
Thank you to the publisher, Inkyard Press, and Edelweiss for providing me with an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Isda is a gravoir, someone with the ability to alter people’s memories when they sing. In the kingdom of Channe, where memories are currency, gravoirs are condemned to death on sight, but Cyril rescued her from the well she was thrown into as a baby and she has lived in the opera house he owns all her life. He only asks that Isda use her ability to keep ticket sales high and that she never allows herself to be seen, which is a simple enough rule for her to follow until she accidentally meets Emeric. His voice calls to her and his memories are brighter than any she has ever seen before, but more importantly, she gets a glimpse of something in one of his memories, that may be a way out of a life in hiding. Determined to discover more, Isda begins to spend more time with Emeric, searching his memories as he sings under the guise of vocal training, but as she sees more and more, her desire to have a life outside the opera house too grows.
While The Phantom of the Opera is not a particular favourite of mine, I remembered enough of the story to appreciate this gender bent retelling which has a very similar tone and feel to the original. This was a intriguing take on the story, working in a magic system that blends so well with the music. The author has clearly put quite a bit of effort into the world-building and lore of this unique world – evident from how easy this story was to follow. I really liked the writing style and how rich and vivid the descriptions were; it really brought the world and characters to life.
Isda is definitely one of the most interesting YA heroines I’ve come across in recent years and her arc is a fascinating one. As the book progresses, she grows into such a beautifully flawed and morally grey character that you feel like rooting for, but are not quite sure whether you should be. As the story is entirely told from Isda’s POV, so we get to see her state of mind first hand, how cruelty and betrayal turn her into the very monster everyone thinks her to be.
What I didn’t like though was that when everything was said and done, nothing had really changed in Isda’s world and the situation for gravoirs probably got worse than before. Isda really went off the rails towards the end (no matter how well deserved it was in the case of some people), and while she did the right thing with regards to Emeric, she didn’t really make up for her actions in any way. Not to mention that the problem she would have faced with Emeric is the exact same problem that his sister will undoubtedly face at some point, but that’s never given any consideration.
The ending felt really rushed, and as I mentioned left a few things unresolved in a manner that didn’t completely make sense to me. If there’s a sequel planned, this would perfect, but this book seems to be a standalone. However, for a debut novel, it was quite good, especially concept-wise. Overall, this was an enjoyable read and though I didn’t like a few things about it, I would still recommend it.
Sing Me Forgotten releases on March 9th, 2021.
Do you plan to read this book? Let me know in the comments below!