- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Tor Books (Aug. 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765311704
- ISBN-13: 978-0765311702
- Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 2.3 x 21.4 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,103,314 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Singer of Souls Hardcover – 1 Aug 2005
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
That being said, I loved everything else about Singer of Souls: the descriptions of music, as pertinent and detailed as any duel - verbal or otherwise - in The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny; the depictions of an addict's reality, and the pitfalls that bedevil any effort to get clean; the descriptions of the Fringe Festival in Scotland, and the fey counterpart to the human market; the sense of family that almost redeems the disastrous bad choices. Honestly, I haven't been this pissed off with a protgonist since reading Phantastes, by George MacDonald. (That Hideous Strength doesn't count, for in that case I am furious with the author. It's a subtle distinction.)
After finishing the epilogue, I put the book down, feeling bemused, and wondered if the second half of the book was a bad trip the protagonist slipped into along the way. I was relieved to discover that a sequel exists, becuase I want to know what it was that dropped to the floor in the torture chamber; if it wasn't importent, it wouldn't have been mentioned, and it certainly would noy have gotten part Stempel's beta readers.
I think the thing to remember here is that Adam Stempel is not just a Minneapolis musician whose former comrades include Emma Bull and Steven Brust, two authors who also take or follow their characters into very dark, weird situations; Stempel is Jane Yolen's son, and when did she ever give her characters a happy closure, unless they were dinosaurs?
If you can countenance violence and degradation, this is a supremely wonderful tale; if you prefer a faerie tale with silver bells instead of dissonately tolling knells, I recommend Wildwood Dancing, by Juliet Marillier.
As other reviewers acknowledge the book goes to some unexpected places. His is not a faeryland of sweetness and light. I suspect that the story actualy got out of control and the author did not know how to rein it in. When I look back at the character he created though I do think the end of the tale was what it had to be. No one was a hero, every one lived the life they had set out on. As I neared the end of the book I wondered how he could possibly end it. I am pleased that he didn't go for the trite happily ever after. But it does beg the question of whether the main character is capable of redemption.
Maybe not, that's life. You could say that the faeryland of his imagination got what it deserved.
That's not to say it was long enough. I think the end was rushed, as too many promising books are. (Here I could digress to say sometimes one book is too short when it's a really good story while more experienced authors can drag things out for 3 or more books without adding to the story.)
I'm sorry I can't do justice to this author in a review - read it for yourself. I will read whatever he writes next.
But it's a little different, and he's got a good voice. He occasionally overgeeks on the musical terminology, but he knows what he's talking about. And he writes about addiction in a way that feels real to me. Of course, my experience with heroin is pretty minimal, outside of watching Trainspotting. This story was interesting, and stayed interesting. The characters have lives of their own when they're not on the page, they have depth.
The ending... seriously jumps off the tracks, and goes somewhere dark and unexpected. I don't think I like it, but the man's got balls to take it there.