There are some possible major spoilers in my review so here’s a summary of the main points: A Mortal Song was a decent read, bordering somewhere along “okay” and “brilliant”. The plot was certainly original but it felt secondary as compared to the character development (which was pretty great btw). I liked the individual characters, even the antagonist, but the romance didn’t feel right to me.
Actually, I don’t even know what’s going on with my review. It’s a mess, my thoughts are a mess, my revision is a mess, my life is a mess. But I’m kinda pressed for time here, so let’s get it over and done with.
Scroll all the way down for the chance to win some Japanese goodies!
!! some spoilers ahead. read at your own risk !!
A Mortal Song
by Megan Crewe
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy
Publisher: Another World Press
Publication Date: 13 September 2016
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ✩ ✩
Sora’s life was full of magic—until she discovered it was all a lie.
Heir to Mt. Fuji’s spirit kingdom, Sora yearns to finally take on the sacred kami duties. But just as she confronts her parents to make a plea, a ghostly army invades the mountain. Barely escaping with her life, Sora follows her mother’s last instructions to a heart-wrenching discovery: she is a human changeling, raised as a decoy while her parents’ true daughter remained safe but unaware in modern-day Tokyo. Her powers were only borrowed, never her own. Now, with the world’s natural cycles falling into chaos and the ghosts plotting an even more deadly assault, it falls on her to train the unprepared kami princess.
As Sora struggles with her emerging human weaknesses and the draw of an unanticipated ally with secrets of his own, she vows to keep fighting for her loved ones and the world they once protected. But for one mortal girl to make a difference in this desperate war between the spirits, she may have to give up the only home she’s ever known.
“Megan Crewe’s A Mortal Song is engrossing from the first chapter. The world of the kami is beautifully fantastic and delicately drawn, and the switched-at-birth scenario made me instantly feel for both of these resilient, brave girls. A Mortal Song has lots of magic, lots of heart, and lots to love.” -Kendare Blake, author of Three Dark Crowns.
Did I ever mention that I have a habit of going into a book blind? AKA, I don’t know anything about the book prior to reading it. So when Sora discovered her true heritage about 10% into A Mortal Song, I thought that was a plot twist. It wasn’t till I started preparing this post that I realised that piece of information wasn’t supposed to come across as a surprise to us readers.
I was a bit apprehensive when I started reading A Mortal Song. 1) the Japanese mythology. What if I’m unable to remember what kami or deity does what?? 2) the names. What if weird long names like ‘Sachiko’ or ‘Yoshikazu’ appear???? I even prepared a OneNote document and recorded down every single name I came across in the book and their roles but thankfully, none of those worries came to pass. As far as Japanese mythology went, we have supernatural creatures such as spirits, ogres and nukekubi, and the only actual kami mentioned is Amaterasu. Okay, I was actually disappointed that the Japanese mythology wasn’t explored as much as I had expected but… it saved me the confusion so that’s kinda a good thing I guess?? As for the names, while I don’t remember the last names of the humans, their first names were short and relatively easy to remember. I mean… after the name has been mentioned like ten times within the same chapter, it kinda sticks in your head.
The plot itself was original, alright. I believe it’s pretty hard to find an English book based on Japanese culture that doesn’t involve samurais, much less kamis living on Mount Fuji. However, the plot was pretty simple and predictable at times. It felt really secondary as compared to the development of the characters.
And really, the characters are the best part of the book. There’s Chiyo, who may seem like just another special snowflake, but actually isn’t. Yeah sure she’s a fast learner. She has a lot of ki stored in her, she’s powerful but she isn’t a one-man army. She has her moments where she fell in battle. (Also, I kinda imagined her as Chitanda from Hyouka. The personality, the really excited expression in the eyes…)
The perfect quote to describe the antagonist is “You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain”. There was a unique depth to him and I loved his backstory.
There was much focus given to Sora’s emotional turmoil after the discovery of her true heritage. So much sometimes I found it annoying. But then, I’m not an overly emotional person and considering that she just found out that basically her whole life has been a lie, one can’t simply expect her to accept that fact in a matter of days.
I was supposed to have centuries before I faced that place.
So many years I got weary counting them.
Not seventeen. Seventeen was nothing.
But I was human, and this was how humans died.
In an instant, a claw across a throat.
The romance just didn’t click for me. Not Sora and Takeo, nor Sora and Keiji. Both felt forced. Like “hey since you guys are like childhood friends, it makes sense for you to have feelings for each other. Oh but no, let’s put you with this stranger instead”.
I think A Mortal Song would do well as an anime ― it has enough action and problems to keep going for the whole 12 episodes ― but as a book? Sometimes it just felt draggy. Good character development and exploration though.
Like many authors, Megan Crewe finds writing about herself much more difficult than making things up. A few definite facts: she lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband and son (and does on occasion say “eh”), she tutors children and teens with special needs, and she’s spent the last six years studying kung fu, so you should probably be nice to her. She has been making up stories about magic and spirits and other what ifs since before she knew how to write words on paper. These days the stories are just a lot longer.
Megan’s first novel, GIVE UP THE GHOST, was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award for Canadian Literature of the Fantastic. Her second, THE WAY WE FALL, was nominated for the White Pine Award and made the International Reading Association Young Adults’ Choices List. Her Fallen World trilogy (THE WAY WE FALL, THE LIVES WE LOST, THE WORLDS WE MAKE) is now complete and she has a new trilogy forthcoming in October 2014, beginning with EARTH & SKY. Her books have been published in translation in several countries around the world. She has also published short stories in magazines such as On Spec and Brutarian Quarterly.
This giveaway is open internationally and ends on 13 October 2016 . Click on the banner below to enter.