Chantress by Amy Butler Greenfield.
Lucy has been raised on a remote island with just old Norrie for company and only vague memories of the mother she believes died in a shipwreck on the way to the island. Always, she is told that she must never sing, and she must never take off the stone pendant she has always had. But of course, she becomes a teenager, and rebels. She takes off the necklace, sings the song she hears floating in the air – and is magically transported to London. In a move both dangerous and informative, she’s sung herself into the library of Lord Protector Scargrave. (I’m trying to think if I’ve ever read of a well-meaning and uncorrupted Lord Protector.) She manages to conceal herself in time to overhear him detail plans to search for and eradicate any remaining Chantresses, and is able to conclude that she is a Chantress herself and therefore in Mortal Peril. Fortunately, she manages to follow a spy, Nat, through a secret passage out of the library and is eventually offered shelter by Master Penebrygg, his master and part of the resistance movement. Lucy will have to learn to use her powers very quickly indeed if she is to stop Scargrave from spreading his darkness and fear even further over England than he already has.
There were a fair number of predictable elements in this book, from Lucy being the Chosen One to the development of some romantic feelings between Lucy and Nat. This did not stop me from finding a great many things to enjoy about it. The basic premise is that singing is pure magic, which I love and means that I can add it to my Fantasy for Music Lovers list. Even though there’s clearly a lot of alternate history going on, the story is set firmly in London of 1667-1668, with a lot of effort put into making the daily life as accurate as possible, which I also very much appreciate. The romance is sweet and subdued, with much more emphasis on getting to know each other and accepting each other’s differences than on Longings. (Nat is a scientist and opposed to magic in general.) I thought the Shadowgrims, Scargrave’s spell-altered raven spies, were just scary enough without being overly terrifying, making this book suitable for younger teens and older middle-grade students on up. Though there is danger and action, we spend a lot of the book with Lucy as she tries to figure out who she is and how to use magic ethically. All in all, I found it a highly satisfactory book.