- ISBN-13: 9781419714801
- ISBN-10: 1419714805
- Publisher: Amulet Books
- Publish Date: May 2015
- Page Count: 416
- Reading Level: Ages 11-15
- Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.1 x 1.4 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-03-30
- Reviewer: Staff
In this painful and powerful tale set in post-WWI England, readers meet 11-year-old Triss, the coddled daughter of a respected civil engineer and an overprotective mother, as well as her jealous younger sister, Pen. As the story opens, Triss has somehow fallen into a local pond, barely escaping with her life, and she regains consciousness to find that the world has gone strange. Her memories are spotty and inconsistent, store mannequins and dolls turn their heads to follow her movements, and every time she closes her eyes she senses “dreams waiting at the mousehole of her mind’s edge, ready to catch her up in their soft cat-mouth and carry her off somewhere she did not want to go.” Triss feels an overwhelming hunger that cannot be assuaged by human food and suspects she is no longer human. In the guise of a gorgeously written and disconcerting fairy tale, Hardinge (A Face Like Glass) delves deeply into the darker side of family life, particularly sibling rivalry and the devastating effect war can have on those left at home. Ages 12–up. Agent: Nancy Miles, Miles Stott Literary Agency. (May)
A teen's chilling double-life
Something terrible has happened to Triss. It’s worse than the story her parents tell, that Triss fell in the lake and came back with a raging fever. It’s stranger than the bratty behavior of Triss’ little sister, who seems tortured by Triss’ presence. Triss’ memories are spotty, but when she finds herself devouring one of her own dolls, she can no longer ignore the truth that she is no longer Triss. As Not-Triss, she finds herself in an eerie game of cat-and-mouse with a bizarre magical force that seems to be terrorizing her family.
The novel is set just after World War I, when Triss’ older brother was purportedly killed, and author Frances Hardinge’s version of England reflects the desperate attempts of a people trying to forget.
With a combination of horror and wry humor reminiscent of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline, Cuckoo Song transcends its teen-reader designation. The psychological and historical nuances, along with the sheer horror of Not-Triss’ existence, will mesmerize older readers as well.