The Turnaway Girls
On the strange, stormy island of Blightsend, twelve-year-old Delphernia Undersea has spent her whole life in the cloister of turnaway girls, hidden from sea and sky by a dome of stone and the laws of the island. Outside, the Masters play their music. Inside, the turnaway girls silently make that music into gold. Making shimmer, Mother Nine calls it. But Delphernia can’t make shimmer. She would rather sing than stay silent. When a Master who doesn’t act like a Master comes to the skydoor, it’s a chance for Delphernia to leave the cloister. Outside the stone dome, the sea breathes like a wild beast, the sky watches with stars like eyes, and even the gardens have claws. Outside, secrets fall silent in halls without sound. And outside, Delphernia is caught — between the island’s sinister Custodian and its mysterious Childer-Queen. Between a poem-speaking prince and a girl who feels like freedom. And in a debut that glimmers with hope and beauty, freedom — to sing, to change, to live — is precisely what’s at stake.
A Beautifully Written Book
Delphernia lives in a cloister of turnaway girls on the island of Blightsend, and she's unable to do the one thing that the turnaway girls are raised to do: stay silent and turn music made by the Masters outside the cloister into gold. To further complicate things, Delphernia loves to sing and has questions and opinions, and those things are unwelcome and punished in the cloister--in fact, as Delphernia is told repeatedly by the head of the girls, Mother Nine, "girls with singing throats are swallowed by the sea."
Delphernia escapes the cloister thanks to being chosen by a young Master to accompany him outside its walls, and by venturing into the larger world, she finds herself pushed and pulled in different directions by her own wants and needs as well as those of a prince, a queen, and the island's Custodian.
THE TURNAWAY GIRLS by Hayley Chewins is beautiful in so many ways. The cover is gorgeous, and the writing is lyrical and hypnotic--but it also has a fast tempo, and it's hard to put down. Delphernia is a vibrant character, and she commands every page. The others in the book pale in comparison, and I found myself wishing for more of the book than its 250+ pages so that I could get to know them and their stories better.
I wish the world of THE TURNAWAY GIRLS had been better developed, too, and the plot's twists and turns were often abrupt. The characters and setting of this book deserved a little more depth, but the beauty of the writing and Delphernia's strength kept me flipping the pages and invested in the outcome.
I'll definitely look for more books by this author. This was her debut, and the way she gathers words and puts them to a page makes me expect great things from her in the future.
My thanks to the publisher and LibraryThing for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Terrific main character