Featured Review: Sing Me Forgotten (Jessica S. Olson)
About This Book:
Isda does not exist. At least not beyond the opulent walls of the opera house.
Cast into a well at birth for being one of the magical few who can manipulate memories when people sing, she was saved by Cyril, the opera house’s owner. Since that day, he has given her sanctuary from the murderous world outside. All he asks in return is that she use her power to keep ticket sales high—and that she stay out of sight. For if anyone discovers she survived, Isda and Cyril would pay with their lives.
But Isda breaks Cyril’s cardinal rule when she meets Emeric Rodin, a charming boy who throws her quiet, solitary life out of balance. His voice is unlike any she’s ever heard, but the real shock comes when she finds in his memories hints of a way to finally break free of her gilded prison.
Haunted by this possibility, Isda spends more and more time with Emeric, searching for answers in his music and his past. But the price of freedom is steeper than Isda could ever know. For even as she struggles with her growing feelings for Emeric, she learns that in order to take charge of her own destiny, she must become the monster the world tried to drown in the first place.
*Review Contributed by Olivia Farr, Staff Reviewer*
SING ME FORGOTTEN is an enchanting, compelling, and unexpected YA fantasy retelling of Phantom of the Opera. In this world, some people are born with special mutations that mark them as gravoirs or fendoirs, both of which are marked by physical birthmarks and which can manipulate memories through song. Fendoirs have limited abilities to extract elixir, the substance of memory, from people. This is bartered on the market, as each person has a limited amount that marks memory capacity. If you sell some, you will lose some memories and be unable to make that many new memories, since memories rewrite on the elixir you have. When ingested by another, the elixir adds to their memory capacity, creating someone (rich) with extra elixir and thus with photographic memory.
Gravoirs have additional abilities of being able to change, modify, and weaponize these memories. Both gravoirs and fendoirs need to hear a person sing to work their magic, but with the right enhancements, gravoirs are unlimited and thus feared. At birth, fendoirs must be turned over to the government to work as indentured servants their whole lives. Gravoirs at birth are killed.
Isda is a gravoir who lives in the opera with her father-figure, Cyril, who saved her after she was thrown in a well after her birth. She helps him with making his shows a success by altering the audience's memories. She lives under the opera, in the catacombs, and though she watches from afar, Cyril is the only person who knows she exists. That is, until she begins to talk to the janitor, Emeric, who has a beautiful voice that only needs a coach - a service Isda is eager to provide.
As they become closer, Isda will have to face her future, her choices, and reevaluate everything she has ever known.
What I loved: This is an absolutely lush and atmospheric read that pulls the reader into this well-constructed world. The book ended up being darker than I anticipated, and Isda's descent from manipulated and naïve to vengeful and aware was quite the journey. Isda was an intriguing character, built on the fear of her compatriots and hidden from their lives while existing on the periphery. Her personhood has not always been guaranteed, and whether she would be able to create her own future is anything but certain. The fear of differences is a theme seen throughout history, though manifested in a unique way in this book. Other themes including the power of acceptance, vengeance, and the making of villains were thought-provoking.
The plot and pacing builds smoothly to arrive at a crescendo, much like the thematic songs. This is a story that absorbs the reader with new twists and turns until we arrive at the climactic and tragic end. The romance similarly builds slowly with magnetic pull up to the unexpected twist. With the lush world-building, this was quite a consuming read.
Final verdict: Atmospheric, compelling, and riveting, SING ME FORGOTTEN is a dark and unique YA fantasy retelling of The Phantom of the Opera. Highly recommend for fans of WINTERSONG, THE SHADOW QUEEN, and HEARTLESS.
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