Book Review: Strange, Sweet Song by Adi Rule

Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right.

Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school’s production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary? 

Sing must work with the mysterious Apprentice Nathan Daysmoor as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But Nathan has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.

Release Date: March 11, 2014

I want to start off this review by saying that I am convinced that Rule’s novel was significantly influenced by Phantom of the Opera. (I actually have an interview with Rule coming up soon on the blog, and I am asking her about it!) Now, I’m unsure of which version she was mostly influenced by, but Gaston LeRoux’s novel has a lot more of the horror factors in it, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical is centered around the love story.

So I’m inclined to say that the musical interpretation had a little bit more of an influence based on the romantic storylines in Strange, Sweet Song.  The clear parallels being that the main character is an aspiring opera singer a la Christine, there is the clear rich and handsome suitor like Raoul, and a mysterious admirer with a penchant for music like the Phantom. Let it be known that I adore both the book and the musical, so this just made reading Rule’s novel more fun.

However, Rule did an excellent job of making the trope her own and creating a wonderful world within the confines of a forest and a secluded boarding school.  The beginning of the novel starts off a bit confusing, because there are three different strings of consciousness and point of views happening in every other chapter.  There is the main frame story, which is the story of Sing and her experiences at the boarding school, the story of the Felix (which I won’t tell you about), and the tale of two young friends, Nathan and George.

I’m not going to lie, at first I totally had no idea how the Nathan and George story fit into the other two storylines.  But, stick with it past the first few chapters and it all begins to fall together and make sense.  Rule’s novel was one I was not expecting to sweep me off my feet as it did (another way it relates to Phantom to me!), and it is one I will revisit often when I have the time.

Pick up a copy of this ASAP.

4.5 Bards.  (-.5 for the confusing start)



  1. Missy Taylor says:

    I love Phantom! Can’t wait to read it!

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