STARRED REVIEW
May 2015

A teen’s chilling double-life

By Frances Hardinge
Review by
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.
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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.

 

Diane Colson works at the Nashville Public Library. She has long been active in the American Library Association's Young Adult Library Association (YALSA), serving on selection committees such as the Morris Award, the Alex Award and the Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award.

This article was originally published in the May 2015 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

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Cuckoo Song

Cuckoo Song

By Frances Hardinge
Amulet
ISBN 9781419714801

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