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.