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ARC Review: The Song that Moves the Sun by Anna Bright


Release date: 28 June 2022

Rating: 2/5

Indie: No

Publisher: HarperCollins

Synopsis: This sweeping YA fantasy romance full of star-crossed love, complex female friendship, and astrological magic is perfect for fans of Laini Taylor, Alexandra Bracken, and V.E. Schwab. From the acclaimed author of The Beholder.


Best friends Rora and Claudia have never felt more like their lives are spiraling out of control. And when they meet Major and Amir--two boys from one of the secret cities of the spheres, ruled by the magic of the astrological signs--they discover they're not alone. There is a disruption in the harmony between the spheres, and its chaos is spreading.


To find the source of the disharmony, Rora and Claudia will embark on a whirlwind journey of secrets, romance, and powerful truths--about themselves, each other, and two long-ago explorers named Dante and Beatrice, who were among the first to chart this course toward the stars.


Inspired partly by the classic works of Dante Alighieri, this gorgeous stand-alone contemporary fantasy will captivate readers of Lore and Star Daughter.

 

Review

I read Bright’s The Beholder and enjoyed it, but I don’t think I enjoyed it enough to read the second one in a timely fashion. That said, I won’t rule out a reread, as I do know it was good enough for me to remember half a plot for it, which is more than I can say for many books I read. The Song that Moves the Sun, however, did not grab me like Bright’s debut. It took until about 15% of the way in for it to catch even the tiniest bit of my interest, and the opening scenes for Rora, Amir, Major, and Claudia did not feel very effective at drawing me into the story (or Claudia and Rora, for that matter).


Our story begins with Dante, who is based off of the historical figure and author of The Divine Comedy, who runs around every where with his newfound friend, Marco Polo, and together, they meet his childhood love, Beatrice—or Bice (bee cheh)—who is studying at university in secret because she’s a girl and it’s the 1200’s. These chapters alternate with our story of the four friends from modernity, though they don’t feel seamlessly integrated. I know there is supposed to be a juxtaposition between the two from the start, but it takes far too much mental effort to place anything in the beginning of this story. The segues are disjointed, making the switches back and forth extremely jarring.


By the end of the book, Dante’s and Beatrice’s story and how it is connected to that of our four protagonists is not compelling enough for me. The book tells the story from the 12-1300’s very briefly in scheduled spurts; I feel like there was an attempt here at something like what Cloud Cuckoo Land presents to its readers but falls flat. In Song, our characters move toward something like anti-establishment but do so in a way that confuses the reader, muddles the prose, and over complicates the plot with finely detailed astrological references I think may soar over the heads of many readers who are not that into reading horoscopes. Though I own a signed, first edition of one of the reference books for this novel, I don’t see the forest for the trees as to the point the plot and the characters try to make. The plot and characters really do suffer for the sake of the gimmick of the astrological setting. I feel it could have been better either as a duology that fleshes out the characters more or with less technical details in such a condensed format. As it is, the novel is nearly 500 pages long, and it dragged terribly for me.


Unfortunately, my experience with this book does not line up with the over 4-star-average rating on Goodreads. It bored me near to tears and made me dread reading for a couple of days. I don't really recommend it based off of the promised fantastical journey from the synopsis. My advice is to hold off purchasing and make sure it's a pick for you by possibly renting from the library first.


My thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the ARC, for which I willingly give my own, honest opinion.


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