Destined to take the reader to a new world far away, Sky Song is a fast-moving new urban fantasy novel from UK author, Sharon Sant. It is the first novel in The Sky Song trilogy, which follows the unique life of Jacob and his close friends, when expectantly a voice in Jacob’s head introduces him to a new way of life indeed. And why does this voice keep on calling him Ioh? Truth be told, Sky Song is a brilliantly structured book and gives a promising start to what is bound to be an engaging trilogy.
Jacob Lightfoot has always known he was adopted, but with two loving parents and great friends, he’s never pondered his origins. That is until a mysterious voice fills his dreams that gives light to another world entirely. Born Ioh, Jacob must sift through the suspiciously vague advice from Dae and the increasingly attractive offer to float away with another figure who approaches him from within the shadows. But the life of a teenager is never an easy one; hormones, fleeting emotions, social life … all is portrayed in this fantasy that successfully balances the reality and fantastical. As Jacob becomes more aware of the truth and ever-increasing power that grows within him, he knows that a special destiny is calling him. A destiny that means he must leave the safety of life on Earth, leave his family and his friends, and start anew on a world he barely knows and give the people of Astrae a new future.
What works extremely well here is the right balance of what we know is real and what we learn is fantasy. As a reader we know that the book we are reading is fantasy, especially if it set in a completely new and fabricated world, but here within Sky Song as it’s wonderfully set in the real world and although there are obvious elements of fantasy, it is a true sense of realism that allows us to really connect with Jacob and his plight. The setting is very traditional in the sense of English towns and nothing out of the ordinary is apparent until the voices start to appear.
It even has elements of paranormal qualities, especially as voices talk to him, warn him, guide him. We do learn that the voices are coming from Dae, a Watcher from the world, Astrae, and although this is more science fiction, it does come across more as paranormal, which I find thrilling and addictive to say the least. Jacob also has eyes that change colour depending on his mood and emotions; an inventive and highly original concept indeed for a character, and a point that is reassuringly referred to again and again throughout the entire novel.
As I have already mentioned, Sky Song is a fast-paced story indeed and
this is down to Sant’s brilliant and ingenious structure. It can be quite difficult to capture a reader’s attention fully over the course of book, where some points become slightly mundane and you have to just get through the chapter, but it honestly isn’t an issue here. Fuelled action and new discoveries keep the book alive in the beginning and in the middle the pace does slow a little, but this is essential in character building and relationship structure. By the end, we are ready for more action and a great fight scene and are left with a banging cliff-hanger that will leave you itching for the sequel. Sometimes, YA books can actually dumb-down its language, but Sant most certainly writes using an extensive vocabulary that doesn’t patronise or alienate her readers. There are plenty of words in here that I could see being changed to more easily understood alternatives that would have made a sentence seem more simpler, and if that had happened it would undoubtedly have been a real shame.
The cast of three friends is an extremely unique concept as it adds a three-person dynamic, consisting of Jacob, Ellen and Luca. Each has their own personality and brings something different to the group, and that is essential in creating characters you really care about. As this book is YA, Sharon Sant really has set the bar high for other books in similar guises because she’s captured the mood and reactions of teenagers in such a genuine and faithful fashion. Whether it be the rushed throws of passion between the characters (where they really do believe that relationships last forever) or the flippant moods that the youth experience.
I’ve got to be honest, Jacob is a character that I loved in the beginning, was annoyed with in the middle, and respected in the end. I felt he was quite understated and witty at the beginning of the novel and by the end when he realises his destiny, I saw a new more mature approach to him. But I got so irritated by his tantrums and ignorant reactions in the middle of the book. I really did go off him, but that’s not to say that this wasn’t intentional. He was cooped up in hospital, fretted over by his mother, mystified by his future, lost mentally with what was expected of him. I suppose if I was in his position, I may become snappy and irritable. And again it truly reflects the life of a teenager. Obviously we don’t get voices in our head and capable of changing the structure of events that have already passed, but hormones rage through our bodies, cause us to lash out, become confused about who we are and what we are to become. Subconsciously, I think Sharon Sant has wonderfully come up with a brilliant metaphor of the continually changing life of a teenager.
I did fall in love with Ellen’s character though, it has to be said. This is a girl who brings a moral and truthful nature to the group and actually brings out the best in the boys. She’s intelligent and knowledgeable of life too, but it’s her sadness and grief at home that pulls on your heartstrings. Her mother is obviously an alcoholic and she must look after her brothers as well as her mother, and deal with what life throws at her with a strong resolve that she desperately tries to hide.
I’m greedy, I would have liked to see a bit more action and a bit more of Jacob’s learning in here, but overall Sky Song is a brilliant and well-written start to a trilogy that has so much potential. Its characters are believable and engaging, as well as fantasy elements that can appeal to every reader. And it’s a book that can attract both sexes too. Its fantasy is equally matched by its realism, and lots of original concepts thrown in to boot. If you like urban fantasy novels that don’t patronise and delivers faultless structure, then I’d definitely recommend this book.
You can read my interview with Sharon Sant here.
Sharon Sant Links:
Website/Blog – Sharon Sant – a Writer and Hobbit in training
Author facebook: Sharon Sant
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