Review - The Thief Who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson

Review - The Thief Who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson

The Island of Morovia is shaped like a broken heart. The humans live on one side of the island, and the alkonosts - the bird-people - live on the other. But it wasn't always this way...

Linnet wishes she could sing magic, like her father, Nightingale - and bring the two sides of her island together again. For her land has been divided by a terrible tragedy, and Linnet has been banished with her father to the deepest swamps, leaving behind her best friends, Hero and Silver.

So when her father is captured, Linnet must be brave and embark on a treacherous journey. Through alligator pools and sinking sands, she finds new friends. Yet without her singing magic, Linnet discovers something even more powerful. Something that could save her father, and heal the broken heart of her island once more...



I'm a huge Sophie Anderson fan, so was very excited to get a chance to review The Thief Who Sang Storms. 

It's actually a book that took me a while to get into. I think this is largely because it feels very different to Sophie's earlier novels. There's less of the emphasis on folklore and myth that I have come to expect from her, with The Thief Who Sang Storms set in an entirely fantasy kingdom. It's a fascinating place though, one of three islands that moves freely around the seas, sometimes drifting closer to each other, sometimes farther apart. It's an island split by divisions too. There are the alkonosts, bird-like humanoids with diverse magical powers rooted in song, and there are humans. Once they lived in perfect harmony, but then, following a tragic accident, the humans seized power and the alkonosts were exiled, forced to eke out a meagre existence in the swamps or locked up for forced labour.

Linnet, our main character, is a young alkonost girl, split from her human friends, grieving her mother, and trying to find her own magic, firmly believing in prophecies that suggest it might be the thing to bring unity to the island of Morovia once more.

It's bold, imaginative fantasy, and although it took me a little while to really get into this new setting, this new style, I found it very worthwhile. The Thief Who Sang Storms is a very powerful book dealing with some very difficult issues with true beauty.

For this is a story about grief, about how we cope with loss, the overwhelming urge to wrap ourselves in cloaks of our grief and shut out the world, and of how to break through those barriers. It's not the first time Sophie has written about death and loss and the eloquence she treated it with in The House With Chicken Legs is present here too, showing an intensely painful and personal side of grief.

It's also a story about division, and this feels so relevant to the world we're currently in. It's an exploration of how fear leads to hate, how unity can break down into suspicion and division. But it's a story of hope too, and how those divisions can be overcome. And I think that is its most remarkable strength.

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The Thief Who Sang Storms by Sophie Anderson is available now, published by Usborne Publishing.
I was given a review copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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