The Demon Girl’s Song by Susan Jane Bigelow
Expected publication: 25.09.2016
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 4/5 stars
I received this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Synopsis: More than anything, Andín dal Rovi wants to escape her small town life, helping her father in the store, watching her younger brother prepare to take the place at University she’d longed for. Instead of escape, she gets a thousand-year-old demon stuck in her head, and she loses everything – her home, her family and her country. In the quest to regain her identity, she finds herself racing against time to uncover the secrets of her world – and save it from utter annihilation.
I just realized this book will be released on my birthday! Ha. I don’t know why that’s funny to me. It’s early when I’m writing this, forgive me.
The story starts in Viko Station, a small town in the Antrimanian Empire, when Andín finds out her father is sending her little brother to University instead of her, like he promised. Andín has dreamed of leaving her small town for ages. She wants to study, learn and travel the empire. As it states in the synopsis, things don’t quite go her way. Instead, she loses her country and her family, and has to travel to find the answers she’s looking for. As she travels, you get to discover her world. More than just the Empire she grew up in, as she is forced out. You learn about the different countries such as Shuyu and Alavia (Alavesh). She travels through deserts and over seas.
This fantasy world is a mix of the usual medieval style, and more modern technology. Trains have been invented, there is modern plumbing, big cities have electric lamps and guns have been created. That makes it even more interesting to me! You still get the magical aspects of old cities, horses, castles and emperors but you get part of the convenience of modern day tech.
I do have to admit that I could have used a map. Because Andín uses so many different means of transportation (a train, a horse, a boat) it can be hard to keep track of time, and thus of distance. It would have been nice to be able to visualize where the different countries shared a border, and where the mentioned cities were located. Maybe a map will be included in the final book, I’m not sure, but my Kindle ARC didn’t have one.
You learn more about the history of the lands as Andín does. As the demon inside her is 1000 years old, he has so much knowledge about the history which is a fun way to learn!
The synopsis doesn’t really reveal much, which is a good thing in my opinion. This story is basically Andín’s journey of discovery. I highly enjoyed the story, and read it in 2 sittings. Her travels and discoveries were incredibly interesting to me, as she not only discovers the world, but so much about herself too.
Like I said before, it was a bit hard to keep track of time throughout this novel. At times, I felt like all these big events and discoveries were happening so quickly to her. Yet when I think about it, I believe this novels spans over more than half a year (last chapter not included). It thus felt quite filled with action and revelations while in fact they happened more spaced out. It made for a captivating, although at times a tad confusing, read.
My only real “issue” with this book is that the events just seem a bit convenient at times. She conveniently meets this person who can take her to this place. There she conveniently meets a person she’s been dreaming about. It just seemed like too much of a coincidence after a while.
To be honest, it’s refreshing to read a fantasy standalone!
Obviously, we need to talk about Andín. Andín is described as a provincial girl because she grew up in a small town. She’s also darker-skinned, as you can see from the cover, although it isn’t talked about much by itself. It’s more commented on when she travels through other lands and people notice her darker hair and eyes, and obviously skin. At first, she may come over as a bit childish because she throws a tantrum in the beginning. To me, it didn’t feel that way though. Her reasons for being so angry seemed justified. I was angry for her too, especially because her father literally tells her it’s because she’s a girl that she can’t go to the University. During these months, Andín grows up a lot. She really discovers so much about herself, and I found it an intriguing process to watch. She and the demon gradually converge, and eventually it will be like they are one person. The demon teaches her a lot, and vice versa. I liked her character a lot, especially by the end. She had truly grown a lot as a person.
Next, we have the demon (who actually has a name, but I don’t want to give anything away). At first, I thought it was a horrible being. Obviously, demons aren’t often good beings in our culture and literature. But like Andín, its character grew a lot throughout the story. From a mean and vicious jerk, to a kinder person. Another aspect of this book I enjoyed is that the demon is male, while Andín is female. However part of the demon’s whole being is that he intertwines with the person he inhabits, until they almost become one. So we start from a male demon, but as we go along he becomes more female? And the pronouns change, because that demon now thinks of itself more as female. Intriguing, no? Lastly, the most fascinating aspect of the demon was its knowledge, to me. Being over 1000 years old, he has so much knowledge to offer Andín: languages, skills such as horseback riding and shooting guns, history and so on. While Andín can make use of the memories to learn those skills, she needs to adapt too. For example, she couldn’t just immediately shoot perfectly, her muscles needed to adapt to the feeling and the recoil first. Same with horseback riding. She knows how to do it in theory, yet her body still has to adapt.
There are many more fascinating characters throughout this book. A woman who has become famous because she battles for women’s rights for example. A diplomat’s wife who wants to join that cause. This book embraces conservative viewpoints, and modern ones. Women have no rights, but people notice and women are starting to stand up for themselves. It has quite a bit of feminism mixed in, although it never feels like too much. And there are LGBT characters as well, without making it seem like a big deal. And the main character is darker-skinned! Yay for diversity. I love that the diversity is prevalent in this book, yet it never overshadows the actual plot and fantasy aspect.
I’d definitely recommend this book, especially to fantasy and/or YA fans. Keep your eyes peeled for September 25th, that’s my conclusion. While I would have loved the addition of a map to make the world clearer, and a more set time division to see how much time has truly passed, I still highly enjoyed this book. The fantasy aspect was intriguing, the characters developed massively and there was quite a bit of diversity in this book without making it seem like a big deal. It never overshadowed the plot, it was just there, you know?