- Sing Me Forgotten by Jessica S. Olson
Trade ed. ISBN 9781335147943 $19.99
E-book ed. ISBN 9781488076237 $9.99
Reviewed from digital galleys Ad Gr. 7–10
In the catacombs beneath the Channe Opera House lives Isda, a magical gravoir, a being with the illegal ability to dive into the minds of people as they sing in order to view and even manipulate the singer’s memories. When she’s drawn to the voice of Emeric, the new young janitor, she seizes the chance to groom him for the stage and immerse herself in his vibrant memories of a world her ability and twisted face prevent her from knowing firsthand. Cyril, the man who rescued and raised Isda from infancy, has his own plans for her, and between Cyril’s manipulations, her attraction to Emeric, and a surprising figure she follows through Emeric’s memories, Isda learns that her powers are far more extensive than her narrow life in the shadows has allowed her to explore. With selective elements drawn from The Phantom of the Opera, the influence here is the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical as much as the Gaston Leroux novel. The concept of a genderbent Phantom is enjoyable, and there’s poignancy in the choice of singing as the vector for magical memory communion. Sadly, the broader world doesn’t feel grounded, and Isda’s over-the-top romance with Emeric is underscored by awkward prose that scrambles for emotional resonance. Those desiring a more sophisticated homage to the music of the night should look to Howard’s RoseBlood (BCCB 3/17); there’s something fun about watching Isda go full villain on a world that has wronged her and her kind, though, and the concept and doomed romance may be enough to draw readers.