A Chorus Rises by Bethany C. Morrow
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Okay, let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first: the tense issue. Ms. Morrow wanders through past and present similar to the way she did with the first book. I see her justification for it – again, you spend most of the time in the protagonist’s head – but it felt more jarring this time. I needed to back up and re-read passages more frequently, trying to recapture the thread of the story. (Sacrifices you make for an author you enjoy, I suppose. All the same, I wish the trend of present tense would fade already)
I adore Ms. Morrow for taking on the challenge of Naema’s character. (Though who’s to say she viewed it as a challenge?) You don’t want to feel sympathy for her after the previous book’s events – to say nothing of her attitude – but you also can’t deny the injustice of the situation. It’s a complex knot of emotion and social commentary that Ms. Morrow handles beautifully. Naema never once shifts from who she is, either – something plenty of other writers might have attempted. I can’t help but offer rampant applause for that (whether I like the character or not)
As before, the painting of a world where magic breathes alongside the everyday remains seamless. It is and isn’t believable in the same breath. You understand the complexity and deft mind at work and can’t help but admire every word.
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