Review posted February 5, 2024.
Bloomsbury, 2023. 417 pages.
Review written July 9, 2023, from an Advance Review Copy sent by the publisher.
2023 Sonderbooks Stand-out:
#10 Teen Speculative Fiction
Sing Me to Sleep is the story of Saoirse, a siren living in a kingdom ruled by fae, where her existence is illegal. Fortunately, she has access to magic that enables her to change her appearance. By night, she sets aside that magic and works as a hired assassin. She has the power to sing to her marks and convince them to kill themselves. This satisfies the instincts that being near water rouse in her – water calling to her to kill.
By day, working in the training academy, Saoirse has posed as a fae who has no affinity for water or fire or air, even though they are generally despised, so that her power to control water will not be noticed. Then she must work to outperform all the other trainees. But when she achieves the top ranking, she is assigned to serve the Prince, part of the regime she despises.
The reader is of course not surprised when romantic tension sparks between them, despite Saoirse’s disguise with a scar across her face. But this leads Saoirse into conflict about the people she’s been asked to kill and the goals of her employer. The question of who her employer is becomes more important. Did the people she killed deserve death? Does she want the monarchy overthrown if it means the prince will die? And who, exactly, can she trust?
The world-building in this book is expertly done, without info dumps, as we gradually come to see there are more nuances than simply the monarchy is bad and needs to come down.
All the characters in this book have black or brown skin – a simple given, which is refreshing. Saoirse is stunningly beautiful – that’s her deadly weapon, and it’s nice seeing a black girl in that role.
The book does come to a finish at a nice place – but provides a lead-in to more. That’s how I like fantasy series to work. A danger was averted and the kingdom saved – but there’s still more to be done. And I’m looking forward to reading on.