Title: Sing Sweet Nightingale
Series: The Dream War Saga, Book #1
Author: Erica Cameron
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press
Publication date: March 4th 2014
Page Count: 320 pages
Age Rating: Young Adult and Up (cursing, violence, and death)
How I got my hot little hands on it: Received an ARC to review
Publisher’s page: Sing Sweet Nightingale
Mariella Teagen hasn’t spoken a word in four years.
She pledged her voice to Orane, the man she loves—someone she only sees in her dreams. Each night, she escapes to Paradise, the world Orane created for her, and she sings for him. Mariella never believed she could stay in Paradise longer than a night, but two weeks before her eighteenth birthday, Orane hints that she may be able to stay forever.
Hudson Vincent made a pledge to never fight again.
Calease, the creature who created his dream world, swore that giving up violence would protect Hudson. But when his vow caused the death of his little brother, Hudson turned his grief on Calease and destroyed the dream world. The battle left him with new abilities and disturbing visions of a silent girl in grave danger—Mariella.
Now, Hudson is fighting to save Mariella’s life while she fights to give it away. And he must find a way to show her Orane’s true intentions before she is lost to Paradise forever.
Creepy and captivating, Sing Sweet Nightingale is a YA paranormal horror story embodying some very important pieces of wisdom:
– If something seems too good to be true, it probably is: Seemingly benevolent, wise creatures come to specially chosen youths at night, drawing them into a dream world and offering them something in exchange for a simple promise. Hudson promises not to get into fights in exchange for the mentoring he needs to keep him out of trouble. Mariella promises not to utter a single word and in return she gets a nightly Paradise escape and a handsome man who loves her.
– What you don’t know, can hurt you: These beings have an agenda of their own, they lie and manipulate, using the promises made to steal the extraordinary skills these chosen ones possess. Hudson is a born fighter, and Mariella, a born leader – their respective promises steal this from them.
– Be careful what you wish for: Hudson’s promise not to fight results in him standing helplessly by while his little (4 years old!) brother is killed right in front of him. When he finds out he’s been lied to, he reacts by turning on his dream world and its creator, destroying them both and coming out changed – solid black eyes, visions, and various very useful abilities. It’s the visions that lead him to Mariella, whose promise not to speak has isolated her from friends and family and almost completely kept her insulated from the real world – just the way her dream world creator, Orane, wants it.
Sing Sweet Nightingale is told through the alternating first person perspectives of Hudson and Mariella. The book focuses on Hudson trying his damnedest to find a way to get Mariella out of Orane’s grasp, and Mariella resisting for all she’s worth.
There were two things in this book that really stuck with me. The first was the opening chapter in which Hudson’s brother, 4 year old J.R., dies. I’ve read books where little kids have died before, but I don’t remember ever reading an actual scene involving the killing of a child and then watching them die. I was really affected by that, a lot, so I want to add a trigger warning here. The second thing that got to me was Orane’s predatory nature. I mean, I get that he was a demon and evil and all that, but he started bringing Mariella to his dream world when she was 8 and then started a romantic relationship with her when she turned 16. I was really creeped out by that. So much so, I cringed, actually, physically cringed, whenever they kissed. Knowing it was a way to manipulate her against seeking an outside relationship in the real world rather than any kind pedophilic nature didn’t really help. Even Hudson recoiled in disgust when he finds out the kind of relationship between Orane and Mariella.
I was not surprised to learn the author has a degree in Psychology, it definitely shows in the dream demon’s M.O. and in how well fleshed out the characters were in their actions and motivations. I loved the cast of characters in this one. The main characters were great, don’t get me wrong, but it was the supporting cast that really made the book for me. I especially liked Dawn, the short, nearsighted, 14 year old who worked at the New Age store and was always handy with the knowledge and K.T., Mariella’s friend from childhood who’s never given up on a friend who hasn’t spoken to her in years and who doesn’t even know who she is. I also really loved that the parental units were interesting and part of the plot AND let into the loop of the paranormal goings-on – something we don’t see too often in YA books.
Sing Sweet Nightingale is the first book in the Dream War Sage, which looks to be a promising series. From relatable characters to such a unique plot, this is definitely one to follow. I eagerly look forward to the next book in this series.
The portals to the dream world open up at midnight, either to draw in their prey (like Mariella in most of this book) or to attack their opponents (Hudson gets more than one nasty midnight attack). To avoid being caught off guard, I recommend Mystic Monk Coffee Midnight Vigils Blend – a smooth, dark blend, strong enough to keep you awake and aware when you need it most.