A Review of Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

Its literary genre is "young adult," but older adults will be enchanted by this magical tale too

If proof were needed that writing ability is a matter of DNA, look no further than the newly released book “Strange Sweet Song” [St. Martin’s Griffin, $18.99].

The author is Adi Rule, daughter of Rebecca Rule, the beloved writer of New Hampshire lore. Though Adi’s still young, not long out of graduate school (an MFA), her writing is sharp and sophisticated, with evocative combinations of words (“the crackling edge” of a forest, peering into the “twisted darkness”).

The plot of the book is fairy-tale-like, with a magical forest, otherworldly creatures and mysterious happenings. But mostly it is a coming-of-age tale of a young soprano at a music academy. Looming over her life is her late mother, a celebrated singer, and her father, an influential figure in the music world who is "tugging on the invisible marionette strings of her budding career." As she begins to disentangle herself from her parents and claim her own identity ("a different melody"), she learns that — when she resists her ego, her desire to be a diva — only then does the music flow.

"Strange Sweet Song" is an amazing debut for Adi. For sure, this book will not be her last.

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