Chester Hays has been on the road for months, searching for his vanished father.
The 17-year-old plays his fiddle in return for room and board, but one night at a Hamelin saloon, he’s caught tapping into the Song, the source of life in a world where Music is magic and only licensed Songshapers are allowed to connect to “the heartbeat of the world.” His punishment for committing this blasphemy: death. Fate intervenes when the ambiguously “tan” Chester is rescued from the chopping block by the infamous Nightfall Gang. There’s mercurial, burly, white cowboy Sam; white lesbian Dot, an inventive Songshaper; foppish, brown-skinned lady’s man Travis; and pale-skinned, trouser-wearing redhead Susannah, their headstrong captain. This group of teenage, Robin Hood–esque outlaws travels in their echoship through the Hush, a terrifying distorted parallel reality formed from excess Music and populated by deadly Echoes. The Nightfall Gang may hold the clues to Chester’s father’s disappearance, but the only way he’ll find out is to go along with a very dangerous plan that might cost Chester his life. The story is beautifully paced as it unfolds one tantalizing, shocking detail at a time. Masterfully drawn details are so crisp, so tangible, that readers will be surprised they can’t just reach out and touch this rich world.
A steampunk-tinged fantasy adventure with plenty of breath-holding action. (Fantasy. 12-18)