The Singer and Her Song (Empire at Twilight Book 2) by N.L. Holmes – Review by Francis O’Sullivan

The Singer and Her SongThe Singer and Her Song by N.L. Holmes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Singer and Her Song is an immersive historical novel by N.L. Holmes. It is the second book in the Empire at Twilight series and can be read on its own.
I adore Holmes’ vivid descriptions of historical settings. She combines in depth historical research with a rich imagination and attention to detail to bring to life worlds that are millennia old. The characters feel so alive and their experiences and emotions are so moving and engaging.
The Singer and Her Song is a dark, heart-breaking story. Uqnitum, the singer, is not a likeable character. She has a temper and a need to be in control that drives people away from her and makes her difficult to work with. But it is also the strength and conviction that she needs to survive in a world that seems determined to take everything from her. The narrative alternates between different perspectives and whilst from other perspectives we see the damage Uqnitum wrecks on those around her, from her own perspective we see her processing immense grief and loss and fighting to protect what she has left.
For me, the real strength of this novel is how it addresses issues and struggles that are just as real today, with the writing style bringing them to life and drawing the reader in. We see refugees living through terrible experiences and then struggling to build a new life in a strange place. We see tensions in families who love each other but can’t spend time together without getting into fights. We see people in power thinking they can get away with hurting others. It all feels very relevant
This story contains graphic descriptions of violence and death, as well as scenes of sexual abuse. As such, it’s not suitable for younger readers but would make a great read for adults who loved historical fiction in their youth.
For me, this is a five-star book. It totally drew me in and transported me to an unfamiliar place and time. It’s not a cheerful read, but there is hope and strength in the characters and their stories. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and stories about messy family life.

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