I was immediately interested in Chantress because of it's beautiful cover and the story did not disappoint either. Chantress is about Lucy, who lives on a deserted island with her guardian Norrie. Singing is strictly prohibited so when Lucy hears the faint sound of a song on All Hallows Eve she is terribly curious. Unable to control herself, Lucy gives herself over to the song and starts to sing aloud causing devastating consequences. It turns out that Lucy is actually a Chantress and has the power to weave magic with her voice. As soon as she starts singing, Norrie and herself are transported off the island, back to London, Lucy's birthplace. This should be a good thing, but London is ridden with Shadowgrims, magic crows that have the power read all your thoughts and instill fear if you get too close. Shadowgrims are a particular threat to Chantresses as they are drawn to their magic and can feed off it. When Lucy arrives in London she finds that she has been separated from Norrie and has absolutely no idea where to go or who to turn to. She sort of accidentally ends up at the residence of Nat and his guardian who are part of an organisation called the Invisible College. The IC is trying to fight against the Lord Protector's regime and rid the world of Shadowgrims for good, but the only way they can do this is with a Chantress' magic. Lucky for them, Lucy is a Chantress, and probably the last of her kind; unlucky for them, Lucy has no idea how to use her powers. The IC and Lucy have to work together quickly to free London from the Lord Protector's tyranny but there are many obstacles in their way.
Chantress is written from the first person perspective which gives us an interesting insight into Lucy's mind. In a story where not a lot of the characters trust each other, this was most helpful as it meant that I could actually understand what was going on and Lucy wasn't a predictable character so it wasn't at all boring. I don't really think that many of the other characters were developed as fully as they could've been and many of them are in the story for very, very short snippets, but then, the main focus is on Lucy and her development so I guess this wasn't a bother.
I have to admit I didn't really understand Nat and Lucy's relationship. It wasn't exactly instalove, but I still didn't feel that it was developed as well as it could've been. Nat hates Lucy at the beginning of the story and, in my opinion, there isn't any sort of real indication that this changes. I think this was mainly because we, as a reader, don't see them spend that much time together, nevertheless, it was still rather cute.
I found the plot synopsis above particularly difficult to write for some reason which goes to show just how intricate a world the author has created. However, I didn't feel that a lot of things actually happened in this novel. There's a lot of description and back story but there isn't much action until the very end of the story and even then, it is very brief. Given that this is just the first book in a trilogy, I'm hoping that in the subsequent two novels a lot more things will happen as now the background to the story has been set up. That said, this novel could actually work as a standalone story as it didn't really give any indication at the end that there was more coming, in fact, I was quite comfortable with the ending, which is something that I rarely feel.
All in all, I'd highly recommend Chantress as it presents a beautifully intricate and interesting world. It's set in 17th century London and a lot of the facts are historically accurate, though these are really subtle things and they don't particularly contribute to the plot in any way. This was a really good novel for setting up the story and the background to the character's plight, but I'm looking forward to the next two books for a bit more action.