The Orphan's Song by Lauren Kate
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on June 25, 2019
Genres: Fiction, Historical, Historical Fiction
Length: 336 pages Source: BookCon 2019
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Venice, 1736. When fate brings Violetta and Mino together on the roof of the Hospital of the Incurables, they form a connection that will change their lives forever. Both are orphans at the Incurables, dreaming of escape. But when the resident Maestro notices Violetta's voice, she is selected for the Incurables' world famous coro, and must sign an oath never to sing beyond its church doors.
After a declaration of love ends in heartbreak, Mino flees the Incurables in search of his family. Known as the "city of masks," Venice is full of secrets, and Mino is certain one will lead to his long-lost mother. Without him, the walls close in on Violetta and she begins a dangerous and forbidden nightlife, hoping her voice can secure her freedom. But neither finds what they are looking for, until a haunting memory Violetta has suppressed since childhood leads them to a shocking confrontation.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookCon 2019 and G.P. Putnam's Sons in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This book was absolutely beautiful.
I don’t typically go in for romance, but sometimes, when it’s paired with exquisitely written historical fiction, I fall head-over-heels for it. That’s how I feel about The Orphan’s Song.
I picked this book up at BookCon a couple weeks ago, and had the opportunity to meet Lauren Kate. I’d read Fallen when I was younger and I remember very little of it except that there were parts I really liked, and parts I thought were super cheesy. I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Orphan’s Song as Lauren moved from YA to adult, but I think she’s found a perfect fit. Once I started reading, I just couldn’t put it down.
Venice has always enraptured me, particularly in this era. It’s as though it’s a different world, where everyone is hidden behind masks. Lauren has brought the historic culture of Venice to life, but she’s also bought vibrant characters from all social classes and a beautiful story of music and passion. Sometimes, you read a book, and you can feel the author’s lifeblood in it? That’s The Orphan’s Song.
This book is told in two voices – Mino and Violetta. They’re both orphans, raised in the House of the Incurables. They fell in love young, but they went their separate ways. Maybe I’m reading the wrong books, but I feel like that “the one that got away” romantic trope has been sorely absent as of late, and so help me… I love it. There’s so many shades of emotion – joy, excitement, pride, fear, loss, ruin, passion… Lauren Kate writes it all as for the reader to experience alongside Mino and Violetta. It feels like more than just words.
At first, her writing style threw me a bit. It was beautiful, but not in a flowery way. If anything, it was overly simple, but it didn’t feel unskilled. At the end of the book (this isn’t really a spoiler, just something I didn’t put together), we find out that they story is actually being told by another character, and suddenly the style of writing fell into place for me. But not knowing that, I was ready to criticize it. And at the same time, I really liked it? I think that if I read several books with a similar style back to back, it would be exhausting, but this one by itself was lovely in its own way and I appreciated it.
I will say that the pacing was quick. I never felt like we were truly delving into the heart of the story, because this tale takes the reader from when the characters are young children well into adulthood. The transitions are flawless, but just as I was getting the rhythm of the coro, we were at La Sirena and it seemed like a race to keep up at times. I’m not sure if the story as it stands would have worked otherwise, and I liked each of the scenes on their own… but it was fast.
Most romance novels – even those using romance as a subgenre – don’t both with a plot outside of the love story. I actually appreciated that this one did, and it was as much of a plot device to bring the two back together as it was a lifelong search. The grand reveal at the end felt a bit rushed, but the two ships had sailed past each other unbeknownst so many times… I forgive it.
All in all, I really liked this book, and I don’t say that lightly. I’m not much of a romantic, but this one had a magical feel, even though it was historical fiction. You could feel the author’s love for the city in the pages. It’s also a quick read, and a good, deeply romantic pool-side read for this muggy June days. I’d easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and romance, and for those who read Fallen and her other work when they were younger and have grown a bit since… Lauren Kate’s writing has grown as well and this is definitely worth a read.
The Orphan’s Song stays on the shelf.
Not only would I read this again for the sheer pleasure of enjoying Venice, but this is a personalized, signed ARC and I don’t really want to give it away? Normally I’m all for passing on ARCs to other readers, but you know… this one has my name in it. 🙂 And I really liked it anyway, so I don’t want to part with it just yet. I really do think I’ll re-read it, when the mood strikes me and I need a beautiful story to fall back on.
Do you enjoy historical romance? From what I’ve read, it’s either wonderful (like this book or Philippa Gregory) or it’s overly sappy and I can’t stomach it… but do you have any favorites? Some suggestions that aren’t too sappy? Let me know in the comments!