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Publisher's Summary

A thought-provoking, critically acclaimed novel from Frances Hardinge, winner of the Costa Book of the Year and Costa Children’s Book Awards for The Lie Tree

When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry, her sister seems scared of her, and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest to find the truth, she must travel into the terrifying underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family - before it’s too late. 

Set in England after World War I, this is a brilliantly creepy but ultimately loving story of the relationship between two sisters who must band together against a world where nothing is as it seems.

©2015 Frances Hardinge. Cover Illustrations © 2015 Vincent Chong. Published in 2015 by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, Inc. All rights reserved (P)2019 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about Cuckoo Song

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Grips you from the first sentence

The story isn’t what I thought it was going to be. It was way better! I couldn’t stop listening and the narrator is great

3 people found this helpful

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Well done but not Hardinge's best.

Series Info/Source: This is a stand alone book. I borrowed this as an audiobook through Audible Plus.

Audiobook Quality (4/5): The narration of this book was very well done and pleasant to listen to. The narrator did speak pretty slow for me, so I ended up listening to this at 1.2x. No complaints though, this was a great book to listen to on audiobook.

Story (4/5): This started out super slow but I ended up enjoying it once all the strange fae creatures started appearing. There are some interesting concepts behind how the fae survive and thrive. Also the idea of someone being replaced by something that’s not them but not realizing they’ve been replaced; it‘s super creepy. While this wasn’t as good as "A Face Like Glass" or "Deeplight" but still a well done story and beautifully written.

Characters (4/5): Triss was okay as a character but I never engaged with her all that well. She never really knows herself so it’s hard to really like her. She does grow and change as the book continues. I enjoyed some of the side characters more, especially some of the rather intriguing fae characters that flit in and out of the story.

Setting (4/5): This takes place in a suburb of London right after WWI. It’s an interesting setting and has widespread implications for how a lot of the adult characters act towards certain things. I enjoyed the discussions of how the fae are trying to survive in this new more technological world and enjoyed getting a glimpse into their small secret places.

Writing Style (4/5): This is writing beautifully with amazing description and great care and thoughtfulness. Unfortunately, that means this started out really really slow. The whole first part of the story where Triss is trying to figure out why she feels different was flat out boring at points. This is definitely a slow burn mystery for quite awhile. However, I ended up loving the second half of the book a ton. I still feel like Hardinge’s more recent books have been more creative and have more intriguing world-building and I have enjoyed those later books more.

My Summary (4/5): Overall I liked this and am glad I listened to it. This is the fourth Hardinge book I have read and I liked this a lot better than “A Skinful of Shadows” but not nearly as much as "A Face Like Glass" or "Deeplight”. Hardinge’s writing style is beautiful with amazing description and a lot of introspective thoughts. Unfortunately, this was just a bit slow to start for me. I plan on reading Hardinge’s “The Lie Tree” next on my quest to read all of Hardinge’s books.

2 people found this helpful

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Dark, mysterious, and beautifully written!

Frances Hardinge weaves a story about family, revenge, identity, loss, and forgiveness in a dark and creepy, yet beautifully told story. This is a story full of mystery, strange beings, and family drama. It takes us on a journey of sisterhood, friendship, and shows us the heartache war can cause and how it can tear apart families.

Set in a small 1920's English countryside town, a few years after WWI, this book follows Triss Crescent who wakes up in a bed surrounded by her parents and a doctor following a tragic accident that almost kills her. Only thing is Triss doesn't remember a thing, her sister hates her and is practically horrified of her, her parents are acting strangely, and as days go by Triss begins to notice peculiar things about herself. As she tries to piece things together her search will need her and her sister to work together and to travel into the strange dark underbelly of the city to search for a being called The Architect.

I came into this story not expecting it to be as good as it was. It definitely caught my interest, but I was finding myself annoyed with the incessant whining and tantrums of Triss's sister and the drama surrounding this family. But the authors writing kept me coming back and as the story unfolded I did not want to put the story down. The story took on these wonderful twists that kept me coming back, and I even started wishing for a movie to be made of this book! As the book went along I just loved all of the characters, including the whiny sister, and the world we were taken into is so mysterious and dark and otherworldly. What happened on that night to Triss that leaves her with such a foggy recollection that night? Who is she that causes her sister to be afraid of her? Who were the men seen at the water's edge the night of her accident? How does her family play into all this mystery as well, and who is this Architect that is entwined with her family? You must read this wonderful dark story to figure this all out and I hope you enjoy the story as much as I did! As for Katherine Press narrating this story, her voice lends such a beautiful touch to bringing this story to life. I did find she narrated a little too slowly for my liking, and I ended up speeding up the playback to like 1.30, but with Frances's prose and Katherine's narration I was enchanted by this story!

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Such beautiful writing!

Frances Harding never ceases to amaze me! Her writing is so beautiful, and her storytelling so compelling! I didn’t imagine I would love this book as much as I did - it has become a favorite. And the narrator was wonderful - very clear, expressive, and able to give distinct voices to a wide array of characters. Wonderful!

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Wow, 5 stars across the board

Beautifully written and beautifully narrated. The story contains an element of mystery for the first third or so and then clues begin to add up for the protagonist and we are carried along on her journey of self-discovery. The story is thrilling, unusually character driven given that on the face of it this is an action fantasy novel. The character development, the psychology, the insight into human behavior and feelings. and all of this intertwined with beautifully developed themes, make this one of the best novels I've experienced in the last year. The narration is absolutely pitch perfect from beginning to end. So I'm glad I stumbled upon this book and will be visiting the author's other work and tracking down other things read by the narrator.

Side note: This is suitable for a wide readership, from children to adults. Children will surely find it extremely entertaining, and safe enough, while adults who enjoy fantasy and mystery will enjoy it the same way, but can also enjoy it as a novel of great depth. What a rare thing, for a novelist to thread those needles (pun intended... you'll know what I mean after you've read or listened to this book 🙂).

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Such a great story. Fantastic but real.

Such a great story. Fantastic but real. Not what I expected, but much better. Such great characters.

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great book 👍

I loved this story. I think it should be considered to be made into a movie 💗