cover image We Are the Song

We Are the Song

Catherine Bakewell. Holiday House, $18.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8234-4889-0

Twelve-year-old Elissa is one of the goddess Caé’s 12 chosen Singers, individuals whose voices possess bewitching power capable of healing wounds, invigorating crops, and stopping landslides through song. She travels her homeland, Cadenza, with her overprotective music tutor and composer, Lucio, providing aid and relief to the war-torn nation’s citizens. During a stop at a royal palace, Lucio shows increasing disregard for his songwriting responsibilities and agrees to perform music with the potential to incur great harm, causing Elissa to question her role as a “mouthpiece of the goddess.” Her role is further put into question when military leaders attempt to weaponize her gift. After a mysterious visitor emboldens Elissa to write her own musical spells—something Lucio disapproves of—she sets off on a harrowing journey to save Cadenza from ruin. The cast sometimes feel like vehicles for the story’s events rather than fully formed individuals, making it difficult for readers to foster connections with the protagonists. Nevertheless, Bakewell’s beguiling debut—brimming with high-stakes adventure, expansive worldbuilding, and a uniquely detailed magical system—steadily crescendos to a gratifying conclusion. Major characters cue as white. Ages 8–12. Agents: Devin Ross, New Leaf Literary & Media. (May)