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Sing the LightBook Review
by Brandie B. Minchew
Title: Sing the Light
Author: Louise Marley
Publisher: Ace Books (November 1995)
Louise Marley’s musical training shines brightly in her 1995 novel, Sing the Light. Using her knowledge of music and musicians, she brings to life a world where music is essential, and its Singers are indispensable.
Each day on the frozen planet of Nevya begins and ends with a prayer: “Sing the light, sing the warmth, receive the gift, o Singers; the light and warmth are in you.” The Singers of Nevya possess a unique Gift – the ability to create essential warmth and light with music. Using music as a focus to enhance their psi, the strongest Singers, known as Cantors and Cantrixes, protect the thirteen houses of Nevya from the planet’s deadly cold.
The story opens with Sira, Nevya’s newest Cantrix, and her journey from Conservatory where Singers are rigorously trained to her new post in House Bariken. Once away from her idyllic existence at Conservatory among her fellow Singers, Sira quickly realizes that she has a great deal to learn about her world - lessons in human nature, love, death, and betrayal that she never imagined. Sira’s inexperience and shyness contrast with a strong will, honed and strengthened by years of discipline and training. When tragedy strikes, Sira’s unbending spirit both saves and injures her. She discovers that the rigid code of traditions she has been taught to follow is riddled with cracks that threaten Nevya’s very existence.
Marley’s descriptions of Nevya and its people are both lyrical and precise. She contrasts grand vistas of silent, snow-covered plains and mountains with the crowded, noisy houses ruled by a strict code of conduct and tradition. Marley’s depiction of the Singers and their inner world of music charms and entices.
The character of Sira is brilliantly written; Marley portrays her believably as both a bright, dedicated musician and an inexperienced young girl with a powerful gift that lays a heavy responsibility on its bearer. The novel’s excellent pacing draws us along beside Sira through her many journeys across Nevya’s snow-covered surface. Marley slowly builds her suspenseful scenes as a violinist might tighten her strings, and readers may find themselves holding their breaths even on a second reading.
Sing the Light is more than a coming-of-age tale; it is also the story of a society whose strict observance of traditions meant to ensure survival may now be the root of its threatened extinction. Yet, Marley’s counterpoint reveals that some of the sacrifices tradition demands are crucial, such as the Singer’s complete dedication to his or her calling; that anything less than a total commitment to the Gift would prove disastrous to the world. Marley skillfully weaves descants of love, lust, betrayal, power, and loyalty into the narrative. This novel is both a pure, delightful read and a deep look into the human desperation to survive and the inner struggle that comes with the burden of power.
Sing the Light is the first book in Louise Marley’s quartet, The Singers of Nevya.
Brandie B. Minchew lives and writes in Houston, Texas, surrounded by cats who she swears sometimes eat her homework. No one believes her.
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