Friday, February 9, 2018

A Song Unheard {spying + WW1}

Every so often a series premise comes along that has a little extra pop. When I first heard of Roseanna White's World War One series, it was the time period that attracted me. After all, there's not a ton of WW1 historical fiction out there. But street thieves being recruited as spies? Sign me up.

I read book one and really enjoyed it last year (see my review here) so when book two came up, I was really looking forward to it. A Song Unheard was absolutely five stars and full of all my favorite story elements.

If you enjoyed War of Loyalties and are in the mood for more espionage, this just might do the trick. ;)

The Book {description and cover from goodreads}
Willa Forsythe is both a violin prodigy and top-notch thief, which make her the perfect choice for a crucial task at the outset of World War I—to steal a cypher from a famous violinist currently in Wales.

Lukas De Wilde has enjoyed the life of fame he's won—until now, when being recognized nearly gets him killed. Everyone wants the key to his father's work as a cryptologist. And Lukas fears that his mother and sister, who have vanished in the wake of the German invasion of Belgium, will pay the price. The only light he finds is in meeting the intriguing Willa Forsythe.

But danger presses in from every side, and Willa knows what Lukas doesn't—that she must betray him and find that cypher, or her own family will pay the price as surely as his has.

My Thoughts
Book two had all my favorite things about book one and more added in for good measure. I enjoyed the characters in book one, but thought the spy plot struggled a little bit with continuity. This book brings the spying and drama to the next level in a really, really good way. The drama was complex and the build-up to the climax utterly satisfying--and I loved the twist with Lukas and Willa just before the build-up to the final climax.

I enjoyed the Belgian characters and the balance with which White dramatizes the villains and the heroes. Not all the heroes are good. Not all the villains are bad. The character of Gottlieb, a German officer, is especially nuanced, which brings me great joy as a reader. Also, I appreciated that Lukas's sins with flirtation in his past weren't really dwelt on in an uncomfortable way, and his attraction to Willa was less physical in nature (though still there). Lukas's fight to return to self-control and honor made him an endearing character. His friendship with Willa was natural and close, while the clashes added a spice that wasn't unnecessarily antagonistic or jarring.

The Christian faith journey was also super, super well done. I loved how some characters found faith early in the book, but others took longer and fought harder. It was sweet and convincing and coupled with the dramatic storytelling, just the thing I'd love to read a second time.

I loved how Willa thinks in music (always having some sort of tune humming through her life to guide her) and Lukas's sister Margot thinks in numbers, even praying in them sometimes. It was such a vivid, unique way to show how their minds worked in different genius talents, and it enriched the story so much.

I also really loved the scenes where Barclay was interacting with Willa in his kindness, leadership, goodnatured friendship, and teasing. I can't wait for book three to showcase Barclay more. (In fact, you can sign up for Roseanna's newsletter to see the cover of book 3 release soon.) His, Willa's, and Rosemary's commitment to family--even a family of pickpockets--is endearing, and the way you see their family grow in this story is nothing less than satisfying.

A Song Unknown is full of heart, ticking time bombs, love, spying, music, math, and a fight to hold on in the midst of war. I can't wait to read it again.

I received this book from the publisher. All opinions expressed are my own.

PS. Stay tuned for thoughts on a heart-warming superhero squirrel story coming up later! 

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