A Mortal Song by Megan Crewe
The premise behind A Mortal Song is amazing and makes it worth the read. Sora is a mortal girl who has been switched at birth with a kami (magical/goddess) child princess. This isn’t to protect Sora but the kami princess, who’s destined to save the kami at Mount Fuji with her amazing god powers. The story is told from the POV of Sora, the girl who grew up thinking she was a princess and is now getting replaced by a human girl. The worst part is that Sora has to train her replacement in the ways of magic before a horde of demons overruns the mountain and kills her adopted family, whom she loves even though they’ve lied to her her entire life.
The premise is a heartbreaker, but the characters (especially Sora) never really gelled for me. Sora is a strange character for me. She had a lot of concrete details in her backstory, and I understood her motivation the entire time, but there was always something ‘thin’ about her. It was like she never thought about anything besides the plot. This story never forgets The Plot, so maybe that’s what actually caused me to feel uninterested in the characters. There were a lot of moments where it just felt like it was ‘going through the motions’. In fact, this reminds me a bit of how I felt about Heroine Complex, which was a story with a kickass concept that never really went beyond the conceptual idea for me. (I will say I thought the two main characters in Heroine Complex were more well-developed than the main characters in A Mortal Song. The world building of Heroine Complex ultimately grated on me more while A Mortal Song had elegant elements in how it built its world.) I would have preferred the story be a bit more twisty–maybe dare I say it…more of a hot mess–to breathe some life into it. The sections in Tokyo did drag, and for being at the center of the story, Sora often didn’t feel like a main character. Everyone else in this story seemed to sideline her, which is part of her story as being the human child, but it made for a less interesting read than the ‘kid with secret powers’ story. Maybe I’m too fixated on that narrative, but I like my main character to feel like the freaking main character. A Mortal Song sometimes didn’t feel like Sora’s story.
I’m not the type of reader to point out or loathe ‘love triangles’. I tend to accept them as part of the story, but I really hated how forced the love stories were in A Mortal Song. I didn’t feel much for either Takeo or Keiji, and the story always wanted to make these relationships more important. Maybe it’s that I really wasn’t feeling Sora as a character, which was why I didn’t quite get attached to either of her romantic interests. I’m going to contrast this to Uprooted, where I was ridiculously attached to the main character’s relationship; that come organically because I got the main character. If A Mortal Song could’ve made me care more about Sora, the rest of the story would’ve interested me more. Overall, this is a great YA fantasy piece, and if you like world-building and Asian mythology, this book could be a winner for you.
Rating: 3 stars. Solid idea, but liked-not-loved the characters. Sora seemed really rigid for a first person POV character and none of the other characters ‘stepped up’ to become more interesting.