Check out the book trailer!Lucy races against time and magic in this sequel to the “richly and thoughtfully written” (Publishers Weekly) Chantress.
Lucy is the last Chantress, the only remaining girl who can sing magic into the world. Since she defeated the evil Lord Scargrave, England has changed—and not for the better. With crops failing and the people rebelling, Lucy is called urgently back to King Henry’s court. His Inner Council is convinced that making gold through alchemy will save England. But a critical element to the alchemical process has been stolen. Lucy is tasked with finding it with her magic…or else. And until she succeeds, the castle is on lockdown.
Court too has changed. Scargrave’s brutal Chantress Hunter has become King Henry’s closest advisor. Lucy’s beloved Nat has fallen out of favor and is shunned by his colleagues. Worst of all, Lucy’s magic has deserted her. She can no longer hear the song spells at court, and must find a way to access her powers soon—or be accused of treason.
Amy Butler Greenfield returns to the volatile world of Chantress for an exciting tales that weaves together courtly intrigue, mystery, romance, magic, and music.
Now on to the post!
How does Chantress magic work? It was my job to figure this out, and it was an exciting – and sometimes exasperating – business.
What made it exciting? In a word: freedom. The sky’s the limit with magic. You’re not bound by reality, so you can go wherever your imagination takes you.
In the Chantress books, magic is worked through singing, and only certain women can do it. But just as there’s more than one way for artists to make art, there’s more than one way for Chantresses to sing. They can use Proven Magic, which consists of a canon of songs taught in secret by one generation to the next. (Think of them as songs that you memorize by rote – no free interpretation allowed.) But if a Chantress is willing to live dangerously, she can open herself up to Wild Magic, the songs that exist in all things, and improvise her own songs from that. (Think of this as a kind of free-form jazz.)
Here is a taste of what it feels like to work Wild Magic, as told by Lucy in Chantress:
The songs came for me—hundreds of them, humming like bees, flickering like firelight, crossing like shadows. And the strongest one was the wild tune I’d heard in the garden. This time, however, it went on and on. It spoke of the sea and of home and of times long past. It tugged at my heart and my throat and my lips. Sing me, it said.
And I did.
I had no idea what the words were, or what phrase came next. But I did not care. A dizzying sense of freedom flooded over me. All I wanted to do was give voice to the notes that came to me, one after another, in an endless stream of sound. We climbed together, strong and sure, rising ever higher. I felt as if I were flying.
As Lucy discovers, Wild Magic is much more powerful than Proven Magic. The only problem? It could kill her.
That was the framework for Chantress magic, and I had a great time playing with it. It let me explore the idea of power, especially female power and the power of art and music. But if working with magic gave me a lot of freedom, there was one big caveat: Once you set the rules, you can’t change them just to suit your story. (That’s the exasperating bit!)
In Chantress Alchemy, I had to find a way to develop the magic while not breaking with anything I’d set up in Chantress. Occasionally that pushed me to my limits, but mostly in a good way. There were plenty of Chantress mysteries still to write about, plenty of past secrets and scandals – and because Lucy’s enemies know more about them than she does, she soon find herself in great danger. But secrets can work both ways, and Lucy might have more power than she imagines, if only she can find it in time.
Will there be more secrets revealed in Book Three? It’s still in draft right now, but the short answer is: You bet!
Amy Butler Greenfield was on her way to a history Ph.D. when she gave into temptation and became a writer. Among other honors, her books have won a PEN/Albrand Award, the Veolia Prix du Livre Environnement, and a Beacon of Freedom Award.
Amy grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State and went to Williams College and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a Marshall Scholar at Oxford, she studied Renaissance Europe, imperial Spain, and colonial Latin America. She now lives with her family on the edge of the Cotswolds in England, where she writes, reads, and bakes double-dark-chocolate cake.
She loves music, romantic adventure, history, quirky science, and suspense, which explains how she came to write her first YA novel, Chantress. Her next book, Chantress Alchemy, will be published in May 2014.
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