Updated: Dec 16, 2020
“If she stayed here, she would never be allowed to fly again. Ever. And that was unacceptable.”
- J.M. Frey, The Skylark’s Song
A war-torn country. A cruel system of discrimination. A fight between what should and what is done. The constant questioning of where loyalties lie. J.M Frey has exposed the raw truth about war through the eyes of Robin Arianhod, a seventeen-year-old mid-flight training to become a pilot. War is where neither side is without fault, and both sides continue their relentless battle to simply not lose. With the realistic struggles of a broken girl growing up in war, the punishing expectations of society, and the incredible steampunk world of the Saskwya and Klonn, The Skylark’s Song builds a sophisticated, paced story where questions are never fully answered, and the truth is hidden under stony deceit.
Robin was born to fly. At least that was what the Wise Woman predicted at her birth. Before the war that is. As a mid-flight, a mechanic-like position who assists the pilot during flight, and as a Sealie, the lower class of Saskwya, she has little to no chance of ever reaching the skies for herself as a pilot. There also lies before her the expectation that she should abandon her dreams and settle down to spend the rest of her days as a docile housewife, but Robin would rather risk her life, fighting in the skies. Her life changes when she gains the title as the only person to survive a fight with the Coyote, the Klonn’s fiercest fighter pilot who has been the cause of multiple casualties and the deaths of pilots and mid-flights she once knew. Suddenly, she has been promoted to pilot (a decision not without its problems) and is flying her own glider.
It’s not until Robin is taken captive by the Coyote that she finds herself questioning the reason for the war plaguing her home, the deaths of those in the air, and the suffering of her people. She finds that the fearsome Coyote is not exactly what she had been told: he was not unnecessarily cruel nor a crazy killer. While technically a prisoner, Robin certainly didn’t expect receiving lavish meals, fancy dresses and jewelry, and access to an ornate room. As far as prisons came, the situation could have been much worse, but it still caged her free spirits. She needed to leave, but something held her back. She finds that the Coyote is also a captive within his own nation who wants the same thing that she always has: to end the war once and for all. She finds a companion, a confidant, and a friend. But is finding someone she cares for worth being a traitor to her nation, her family, and her people?
The Skylark’s Song is certainly an enjoyable read, one that springs my interest in reading the successor in this duology soon. Robin is a complex, layered character with realistic flaws which just makes her character so much more relatable. She makes mistakes. She messes up. She gets angry, but she’s human. The plot was engrossing and well-developed, only constrained by the odd pacing in the scenes. While the numerous moments of high dystopian action were enjoyable to read, they dragged themselves out too thin, almost as if in slow motion. On the other hand, the “filler” sections of the plot felt rushed and underdeveloped which, for me, prevented further growth in the relationship between Robin and the Coyote during her captivity.
Overall, The Skylark’s Song was a brisk, entertaining read with all the elements of a basic dystopian novel turned on its head. With both predictable and unexpected moments, the novel certainly does not disappoint. What it lacks in cohesion, it makes up for through Frey’s refined writing style and intricate plot lines. Robin tells her story on every page in an engaging tale of loyalty, luck, and freedom that will leave readers savoring for more.
A Saskwyan flight mechanic with uncanny luck, seventeen-year-old Robin Arianhod grew up in the shadow of a decade-long war. But the skies are stalked by the Coyote—a ruthless Klonn pilot who picks off crippled airships and retreating soldiers. And as the only person to have survived an aerial dance with Saskwya’s greatest scourge, Robin has earned his attention. As a Pilot, Robin is good. But the Coyote is better. When he shoots her down and takes her prisoner, Robin finds herself locked into a new kind of dance. The possibility of genuine affection from a man who should be her enemy has left her with a choice: accept the Coyote’s offer of freedom and romance in exchange for repairing a strange rocket pack that could spell Saskwya’s defeat, but become a traitor to her county. Or betray her own heart and escape. If she takes the rocket pack and flees, she could end the war from the inside.
Filled with intrigue, forbidden romance, and a touch of steampunk, The Skylark’s Song soars in this new duology from the award-winning author of The Accidental Turn Series.
THE SKYLARK'S SONG is Available for Purchase Now.