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Music and magic have long gone hand in hand. From the siren songs of The Odyssey to the flute that Harry Potter uses to play a three-headed dog to sleep, those who harness music so often harness magic as well. S. Jae-Jones’ stunning debut, Wintersong, about a young composer and her descent into the Goblin underworld, is just the latest exploration of the ways in which music can be weaponized. Here, find more titles where music is a powerful force—for good and for evil.
All Our Pretty Songs. By Sarah McCarry. 2013. St. Martin’s/Griffin, $19.99 (9781250040886). Gr. 9–12.
An enigmatic, nameless narrator and her best friend, Aurora, have known each other since birth. But when talented guitarist Jack comes into their lives, their differences come to a head, as Jack’s music not only inspires the narrator but awakens something old and dark in the world.
Devil and the Bluebird. By Jennifer Mason-Black. 2016. Abrams/Amulet, $17.95 (9781419720000). Gr. 8–12.
When Blue’s older sister, Cass, runs away, Blue takes a guitar to the crossroads and makes a deal with the devil, who takes her voice and gives her six months to find Cass before their souls are forfeit. Blue’s ensuing journey across a southern-gothic backdrop leads to encounters with a wide array of people, and even though she’s voiceless, music still holds sway.
Dotwav. By Mike A. Lancaster. 2016. Skyhorse/Sky Pony, $17.99 (9781510704046). Gr. 9–12.
Ani Lee, 15, is a proficient hacker. Joe Dyson, 17, is a chip-enhanced undercover operative for Britain’s classified, crime-fighting youth initiative. The two are brought together by a malicious new musical movement called X-Core. Its jarring audio frequencies might have insidious motivations: alien life, government conspiracy, and a languid empire of mind-controlled teens.
RoseBlood. By A. G. Howard. Jan. 2017. Abrams/Amulet, $18.95 (9781419719097). Gr. 8–11.
Rune Germain has an otherworldly soprano, but debilitating illness strikes every time she’s compelled to sing. At RoseBlood, a French conservatory and the rumored inspiration for The Phantom of the Opera, she encounters Thorn, adopted son of the infamous Phantom himself. The Phantom wants Rune for a sinister purpose, and Thorn’s loyalties are torn as his connection with Rune deepens.
A Song for Ella Grey. By David Almond. 2015. Delacorte, $16.99 (9780553533590). Gr. 9–12.
This heady, musically written retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story, set in Northern England, highlights narrator Claire’s closeness with her best friend, Ella, until ragtag musician Orpheus appears. His music attracts Ella, and Claire witnesses her friend’s meteoric romance, her untimely death, and Orpheus’ devastating failure to retrieve her.
A Song to Take the World Apart. By Zan Romanoff. 2016. Knopf, $17.99 (9781101938799). Gr. 9–12.
High-school sophomore Lorelai has been told all her life not to sing, but when she falls for guitar-playing Chris, music becomes a part of her life. Gradually, Lorelai begins to realize the true power of her voice as well as the eerie abilities she possesses. But she was warned against singing for a reason, and as she becomes more reckless with her voice, the consequences deepen.
This Savage Song. By Victoria Schwab. 2016. Greenwillow, $17.99 (9780062380852). Gr. 9–12.
In a not-so-distant future, Kate Harker lives in the monster-overrun city of Verity. There are three kinds of monsters, the rarest of which is the human-passing Sunai. Enter Sunai August, who steals the souls of sinners through music. There are definitive sides in Verity, and August and Kate are on opposite ones until chance throws them together and sends them down a startling path.
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