Monday, August 15, 2016

Title: The Architect of Song
Author: A.G. Howard
Series: Haunted Hearts Legacy, book #1
Publisher: Golden Orb Press
Publication Date: August 15, 2016
Source: ARC received from author
Purchase: Amazon

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A lady imprisoned by deafness, an architect imprisoned by his past, and a ghost imprisoned within the petals of a flower - intertwine in this love story that transcends life and death.

For most of her life, nineteen-year-old Juliet Emerline has subsisted – isolated by deafness – making hats in the solitude of her home. Now, she’s at risk to lose her sanctuary to Lord Nicolas Thornton, a twenty-seven-year-old mysterious and eccentric architect with designs on her humble estate. When she secretly witnesses him raging beside a grave, Juliet investigates, finding the name “Hawk” on the headstone and an unusual flower at the base. The moment Juliet touches the petals, a young English nobleman appears in ghostly form, singing a song only her deaf ears can hear. The ghost remembers nothing of his identity or death, other than the one name that haunts his afterlife: Thornton.

To avenge her ghostly companion and save her estate, Juliet pushes aside her fear of society and travels to Lord Thornton’s secluded holiday resort, posing as a hat maker in one of his boutiques. There, she finds herself questioning who to trust: the architect of flesh and bones who can relate to her through romantic gestures, heartfelt notes, and sensual touches … or the specter who serenades her with beautiful songs and ardent words, touching her mind and soul like no other man ever can. As sinister truths behind Lord Thornton’s interest in her estate and his tie to Hawk come to light, Juliet is lured into a web of secrets. But it’s too late for escape, and the tragic love taking seed in her heart will alter her silent world forever.

International and NYT bestselling author, A.G. Howard, brings her darkly magical and visual/visceral storytelling to Victorian England. The Architect of Song is the first installment in her lush and romantic Haunted Hearts Legacy series, a four book gothic saga following the generations of one family as - haunted by both literal and figurative ghosts - they search for self-acceptance, love, and happiness.

New Adult: Recommended for ages 16+.

I was offered a review copy of The Architect of Song and being a hard-core fan of A.G. Howard's Splintered series, I couldn't say yes fast enough. This is her first "new adult" novel and it's historical fiction with ghosts and baronets and an orphaned protagonist and it's very reminiscent of Crimson Peak, which I just recently watched this week, and I'm kind of in love with it.

I finished reading this novel with the biggest sense of satisfaction I've had from completing a novel in awhile. It is most definitely my new favorite novel from A.G. Howard because it feels more like her own writing than even the Splintered series did, and I've enjoyed following the tour and reading why she decided to self-publish this novel.

The Architect of Song wasn't perfect, but it was pretty damn close for my tastes. I adored the ending but I could have used more exposition, namely a conversation between the MC and the Lord of the manor so I could see all of the awkward as they finally, FINALLY came completely clean about everything. I don't like that this reconciliation of sorts happened mostly off the page. But I always want more at the end, especially more time with the characters, so I don't even really know if that can be considered a complaint. But if it is, it's really my only one.

I loved how Juliet's affliction was handled. Because in the time period this story was based, she would have been abhorred for her lack of hearing, and yet the author found a way to make her deafness a strength...and for Juliet to keep the fact of her deafness a relative secret. I felt that this ailment was presented in a manner that was accurate for the time period, even if that level of lip reading is a bit implausible.

At the heart of this story is grief and loss and yes, love. I expected this novel to be like all of the "new adult" novels that have come before it, but it's mostly just sensual in nature. But I still found it hot and very swoony. Being historical fiction, too, meant that the protagonist's virtue and reputation were at stake, and I liked how that aspect was handled, as well, especially as there was a love triangle involved. (I'm kind of gaga for Howard's love triangles.) I can see why publishers might have had a hard time classifying this novel. The age of the heroine leans more heavily toward new adult, but the romance is not overtly sexual, as most new adult novels are. And it's not strictly a romance either because there is a serious mystery to be solved and a ghost not at rest and gender roles to preserve and well, just loads more than a simple romance.

I loved the romantic aspects but I might have loved the mystery of the ghost more. There were so many things playing into it: that strange flower, Lord Thornton, the gypsy woman. I had heaps of theories and couldn't wait for the identity of Hawk to come to light. The way it all unraveled was just perfect...and not just because that had been my initial theory. ;0) Howard really knows how to keep you guessing while also using the most gorgeous prose to get you the answers you seek.

Here's the thing I don't get, though: this story very much gave me Rosamund Hodge vibes. It was dark and mysterious and clever, and I loved it every bit as much as I love Hodge's novels. It's very similar in tone and writing style, which leaves me wondering why this story was so hard for publishers to classify when that doesn't appear to be the case for Hodge's books. I understand that the publishing industry is a fickle one, but it's enough to make an author give up entirely. But I'm so glad this author decided to self-publish so that legions of her fans will still get a chance to read it. I don't care if it's hard to classify; this is the type of story I most love to read: convoluted and twisty and not falling into any one niche.

I really did love this one:


GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

A.G. Howard is the International and NYT bestselling author of the Splintered Series, with a slew of other classical spinoffs and original stories in the works that she hopes will one day find a place on the shelves.

She was inspired to write her tribute to Carroll's Wonderland while working at a school library. Her pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

SPLINTERED, UNHINGED, ENSNARED, and UNTAMED, the first four books in her urbanized /gothic Alice in Wonderland series, are now available from Amulet Books. Also soon to be available from Amulet is her Phantom of the Opera spinoff, ROSEBLOOD -- slated to launch January 2017.

THE ARCHITECT OF SONG, the first book in her New Adult historical literary romance saga, will be available in August 2016.

Find Anita:

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  1. I've had this one on my wishlist since I first read the blurb. Glad to hear that it's going to be a great read! Can't wait!

    1. It was an immediate TBR add for me, too. :) If historical fiction is your thing, I definitely recommend it.

  2. Loved the review! Especially the gif you used. Hahaha. Will surely check A.G Howard's new book.

    1. Haha, thanks...I just found so many parallels to Crimson Peak, though that might have been because I had JUST watched it. Either way, I loved both stories. Hope you do, too!

  3. I had no idea that this was out already! Great review!


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