Review by Patricia de Hemricourt
The Wind Singer is the first book of The Wind on Fire trilogy. It concerns ten-year-old twins Bowman and Kestrel Hath, and their long journey to save their city, Aramanth. The political of Aramanth is defined by Wikipedia as a meritocratic distopy. This means the people of Aramanth are governed by tests and sorted into castes by the results. At odds with the otherwise highly organized geometry of the city, in its center stands a strange structure called the Wind Singer; once it made beautiful music, but ever since the removal of its “voice” (a small, silver S), it only creaks. The rebellious Kestrel and the highly empathic Bowman set out to get it back and restore the true spirit of Aramanth. Rounding out the cast of characters are the twins’ eccentric parents and baby sister, and their outcast classmate Mumpo.
The world of this book is highly original and creative. Underground mud-diggers, a chocolate button-addicted emperor, eternally battling mobile cities, and the terrifying Old Children are just some of the elements that combine to create a bizarre, often humorous, and extremely vivid setting. A mystical element is introduced with the mysterious Morah, a great malevolent entity bent on destroying and killing. This and the Old Children will send shivers up the back of any reader, young and not so young. However, young readers will appreciate how Kestrel and Bowman have more insight than many of the foolish or ignorant adults around them, and will be irresistibly drawn into the fast-paced action. Some questions remain open and will be solved in the following two books of the trilogy, Slaves of the Mastery and Firesong, yet, the book easily stands on its own.
It deserves 5 stars and more, whether for characterization, narration rhythm or wealth of imagination.