Reader Reviewed Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

Cuckoo Song

Written by Frances Hardinge

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Shortlisted for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal - May 2014 Book of the Month Frances Hardinge creates a brilliant sense of menace in this chillingly dark fairy story . Something sinister, beyond just getting wet, happens to Triss when she falls into the Grimmer. Something that causes her to change in all kinds of ways which her parents don't recognise. Triss can feel the changes - she is always hungry, her hair is full of leaves, her tears are like cobwebs and her sister is terrified of her - but she cannot understand why they are happening. Somehow, Triss has been taken over. She is now a changeling and she needs to search through the underworld of the city itself to find the truth. ~ Julia Eccleshare

Reader Reviews

Teens love to read and so in addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Lovereading4kids Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

  • Aimee Sweet, age 13 - 'I love this book so much I tried to savour it like I do with sweets! The story is so vivid and intense that I feel as if Hardinge is painting pictures in my mind.' Read full review >
  • Lola Bridgeman, age 17 - 'A spooky, scary, mysterious tale, I really enjoyed this!' Read full review >
  • Izzy Read, age 13 - 'Overall, it was a fantastic book and I highly recommend it to all history lovers as well as fantasy and mystery lovers and I hope everyone will love it.' Read full review >
  • Khadijah, age 18 - 'This is one of the best fairytales I have ever read.It's dark, strange and atmospheric. The prose is wonderfully imaginative and fresh. Frances Hardinge has a unique voice which is original and exciting.' Read full review >
  • Maddy Faulkner, age 12 - 'A compelling, dark tale of a young girl possessed. She see's and hear's things such as dolls screaming and she cries cobwebs. This story is strange and terrible and makes you want to carry on reading.' Read full review >
  • Ciara McIlvenna, age 17 - 'A haunting yet gripping tale executed beautiful. A stunning piece of prose that will keep you up all night desperate to turn that last page.' Read full review >
  • Rose Heathcote, age 14 - 'This is the best book I have ever read. I was hooked from the beginning, the storyline is amazing, it's dark and mysterious and impossible to put down.' Read full review >
  • Carla McGuigan, age 14 - 'This was a brilliant read and I recommend it to people who love creepy novels.' Read full review >
  • Sophia Ufton - 'Gripping story, keeps you hooked from the very first page and stays with you long after you have finished reading.' Read full review >
  • Michael Keaveny, age 13 - 'A very dark and twisted fairy tale. Do not read if dolls give you the creeps....the dolls move to look at Triss as if they have come to life.  She hides them all away afraid of what is happening to her.' Read full review >
  • Jodi Coffman, age 12 - 'I really enjoyed this book.  In the quest to discover what is wrong with her you join Triss on an exciting and sometimes frightening but powerful journey.  It is an original but captivating story.' Read full review >
  • Millie Windeler, age 15 - 'Cuckoo Song is a sweet book full of astounding imagery.' Read full review >
  • Belinda Brooke - 'This beautifully written, dark and complicated tale will appeal to anyone who revels in the strange and the mysterious.' Read full review >


Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge

The first things to shift were the doll's eyes, the beautiful grey-green glass eyes. Slowly they swivelled, until their gaze was resting on Triss's face. Then the tiny mouth moved, opened to speak. 'What are you doing here?' It was uttered in tones of outrage and surprise, and in a voice as cold and musical as the clinking of cups. 'Who do you think you are? This is my family.'

When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out. Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself.

In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family - before it's too late ...


'Everyone should read Frances Hardinge. Everyone. Right now.'

'm completely entranced by the world that Hardinge created. . . The writing- oh my goodness, the writing is superb. There are deeper themes than just that of a girl trying to find herself: the effects of war on a societal level as well as personal; the depths of cruelty people can be capable of in the name of vengeance; autonomy; forgiveness; love. I'm not eloquent enough to say how amazing I think this book is and I can't recommend it highly enough! * NetGalley * It's a compulsive read without naked demands for attention; the tension is, for the most part, in uneasiness and anxiety, in a nagging feeling that things aren't right. It's done incredibly well, to my mind. * * The most original mid-fantasy I have read in a long time... a little book bundle of literary magic. * * Hardinge brings sophistication and literariness to children's fiction whilst never skimping on the entertainment and satisfaction quotient. * * I love this book so much I tried to savour it like I do with sweets! * * This melange of the historical and fantastical in Hardinge's gloriously rich metaphor-laden style is unlikely to be to every child's taste-but it's probably too good for them anyway. * NetGalley * This book is a work of art. Every sentence is an elegant, perfectly constructed gem * * A strange tale of fantastical beings, strange occurrences, buried secrets and ultimately, family relationships of all shapes and sizes * * Frances Hardinge, author of the award-winning novels Fly-by-Night, Twilight Robbery and A Face Like Glass, puts an imaginative spin on the well-worn tales of changelings in her new YA novel Cuckoo Song. * * It's magical, menacing stuff * * This multi-layered fantastical novel is one to curl up with and savour. I can't recommend it highly enough. * Guardian * The sense of identity that Frances creates in all of her characters, whether minor or major, makes real, tangible, interesting personalities that are a genuine joy to spend time with. -- Frances Hardinge Interview with Holdfast * * 'All was perhaps. Nothing was certain. And that, that was wonderful.'

's closing words because there is a wonderfulness about them, an intrinsic quality to those words that at once show the excellence of the book at a sentence level and also perfectly encapsulate the thematic core of the novel: its heart and soul, if you will... a supremely well-written novel * * Cuckoo Song is a deeply moving, multi layered book about finding oneself, where magic and the aftermath of World War I walk hand in hand. * * An irresistible novel, which I absolutely adored. Not many authors can conjure such an utterly brilliant modern fairytale. * * With its creepy undertones, authentic backdrop and arresting storyline, Cuckoo Song is the ideal book to get teenagers reading ... and thinking. * * Cuckoo Song was a wonderful, sad and chilling book that I couldn't put down. * * Strange, creepy and wonderfully written . . . a magical read that's about as unique as you can get! * * A beautifully-written and captivating novel. -- Katherine Woodfine * *'

About the Author

Frances Hardinge

Frances Hardinge spent a large part of her childhood in a huge old house that inspired her to write strange stories from an early age. She read English at Oxford University, then got a job at a software company. However, a few years later a persistent friend finally managed to bully Frances into sending a few chapters of Fly By Night, her first children's novel, to a publisher. Macmillan made her an immediate offer. The book went on to publish to huge critical acclaim and win the Branford Boase First Novel Award. She has since written many highly acclaimed children's novels including, Fly By Night's sequel, Twilight Robbery, as well as the Carnegie shortlisted Cuckoo Song and the Costa Book of the Year winner, The Lie Tree.

Author photo © David Levenson

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Book Info


416 pages


Frances Hardinge
More books by Frances Hardinge

Author's Website



Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan

Publication date

8th May 2014




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