Sylvie and the Songman

Sylvie and the Songman - Tim Binding As a musician I fully expected to love this book. While I did enjoy it, I also spent a fair amount of time being confused or even bored.

Sylvie: Sylvie was an okay character. She's kind, stubborn and brave. But she's also mulish, selfish and hotheaded. She dragged her friend George into her adventure, and while I was grateful to have George along, he didn't gave much of a choice in the matter. During the period in the book when she was listening to her song, I hated her for her selfishness.

George: George is a unique character. He's chubby and out of shape. Most characters with this kind of appearance end up either being child geniuses, or selfish, greedy brats, but George only has a talent with kites and a strong potential for kindness. He was Sylvie's friend throughout the entire book, and, even if he didn't have much of a choice in the matter, he did choose to come with Sylvie, and he chose not to complain too much about it, and to do everything he could to help Sylvie, not just so that he could go back home, but also because he cared about her. During the times I was hating Sylvie, George kept me reading.

Mr. Jackson: What can I say about Mr. Jackson that isn't obvious. He's a dog, a sweetheart, a loyal friend. I loved him even more than I loved George. It was worth reading this book just for sweet little Mr. Jackson. All this made his death infinitely more painful :'(

Sylvie's father was not in the story very much, but he was interesting. I like his sense of adventure, and I really liked his musical instrument creations. It was nice to have a classical musician for a character.

The Songman: The Songman was not a very interesting villain. He wanted his music to be heard all over the world, but he didn't want to do the work of trying to get it heard without hurting people. He had a soft spot for Sylvie, but was still more than willing to hurt her and those she cared about in order to get what he wanted. His identity wasn't much of a surprise.

The Woodpecker man was a weird character. He was the crony who carried out the main-villains desires. He was much more interesting then The Songman, but I don't remember him really having any actual motivations. He had a lot of potential, with his magic coming from music (the triangle can make music through rhythm, even if it is an unpitched instrument,) but without motivation, what was the point of having a unique villain, instead of a paper cutout like Crabbe or Goyle?

Sylvie's mother: Okay, I'm confused, was Sylvie's mother a selkie? Do selkies get sick if they stay on land too long? What was the purpose of having Sylvie's mother be alive, but barely in the story, and certainly not in the ending? Or what was the point of Sylvie thinking her mother was dead? If she'd known her mom was alive, but that she couldn't be with them because she'd get sick, wouldn't that have been a more interesting take on this common tale? I don't know if the author was trying to make Sylvie's mother being alive a twist, but I was not at all surprised by that so-called twist.

The story was decent, but if the author had addressed some of the plot-holes, unsurprising twists and character problems, the book could have been amazing.