Cuckoos are interesting birds. Several species of cuckoo engage in brood parasitism, meaning they drop their eggs in other birds’ nests so those other birds will raise their young for them. Does the title of Cuckoo Song seem a trifle more disturbing now? Good. The mood is set.
This book is strange and wonderful and creepy and delightful. It makes me wish I had a time machine so I could send a copy back to the ‘80s for ten-year-old me. While it’s meant for a Middle Grade audience, it’s got plenty of appeal for older readers. Early 1920’s England comes alive in the vivid prose. It might be premature to crown Frances Hardinge the Queen of Metaphor after reading one book, but I’d say she’s definitely in the running.
But this isn’t just a good, creepy, dark fairy tale. It’s a good, creepy, dark fairy tale with substance. It deals with issues of family love, loss, identity, and acceptance in kind of amazing ways. My hat’s off to Hardinge. This was a delicious book that I wanted to devour but just had to savor.