First US review:
(Booklist is a source of "book reviews for librarians, book groups, and book lovers—from the trusted experts at the American Library Association")
Song of the Slums.
Harland, Richard (Author)
Dec 2014. 378 p. IPG/Allen & Unwin, paperback, $11.99. (9781743310052).
Set in an alternative nineteenth-century England, Harland’s lively novel finds 17-year-old Astor Vance thinking she has been engaged to a scion of the fabulously wealthy Swale family. Imagine her horror when she learns that, instead, she has been pressed into service as a governess to the odious Swale children. Discovering a dangerous family secret, Astor must then flee for her life, accompanied by her manservant, the mysterious Verrol. To survive, the two join a Slumtown street gang and, using their musical talents, become a member of the group’s band, the Rowdies, whose music smacks suspiciously of rock and roll! Improbably, the group becomes a sensation, its fame attracting the Swale brothers, who propose a partnership that will profit both them and the band. It sounds plausible, but Astor is suspicious and wonders if the plutocrats have a deeper, more nefarious purpose in mind. What might it be, and how will the troubled relationship between Astor and Verrol play out? Though riddled with improbabilities,
Australian author Harland’s gaslight romance remains engaging and will hold readers’ attention to its suspenseful end.
— Michael Cart
A nice review in Melbourne's Herald Sun, Saturday, July 27th
KIDS BOOK REVIEW
A review that came out a month ago - and I've only just caught up with it! This one's by Susan Whelan in the Kids Book Review -
Review: Song of the Slums
You've heard of the Roaring Twenties and the Swinging Sixties, but what about the Rockin’ Forties? The 1840s that is. In Richard Harland’s novel Song of the Slums, Victorian England is introduced to, and shaken by, the world of rock 'n' roll.
Meet Astor Vance. Astor is seventeen and her step-father has just arranged her marriage to the handsome, but mysterious and aloof Lorrain Swale. Or has he? The reality of her situation strikes when, to her horror, Astor finds herself confronted by new responsibilities in the form of three rude and unruly children.
The world is changing dramatically, and so is Astor’s life. She is determined to cope, finding refuge in her music, but what Astor really needs is someone who can help her make sense of what's going on.
Enter Verrol. He's worldly and has attitude, and opens Astor's eyes to a world she has been mostly protected from. And Astor is sure there's something he's hiding.
Forced to seek shelter with the street gangs of Brummingham's Slumtown, Astor and Verrol are caught up in the rise from obscurity of the Rowdies, the next big thing on the local music scene.
Prepare yourself for a city shrouded in the smog and liquid sludge of industry, steam-powered airships, and political machinations. This is an action-packed story full of surprises, which explores big questions about courage, integrity, compromise, loyalty, love, ambition and knowing what you want.
Steampunk with style. Song of the Slums is a great introduction to the genre for anyone who is yet to try it, and for those looking for a story with rhythm and heart.
Here's a review in the Weekend West, the weekend magazine part of Perth paper, the West Australian.
Nice! And another very positive review by Miffy Farquharson from Viewpoint magazine (one of the 3 major Australian review journals for YA fiction), which includes an excellent overall synopsis as well as words of praise!