Review: Dirty Wings

dirty wings

Title: Dirty Wings (All Our Pretty Songs #2)
Author: Sarah McCarry
Genres: urban fantasy, speculative fiction
Pages: 288
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Review Copy: the library
Availability: July 15th, 2014

Summary: A gorgeous retelling of the Persephone myth, Sarah McCarry brings us the story of Cass and Maia–the mothers from All Our Pretty Songs–and how their fates became intertwined.

Maia is a teenage piano prodigy and dutiful daughter, imprisoned in the oppressive silence of her adoptive parents’ house like a princess in an ivory tower. Cass is a street rat, witch, and runaway, scraping by with her wits and her knack for a five-fingered discount. When a chance encounter brings the two girls together, an unlikely friendship blossoms that will soon change the course of both their lives. Cass springs Maia from the jail of the only world she’s ever known, and Maia’s only too happy to make a break for it. But Cass didn’t reckon on Jason, the hypnotic blue-eyed rocker who’d capture Maia’s heart as soon as Cass set her free–and Cass isn’t the only one who’s noticed Maia’s extraordinary gifts. Is Cass strong enough to battle the ancient evil she’s unwittingly awakened–or has she walked into a trap that will destroy everything she cares about? [Image and summary via Goodreads]

Review: After I read this, I wanted to go play piano. That’s what the writing in Dirty Wings will do to you. It’s got a distinctly lyrical style to it that draws you in and keeps you reading until everything’s over. Do not be deceived by the book blurb — Dirty Wings definitely does not proceed in the neat, linear fashion portrayed by the summary. But the writing suits the story — Cass and Maia, two girls who see things that no one else can see and are somehow caught up in an ancient myth.

When Cass ‘frees’ Maia from the cage her adoptive parents have placed her in — the cage of being the good, piano-playing home-schooled daughter — things rapidly go downhill from there. Maia and Cass travel and live together in the most classic form of teenaged rebellion — drinking, drugs, sex, and rock concerts. This, I was not a fan of, simply because those elements are too often used as a shortcut for depicting freedom, rebellion, and living life on the edge. (See: Just about every YA book about edgy white teens ever.) Fortunately, the dash of mythology and the strong thread of friendship running throughout the book made Cass and Maia’s adventures seem genuine, and not just cheaply gritty and edgy.

The unlikely friendship between Cass and Maia is what drives the story. Cass is the street-wise runaway, while Maia is the sheltered, adopted daughter. It was fascinating to see Cass and Maia’s relationship develop as the story switched between the past and the present in flash-forwards. I only wish it could have been expanded upon even more.

Only after I read the book did I realize that this is, effectively, a prequel to All Our Pretty Songs, which is the first book in the series. Now I have to read it to find out what happens. It was a relief to know that Cass and Maia’s stories didn’t just end there. If you like gorgeous lyrical writing, or books with a mythological twist to them, Dirty Wings is a must-read.

Recommendation: Get it soon! Especially if you’re a fan of mythology inspired books and lyrical storytelling.