In the first installment of this fantasy adventure series, we meet Irenya. A struggling new mother who is run-down and battling mental illness as well as the pressures of new motherhood. On a simple late-night grocery run in suburban Melbourne, she finds herself trapped in another world called Dar Orien and can’t get home to her family. Irenya finds out that there is much more to her family and herself than she ever dreamed possible.
What Michael portrays masterfully in this novel is the complex human emotions that the main protagonist goes through when separated from her family and her desperation to get home to her little boy. In many adventure novels, the protagonist will adapt to their new world with rapid speed, a concept that always confused me. Irenya goes through many stages of denial, grief, anger, and finally a begrudging acceptance that she is in fact, in an alternate dimension. The inhabitants of her new world are also slow to trust Irenya at first and the trust is hard won on both sides, if shaky at times. To me, it made the characters more relatable and compelling and I enjoyed the tension as part of the storyline.
The real question that everyone asks including Irenya, is why? Why this world and why now?
Throughout Irenya’s journey in her new world, she is forced to confront and use many abilities and talents that she was unaware of or avoided due to her anxiety and lack of self-esteem. Many readers will resonate with the feeling of watering down or diluting parts of themselves that would make them appear less ‘normal’ to be accepted. We see Irenya learning about herself and her unique abilities as well as learning about her new world at the same time.
Michael’s excellent world-building is extremely enjoyable and her characters are realistic, complex, and intriguing. I really enjoyed the first installment of the Birdsong trilogy and am now invested in Irenya’s forthcoming journey in the subsequent installments.
Great read and loved that it was a little longer than a lot of books I have read recently!
If you want to check out Songbird by Judith Michael you can do so here
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