Book Review: Runaway Lyrics

Title: Runaway Lyrics

Series: None [Released as part of the Arista’s Frosted Roses collection]

Author: C.O. Bonham

Year: 2021

Synopsis: What one sister has, she must share with the other . . .

Snow loves music. She has spent her entire life learning, new instruments and memorizing new pieces, only to while away her life in a country manor with only her mother and twin sister as company. If only she could get out on her own and play in front of a real audience.

Rose loves magic. The things she can do with music would amaze her twin sister, but whenever she shows her, Snow quickly forgets as if the event had never happened. If only Rose could get out on her own and work some real magic.

When an airship crashes near their home Snow’s magical abilities awaken. Together the sisters must learn to use their magic, rescue a pair of cursed princes, and discover their own secrets.

Discover the magic of music in this retelling of Snow White and Rose Red.

Review: I don’t know that I’ve read anything by this author before, but she’s definitely one I want to keep my eye on! In the spirit of a wholly honest review, I have to say I read this book in one sitting. I love the fact that it’s is a Snow White and Rose Red retelling — since the world DEFINITELY needs more of those. And this is a retelling that needs to be on your TBR!

Twin sisters, Snow and Rose, are super close siblings, but they really don’t see eye-to-eye on much. Both love music, but for different reasons. Snow appreciates the structure and memorization that goes into a song (and she struggles playing by ear), but Rose thrives on the improvisation and magic in her music. However, anytime that magic appears before Snow, she acts as though she can never remember it happened, and Rose has given up trying to make her remember.

Everything gets flipped upside-down when an airship crashes near their home and two strangers come to their door in need of help. Snow’s memory begins to return, and the resulting adventure is one wild ride.

And who are those two strangers? Stepbrothers, Wickham and Bayare, are princes who have just escaped from a dangerous situation at home — but not before Bayare was transformed into a bear. Wickham, ever helpful, tries to reverse the spell on his own, and succeeds in returning Bayare to human form during the day, but also in turning himself into an owl at night.

I loved how different each of the four main characters were. Yes, it is a sister story with Snow and Rose, but Bayare and Wickham, for me, took the cake. XD Wickham, especially, was so much fun. I love that we got more animal transformations other than the original bear, and he made such a great owl. Owls are probably my new favorite fictional characters, and Wickham was the best. He began the story as pretty naive, but I enjoyed getting to see him “grow up” in a way and understand the world and people at a greater depth. Bayare is just the sort of fictional, fantasy prince that you want to root for; he has such a great heart.

I can’t write a review of this book without mentioning something about the sisters. Sibling relationships are big for me, and this one wasn’t a disappointment. There are several differences between the two girls, things that keep them estranged. However, Rose and Snow both develop a better understanding and trust for the other twin, and that was really cool to watch happen. Twins are sometimes difficult to write, as they have a tendency to become indecipherable from each other. I was so afraid Snow and Rose would do that as the book progressed, but they thankfully grew together without becoming mirror copies of each other. They each retained their individuality by the end of the story.

The steampunk side of the story was so great! Steampunk really is becoming a genre that deserves this kind of love, and it was so much fun to read in this book. Automatons are everywhere, as well as other classic steampunk vibes, but everything mixes so well with the magic systems that it’s sometimes difficult to see where ends and the other begins. I just loved the extra-ness it all lent to the story. Steampunk for the win!

The Snow White and Rose Red elements from the original fairytale were great, too. Only a few things are altered or cut out, but the many things the author left in really worked for the story! The scenes with the dwarf were great — although, I didn’t see the connections with the dwarf until later.

I’ll be honest — I didn’t care for the mother very much. She suffered from a bit of Disney-poor-parent syndrome, or a parent with good intentions but not so great execution/actions. [SPOILER ALERT] Instead of trying to make the best out the girls’ birth father and their illegal, magical abilities, she merely never told them the truth and hid Snow’s memories of magic to keep the girls safe. I felt like she could have had a better reason for doing what she did, or perhaps have trusted her daughters with more since they were older? Maybe it was just me, but I found it annoying.

My biggest complaint is probably the lack of polish on the story. While the characters and plot really shone, I wish the final draft could have gone through perhaps a few more bits of editing before published. The narrative was super heavy on telling rather than showing, and the punctuation and grammar were sometimes off. And that’s the real reason I’m taking a star off my rating. Overall, probably not a huge issue, but mistakes like that wake a reader up from the dream. It’s just distracting.

Advisory: Some fantasy violence. Nothing too terribly scary, though, IMHO.

And magic. I think the magic system in this book is super unique. The steampunk elements meld nicely with the magical elements, and I really loved that the two worked together, rather than warred with each other. There’s your typical wizard and other fantasy magic, but the twins’ magic is comprised of their music. There are a few scenes in which a spell is cast, sometimes through the general magic, sometimes through the power in music. Additionally, characters are mentioned learning magic, studying for exams on magic. It didn’t bother me as this is clearly a fantasy world, and the spells aren’t something one can repeat outside of the book.

This isn’t necessarily an advisory point, but it coincides with the magic bit above, so I’m putting it here. But this is important. I read a few reviews of this book in which the readers complained about the presence of magic (i.e. they didn’t realize there was magic in the book, and then stopped reading because of it) — and I found that really odd. The magic was a big part of the story, and the actual summary/back blurb for the book states that there is magic. I’m confused — why would you expect a magic-free book when the summary states there is magic? So, be warned: There is magic in this book. If you’re looking for a non-magical adventure, this book isn’t it. But, if you give the magic a chance, there’s a whole lot more to love about this book.

Light romance with a few kisses, but the relationships are built slowly and genuinely. I really liked both couples, and how they helped bring out the best in their respective partners. There are a few mentions of women “sleeping around/being unfaithful” and thus getting pregnant, but not anything super descriptive.

Also, a scene with girls in their “underwear.” When a situation presents itself where the twins need to match each other, the only matching clothing they have with them is their underwear. But, given the descriptions (or the lack, thereof) and the supposed steampunk time era, the underwear really isn’t immodest, and nothing more is said on the matter.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

*Please note that I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review, and that this review is VERY much overdue! Sorry!*


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