"When Triss wakes up after an accident, she knows that something is very wrong. She is insatiably hungry; her sister seems scared of her and her parents whisper behind closed doors. She looks through her diary to try to remember, but the pages have been ripped out.
Soon Triss discovers that what happened to her is more strange and terrible than she could ever have imagined, and that she is quite literally not herself. In a quest find the truth she must travel into the terrifying Underbelly of the city to meet a twisted architect who has dark designs on her family - before it's too late."
This book was a little creepy, as the author herself puts it, but it never gets too scary for the age group it's intended for (that I imagine might be about 9-12 and of course, all the rest of us who are young at heart). Despite all the weird details you learn about Triss, you find yourself being sympathetic to her. She is in a very frightening situation and as she uncovers more and more about the secret of what's happened to her, things go from bad to worse. Fortunately, she manages to find a few (to begin with) reluctant allies along the way.
Frances Hardinge turns out to be quite a versatile author. She showed up just in time, for me to discover her books, when Diana Wynne Jones passed away. Not that I've stopped loving her books and will continue to read them, but sadly now there won't be any more from her. Hardinge's books remind me a bit of Diana Wynne Jones' books. I've been quite surprised at how varied Hardinge's stories are, especially when it comes to the setting. They're all quite 'serious' and dark, but not too much so. Fortunately there's always a happy ending, at least to some extent.
If I'm going to mention something that didn't quite work out, it's the fact that the atmosphere in the story didn't 'feel' like the 1920's - at first I couldn't guess what time the story was set in - anytime before the 1970's? I also have a bit of a question - did the newspapers really publish photos of missing people back then? It seems a bit too modern, but then I'm hardly an expert.
This book, that I initially thought might be a bit too dark to be a real favorite for me, actually turned out to be among my very favorites, among Hardinge's books. In fact, I love them all, though I found the last book I read (Face of Glass) a little too bleak and depressing. As for Cuckoo Song, I can recommend it to anyone who likes low fantasy YA books.