Rosie’s #BooKReview Team #RBRT #SpeculativeFiction HER MAD SONG by C.J. Halbard

Today’s team review is from Terry. She blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Her Mad Song by C.J. Halbard

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3.5 stars

I admit to struggling a bit with this book, although it was well-written in many ways. A look at Goodreads half way through told me that Her Mad Song is not the first in this series, and I did feel as though I needed to understand more about the world the author has created, to fully ‘get’ it. An introduction tells us that Tempest Bay {a remote coastal town in New Zealand where the series is set} exists in novellas, podcasts and interactive experiences.

The story begins with an unnamed man and a twelve-year-old girl, Lucia, arriving at Tempest Bay, and moves on to curious relationships with the people they meet there, including a meteorologist they’ve sought out. CJ Halbard certainly has literary talent and has produced some fine atmospheric prose. The characterisation and dialogue are both fairly good, though the experimental style didn’t always work for me; the predominance of the subordinate/dependent clause became irritating after a while. The subordinate clause in place of a full sentence can have such impact, but it needs to be used sparingly. Then there’s that lack of speech marks thing … writers such as Cormac McCarthy manage to get away with it by leaving you in no doubt when a passage or line is speech rather than narrative, with minimum use of he-said-she-said, but it’s not the easiest of skills to master. Breaking ‘the rules’ tends to work better once you’ve worked within them for a while.


Readers who appreciate poetic writing and like something a bit unreal and outside the box may absolutely love this, but I thought it could do with the hand of a good developmental editor to give it better structure and definition; the story seemed a bit ‘all over the place’. There is much to commend, but I’m just … not sure. 


I read the information at the back, hoping to get a bit more insight. Much of it appears to be allegorical; an ’emotional climate change’, an ‘external imaginative environment that connects us all’, in which we could be ‘causing permanent lasting damage’. The concept seemed rather vague, without much substance or explanation, though I took a look at the excerpts from the other stories, at the end, and I liked them well enough. Could be that I’m just the wrong audience; the website is enticing and well-presented, for anyone who is interested; it’s HERE.

Book description

The strange and haunting story of rediscovering yourself in a time of madness.

A man and his adopted daughter come to Tempest Bay seeking a mystery. The world outside is aflame with anger and turmoil, but here in this tiny coastal town the old ways still hold. They take shelter with an obsessive meteorologist, in the shadow of a dark tower on the clifftops. From here they must navigate the labyrinth of small-town secrets and their own fears as a long-awaited storm approaches…

Her Mad Song imagines a world on the cusp of emotional climate change: a profound shift in how our inner lives connect to the places around us. The warring forces of this world are kindness and cruelty, creativity and death, history and memory and possibility and the deep primordial terror that echoes from the ocean to the stars.

Welcome to Tempest Bay.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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