A Song for the Telling

Young Adult - Coming of Age
232 Pages
Reviewed on 06/03/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

Alina: A Song for the Telling by Malve von Hassell is a coming-of-age novel that will draw readers into an intriguing and historical journey back to twelfth-century Jerusalem at the time of the Crusades. Alina and Milos are siblings who have been left orphaned after their mother and sister died and their father committed suicide in the depths of grief. When their mean uncle and persnickety aunt arrive to put the estate in order after their father had let it run down, Milos and Alina cannot stand their overbearing attitudes and undesired plans for them. In desperation, they decide to travel to Jerusalem as pilgrims to pray for the soul of their late father. Alina, a talented lute player, has dreams of becoming a troubadour like her father, whilst Milos just wants to experience the world and all its forbidden fruits. So begins a treacherous journey that will be full of adventure and excitement for the youngsters.

Alina is a fantastically easy and enjoyable read. Tailored for young adults, the language is simple and the plot flows seamlessly from one exciting arc and intrigue to the next. The two lead characters are fascinating in their own right. Milos is a typical young man keen to discover all that life has to offer him, especially the vices of women, alcohol, and gambling but his commitment to Alina and their joint futures can never be questioned. He loves his younger sister with an elder brotherly warmth and concern. Alina is surely the star of the tale and the adventure is told through her eyes. She is somewhat of a contradiction as although she is seemingly certain of her plans for the future, to become a traveling musician, she does find the comfort and security that marriage offers appealing, especially if it was to Count Stephen. What I liked was Alina’s compassion and heart. Despite her needs and wants, she had a genuine desire to help others to improve their lot in life. Her commitment to seeing her errant elder brother safe and out of trouble would take up much of her time and effort, though. The political intrigue and backstabbing within the Jerusalem court ensures interesting and challenging arcs, plot twists, and turns. I particularly enjoyed the long, arduous trip overland to Jerusalem that, of course, took several months. The long journey allowed the author to develop her main characters exceedingly well and also to plant a red herring or two regarding the true nature of some of them. I was pleased to see the author left the door open for a possible sequel. I enjoyed meeting these characters and would love to see more of them. This is a wonderful read that I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend.