Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Book Review: The Orphan's Song by Lauren Kate

Pages: 336
Genre: Adult Historical Fiction
Pub. Date: June 25, 2019
Publisher: Putnam
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author:  Fallen, Torment, and Passion
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars 

Goodreads says, "The historical adult debut novel by # 1 New York Timesbestselling author Lauren Kate, The Orphan's Song is a sweeping love story about family and music--and the secrets each hold--that follows the intertwined fates of two Venetian orphans.     A song brought them together.  A secret will tear them apart.  Venice, 1736. When fate brings Violetta and Mino together on the roof of the Hospital of the Incurables, they form a connection that will change their lives forever. Both are orphans at the Incurables, dreaming of escape. But when the resident Maestro notices Violetta's voice, she is selected for the Incurables' world famous coro, and must sign an oath never to sing beyond its church doors.  After a declaration of love ends in heartbreak, Mino flees the Incurables in search of his family. Known as the "city of masks," Venice is full of secrets, and Mino is certain one will lead to his long-lost mother. Without him, the walls close in on Violetta and she begins a dangerous and forbidden nightlife, hoping her voice can secure her freedom. But neither finds what they are looking for, until a haunting memory Violetta has suppressed since childhood leads them to a shocking confrontation.  Vibrant with the glamour and beauty of Venice at its zenith, The Orphan's Song takes us on a breathtaking journey of passion, heartbreak, and betrayal before it crescendos to an unforgettable ending, a celebration of the enduring nature and transformative power of love."
Violetta's childhood has been anything but easy at Venice's Hospital of the Incurables, which is a strange place that is not only an orphanage, but is also a music school.  The Incurables have an incredible and exclusive chorus and Violetta not only dreams of singing in it, but also of leaving behind this life.  Sixteen year old Violetta escapes to the rooftop one night and she meets Mino, who is also an orphan and a talented violinist.  Mino has big dreams too; he hopes to one day find his mother who left him here at the orphanage when he was just a toddler. All he remembers is the song she sang to him.  Violetta has some secrets surrounding this that come to the surface as their relationship plays out.  Violetta and Mino have an undeniable connection, but with all the curve balls life throws them, readers will question not only if their love with survive, but will they make it through all the heartbreak that life at the Incurables inevitably provides.  Lauren Kate's adult debut, The Orphan Song, is steeped in historical details that fans of Venice, as well as music, will especially appreciate.

Violetta is an interesting character in The Orphan Song. She wants so much more for her life and readers want that for her, but ultimately, she was hard to connect with.  She has been working towards being a part of the exclusive chorus at the Incurables, but she often gambles with her future by exploring Venice at night, which is strictly forbidden.  Her relationship with Mino was heartwarming, but it also possessed some insta-love characteristics, which I didn't really enjoy.  I wanted Kate to flesh out their relationship a bit more, but instead readers jumped right into a full-blown infatuation.  Due to this, The Orphan Song read a bit more like a mature YA novel than a serious adult historical novel, but one could argue that is because the main characters were teenagers at the time.  Nonetheless, I wanted a bit more from their romance.

The best part of The Orphan Song was the setting of 18th century Venice.  Kate hit the ball out of the park with her depiction of this alluring city.  The canals, the masks, the carnevale, the music, and the secretive people were so very well done.  It was a very vivid setting and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.  It's also really interesting to find out that the Hospital of the Incurables was based on a real place in Venice.

Despite the less than stellar romance, I really appreciated some of the plot twits towards the end of The Orphan Song. A few took me by surprise and kept me flipping the pages and while I didn't love this novel as much as some other historical novels I read this year, I have to say that the setting of Venice was so memorable that made some of the other disappointing aspects of the novel disappear.  So, if you love novels that take place in Venice and have a focus on music, The Orphan Song is for you.


  1. The setting really does sound incredible!

    1. It was definitely the best part of the story! Thanks for visiting, Angela.

  2. I sometimes enjoy insta-love, but yeah it has to make sense somehow. I love the setting, though and the concept of the Incurables.

    1. Yes, the setting is what really made this book worthwhile for me. I love Venice! Thanks for visiting, Joy!


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