Callie is a reporter for her school newspaper, and has landed a backstage pass to interview the band that’s playing in town, Brass Rat. This is a big deal for Callie, who is only 14 and has wildly over-protective parents, which is strange given the names they saddled their children with. These paranoid adults have given their children names that guarantee they will have difficulties in life. I present to you: Marsepolus, Calcephony, and Nickelodeon. In an era with cell phones, they named their youngest son Nickelodeon. I’m not all the way convinced her parents don’t have a touch of something otherworldly about them. Come to think of it, her friends Josee and Alison are a little off as well…
Anyway, Brass Rat has been around for quite a while, and is a folk rock band that’s still popular. Their lead singer/flautist is Peter Gringras, who is still a hottie even though he has to be at least, like, 40. (He’s so old.) Johnny Alabas is the drummer, Scott Morrison (also hot) is on guitar, and Tommy Nickels is on bass. Gringras is mesmerizing with his flute, although at one point he turns it around and plays lefty. Why? It may be impressive, but it’s really just awkward. Is that him flexing like playing a guitar over his head or behind his back or something? A modern flute is not meant to be played like that. Don’t do that.
Well, in alternating chapters to Callie’s tale, we learn Gringras and Alabas’s story. Gringras was a faerie prince who has been exiled to the human realm with his loyal friend Alabas, and he has to do some shady stuff to stay alive. As can be gleaned from the title of the book, he is the original Pied Piper, and he has come to take the children of this town away. He takes his sweet time about it, though. The middle of the book is a little slow, with Cassie struggling to write her newspaper article for three chapters. The pace picks up, though, with the last 40 pages or so flying by.
Callie seems a bit naive at times, but that could be chalked up to her upbringing. Gringras is a selfish brat who has become cruel, which fits in with the fae stereotype. There’s a very short scene after the concert that shows how haunting and cold he is. As for the end, I’m not sure he deserved what he got.
As soon as I saw the names of the Faerie characters, I immediately changed one of them in my head. Gringras became Greengrass immediately, which feels more fae to me anyway. And with a quick Google search, I found out that Alabas is a conjugation of a Spanish word meaning “to praise,” which totally fits.
Another language thing – a bunch of times, someone will use a word that Cassie doesn’t know, and someone will explain what it means. Most of the time it’s something a lot of people know, but sometimes it isn’t, like words in a different language or a word that isn’t used anymore. It’s almost always in dialogue. Great, either building vocabulary or it serves a purpose in the story. But then they throw the word “crepuscular” randomly in there. They explain it, sure, but it really serves no purpose. It’s just tossed in there in describing the light, and it’s not being said by anyone. This is a new vocabulary word for everyone at this point. Have you ever used that word? I haven’t even seen it, and I consider myself fairly well-read. I mean, it’s a real word, with a real meaning, but why on earth throw it in here? It doesn’t fit at all!
Fun fact: Adam Stemple is Jane Yolen’s son! This was the first time he worked together with his mom, which is kinda sweet. Adam is a musician and used his knowledge to help write the book.
Ok, if you want to post “song lyrics” at the back of the book, but don’t actually record the songs somewhere people can find them, don’t. Song lyrics without music are just poetry. You may know the tune and the chords and the rhythms, but the rest of us need a little help! (You have an actual band, dude! There’s no excuse!)
Ale and I came to the conclusion that Jane Yolen wrote the faerie parts and her son wrote the other parts, which may explain why some parts are interesting and well written while others are… not…
This fulfills the 2020 Bingo square of “Music”