Now Reading
Book Review: Sing Me To Sleep by Gabi Burton

Book Review: Sing Me To Sleep by Gabi Burton

If you love stories with morally grey protagonists who are just as likely to kill those around them as save them, then Gabi Burton’s Sing Me To Sleep is the darkly thrilling and addictive book for you. The first novel in a YA fantasy duology with an all Black and Brown cast, it follows a siren assassin who joins forces with the prince she hates, infiltrating his investigation into an assassin targeting people with links to the royals – a killer that happens to be the deadly siren herself.

As the last siren in her kingdom, Saoirse Sorkova has lived under a cloak of secrets and lies her entire life. She has the power to sing a man to an early grave but she’s considered a monstrosity and, as such, her existence is illegal. If her true identity were ever discovered, she would face certain death and her adopted family would be punished for harbouring a monster. It would be a terrible idea, then, for her to take a job as the Crown Prince’s bodyguard. Which is exactly what happens when Saoirse finds herself blackmailed by someone with a seemingly bigger vendetta against the royals and a much more nefarious agenda. With her beloved sister’s life being used as collateral, Saoirse has no choice but to do the blackmailer’s bidding.

Disguised as a fae and pretending to be the perfect loyal soldier, Saoirse reluctantly joins Prince Hayes’ security team. She expects to despise the young and entitled royal but he’s not at all what she thought he’d be. He’s kind and charming, and he genuinely cares about the people around him – including Saoirse herself, who despite trying to remain aloof, seems to fascinate the prince. The more they work side-by-side, investigating the assassin hiding in plain sight, the more they’re drawn to each other and the more conflicted Saoirse becomes. Soon it’s not just her sister she’s desperate to protect, but the very prince she once vowed to destroy.

The horrifying truth: I’m as drawn to water as men are to me. When I’m near it, it speaks to me. Urges me to act. Kill. The call of the water is as fierce as it is deadly. My own personal Siren Song.”

Gabi Burton’s debut draws you in from the opening chapter, which makes it very clear the kind of protagonist Saoirse is. She’s vicious and ruthless, a killer by nature who thrills in the act of taking a man’s life as much as she hates herself for it. Yet she never feels like a monster. She’s grown up on the same stories people were told about sirens – of their brutality, their mercilessness – and it’s shaped the way she views herself and the history of her kind. There’s no one left to tell her of any other side to the sirens, which is why her adopted family are so important. They offer her unconditional love and support, and though Saoirse had a habit of pushing her parents away, it’s because she’s worried she’ll end up hurting them. Everything that drives her comes from a place of loss and fear.

A character with such changeable morals will always keep readers on their toes, and Saoirse certainly does that. It’s what draws Hayes to her too. It’s her job to protect him but she barely hides the fact that she doesn’t like him; that she’s merely tolerating him to get the job done. Something that amuses and intrigues the prince in equal measure. He’s used to his subjects fawning over him and his guards joking with him. Saoirse refuses to rise to his playful nature but his easy charm manages to slip through the hairline cracks of her armour regardless. Hayes isn’t a stranger to grief and loss, and it’s his good heart and thoughtfulness that endears him to Saoirse – and readers, too. If ever there was a blueprint for a perfect fantasy love interest, Burton has created it with Hayes.

Sing Me To Sleep is a story filled with the polarising aspects of love and hate – how the two can be entwined and conflicted, and be a driving force for both good and bad. It’s also chiefly a story about family. Hayes is part of a royal bloodline yet he has nothing but contempt and resentment for his parents. By contrast, Saoirse doesn’t share any blood with her parents or sibling, but there’s nothing she wouldn’t do to keep them safe. It’s a complicated sisterly devotion that Saoirse has for Rain, an almost claustrophobic love that drives the character forward in some respects, and holds her back in others. Part of Saoirse’s evolution is realising that holding on too tightly might keep the ones you love safe, but it can suffocate them too.

There are some elements of Sing Me To Sleep that feel a little too convenient and easily won, whilst certain characters seem purposely kept in the shadows early on, which dampens the impact of later revelations (if you think I’m being purposely vague, you’d be right – you’ll find no blatant spoilers here). Yet this debut remains compelling and tense throughout – in no small part down to its prickly protagonist, the sizzling chemistry between the siren and the prince, and the sisterly bond that forms the very heart of the book. It sets the scene perfectly for a sequel that promises more conflict, more death, more romance, more betrayal and more hopeful found-family love. Expect the next book to be as hotly anticipated as the first.


Sing Me To Sleep is published by Hodderscape on 27 June 2023

View Comments (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.