Adrienne Tooley’s “Sofi and the Bone Song” (2022) is a beautifully crafted and heartfelt standalone young adult fantasy novel released this year from Simon and Schuster. It follows the titular character, Sofi, who longs to be a Musik like her father — one of a select few musicians in the country with a license to write and perform original songs. Born into a kingdom plagued by an endless winter where magic isn’t sacred, but accessible to all, strict laws ensure that music remains an untouched and pure art form. Ever since she was young, Sofi has trained as a musician with the hopes of inheriting her father’s title, but on the day of auditions, something unexpected occurs. Lara, a girl who’s never played the lute before, enthralls judges with her performance and secures the title of Musik, stealing the only dream Sofi has ever had for her future. Suspecting Lara of the illegal use of magic and mourning the sudden death of her father, Sofi sets out to expose Lara’s crime, only to find herself beginning to question everything she knew about magic, her past and her dreams.
Tooley, a musician herself, explores the subject of music in a fantasy setting with great care and attention. The novel’s slow pacing and lush prose lends itself well to establishing Sofi’s willingness to suffer for her art in contrast to Lara’s innocent love for music solely bringing her joy. And as the two spend more time together, they begin to fall for one another, showcasing how love can truly be found in the most unexpected of places. But amidst the magic and wintry world of the novel is its crux: a story of untangling abuse and learning the dangers of suffering for one’s art. It’s heartbreaking, watching Sofi resent herself for her imperfections and pursue what she loves to her breaking point, only to fail when trying to pursue her lifelong dream. Ultimately, though, this novel is a healing one. “Sofi” is a book about self-discovery, hope and what it means to realize that art should be for us, the creators, before anyone else, even if you have to fail over and over again before you believe it. This book is about what it means to find the love we deserve after being raised by a love we don’t.
“Sofi and the Bone Song“ is an absolute must-read for anyone looking for books with sapphic romance, unique explorations of art or fantasies with masterful worldbuilding.