Review copy provided courtesy of the author.
Lucien Beaumont is a teenage musical prodigy who has fallen on hard times after a family tragedy. When he discovers an unfinished piece of music by his late father he becomes obsessed with completing it. It is no ordinary song, and Lucien will discover that great art requires great sacrifice.
Music horror is one of my favorite things, and this is an excellent take that kept me fully engaged right from the start. Even knowing the endgame, the journey to that end was full of surprises and little connections and references that kept it exciting throughout (not to mention the least whimsical unicorn I can think of). There's something about cursed art (be it painting, music, literature--you name it) and an artist character descending into obsession and madness that never fails to pull me in. Throw in a demonic entity goading said artist, and I am 100% here for it.
While cursed music and demons are plenty scary, the scariest aspect of this story is Lucien himself. Told entirely from his perspective we experience his disdain for nearly everyone and everything around him, and the violent fantasies that accompany it. His thoughts are so believable written that this would have been a deeply uncomfortable read even without the inclusion of a demonic song designed to end the world, but the song takes the story up many a notch by giving Lucien's hatred and violence a focused obsession. That's not to say Lucien is entirely unsympathetic, he has lost one parent (and the other is essentially lost as well) and is dealing with daily bullying and harassment in an unfamiliar environment with little support. So while I didn't particularly like Lucien, I felt Lawson did a fantastic job at making sure I understood him, and absolutely made him interesting.
The writing here is lush and descriptive without being overblown and BLACK HEART BOYS' CHOIR delivered everything I wanted it to (and them some). Definitely recommend checking this one out in September!