Dirty Wings – Sarah McCarry
Maia is a teenage piano prodigy and dutiful daughter, imprisoned in the oppressive silence of her adoptive parents’ house like a princess in an ivory tower. Cass is a street rat, witch, and runaway, scraping by with her wits and her knack for a five-fingered discount. When a chance encounter brings the two girls together, an unlikely friendship blossoms that will soon change the course of both their lives. Cass springs Maia from the jail of the only world she’s ever known, and Maia’s only too happy to make a break for it. But Cass didn’t reckon on Jason, the hypnotic blue-eyed rocker who’d capture Maia’s heart as soon as Cass set her free–and Cass isn’t the only one who’s noticed Maia’s extraordinary gifts. Is Cass strong enough to battle the ancient evil she’s unwittingly awakened–or has she walked into a trap that will destroy everything she cares about? In this time, like in any time, love is a dangerous game.
Dirty Wings is an extension of All Our Pretty Songs as it shows us how Maia and Cass (the mothers in AOPS) met and became friends. While it’s technically a sequel, you don’t have to read them back-to-back; it would hold up as a standalone, but there are some “OH, I GET IT” moments that you’d only experience if you read both.
Once again, the prose is gorgeous, particularly during Maia’s sections when she describes her piano playing:
…she is the keys, the strings vibrating, she is the wood of the hammers falling and the brass of the pedals and the charged atoms of the air whirling past her, she is the waves of sound, she is articles bright and living, she is shattering and coming together, she is breathing the music, she is transcendent, she is divine.
Cass and Maia have such an intense relationship that, once Jason enters the scene, Cass’s feelings of fear and loss become palpable. It’s heartbreaking to see how she starts to unravel when she feels like Maia is slipping away from her, and the last couple of chapters piece together the puzzle of their relationship in All Our Pretty Songs.
I felt like this one was more obvious about which myth it was pulling from. There are some visuals that are associated with Persephone, such as the pomegranate, and there is the appearance of a dark, dream-like figure, who I’m guessing is Hades. You don’t have to know the myth to appreciate the allusions because they’re built in so flawlessly, they wouldn’t stand out if you weren’t looking for them.
Because it’s more literary fiction, not a whole lot happens, but the stuff that does happen is significant (I know that’s vague, but I don’t want to spoil anything!). This time around, the story is told in alternating chapters, “Then” and “Now”, and the deeper you get into the book, the more you see how they’re connected. There are some key moments that happen in “Now” that are relevant to All Our Pretty Songs, and it retroactively makes the first book clearer (if that makes sense) as you start to fill in the holes left by the unnamed narrator in AOPS.