Shelta’s Songbook by Leia Talon is a whimsical introduction to the Roots and Stars series of novels coming out in 2021. It’s comprised of short stories, love letters and songs, alongside illustrations (paperback version) all carefully knitted together into a constellation that spans the lifetimes of Shelta Raine, the main character in the story who travels through time.
On its own, Shelta’s Songbook weaves a web of disparate moments that need not be the purview of a time traveler to have impact. Love, loss, self-care, and self-doubt are all tackled at different moments, and it all connects in a deep, human way.
What’s interesting about Shelta’s Songbook is that while It suits well as an introduction to a love story that promises to span time and immortality, it can also stand alone on it’s own merits as a book of poetry. Taken out of context from the canon of the series of romance novels, it says enough on it’s own that it need not be seen as just a companion piece.
I reviewed the paperback version, so my comments on the illustrations are going to be based on that. I don’t believe the e-book version has nearly as much visual content, so fair warning that if you want the full experience, I highly recommend investing in the paperback version. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.
Coming from an illustration background, I’m pretty critical about consistency of illustrations and their necessity. Sometimes poetry books include illustrations for the sake of it—I didn’t get that feeling from Shelta’s Songbook. They were all related to the content, well-executed on a technical level, and downright gorgeous. They are all black and white line illustrations, filled with swirls, outlines and silhouettes that are airy and bright alongside the text. It was a perfect combination.
Should You Read It
There are two audiences that I think would be a perfect fit for this book. First, if you plan on reading any of the Roots and Stars series, then absolutely this is a perfect addition and precursor to the stories. As far as if you should read Roots and Stars: If you’re a fan of fantasy elements, love stories that span time and unthinkable odds, and whimsical writing, then the series is something that would be up your alley.
Secondly, if you’re a fan of poetry anthologies that are whimsical with a hint of the fantastical, but above all that touch the parts of us that are so inherently human—this is a paperback that you would do well to have on your shelf.
Trigger Warnings None