He Sang to Me by Casey Tyler book review: A Delightfully Cheesy Ode to Broadway Romance

Tuesday 28 November 2023

He Sang to Me by Casey Tyler
Self Published: 3rd October 2023 by Truelove Publishing

Casey Tyler's debut novel, He Sang to Me is a book that unabashedly caters to the delulu girlies, and as a self-proclaimed member of that tribe, I found myself both cringing and grinning through its pages. This 320 page tale, is reminiscent of a sweet and charming fanfic; intertwining the enchanting worlds of Broadway and romance – two of this reader's, favourite things.

The narrative unfolds amidst the hustle and bustle of New York City, and the author's vivid descriptions and location name drops skilfully bring the city to life. As well as this the pages are dotted with stagey references that act like hidden treasures for theatre enthusiasts like myself. The book really evokes the frenetic energy of the theatre district and certainly sparked my desire to hop on a flight back to New York to explore every corner of the city.

He Sang to Me follows Sunday Truelove, an aspiring actress who moves to New York to pursue her dreams. Within moments she wins tickets to the hottest show on Broadway and whilst she's there has a magical encounter with the leading man and famous British actor, Tyler Axel. From here the two enter a fairytale romance and discover whether they're truly meant to be.

Honestly, it's as cheesy as it sounds and I kind of loved it. There are all the classic tropes, from being spotted by paparazzi to caring for the sick partner and in a way it's pretty iconic. On the other hand, it's pretty basic. The characters aren't particularly developed, Sunday has extreme 'not like other girls' energy which is a little grating and the book, at times, tips into self-indulgence and lacks a grounded narrative. Despite the characters being in their late twenties and thirties, their personalities and emotional journeys comes across quite immature and lean towards a younger audience. It's clear that a bit more editing and development could add a layer of realism to their characterisations. Some of the British aspects were also inaccurate and took me out of the world a little but these are definitely things that could be tweaked and edited for future prints. Nevertheless, the book shines in capturing the essence swooping romance and is a sweet stagey story, with some charming moments.

There are elements of the characters that I truly enjoyed such as Sunday's bright eyed optimism and Tyler's love for his family and his craft. I know I would fall for an ex-Fiyero with a killer voice, although in my experience they're never quite as unproblematic as Tyler! 

The rest of the characters, while somewhat idealised, form a found family that's lovely to discover. The friendships and relationships are sprinkled with relatable moments, creating a sense of nostalgia for those who have ever dreamt of having a dreamy friend group.

The musical theatre aspects of the story are really fun but I do think it would be interesting to include more of the backstage aspect of Broadway. With both of the leads being so heavily ingrained in the world, it would be easy to explore but a lot of the plot points surrounding it are quite surface level and because of the idealised world they are living in, the challenging realities of the Broadway business don't get a light shone on them. I definitely think this is a story that could benefit from a sprinkle of grit to elevate it to the next level.

Casey clearly has a love and talent for writing and whilst I found the initial chapters a bit heavy-handed with unnecessary descriptions, the writing blooms and improves throughout and it's quite wonderful that she's has taken the plunge to write and self publish the story, I'll certainly be keeping an eye our for future (hopefully stagey) treats.

In a nutshell, He Sang to Me offers a quick and enjoyable escape for fans of theatre, celebrity/normal dating dynamics, and the allure of found family tropes. While it may not be a polished piece of literature, its endearing charm, lively New York setting, and relatable theatrical moments make it a worthwhile indulgence for those in need of a cosy break from reality.

Reviewed by Olivia

Follow Casey to keep up with her writing journey

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