by Alice Hoffman
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for a chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
Published: 5th March 2015
‘People in Sidwell argue as much as people do anywhere, but everyone agrees on one thing: Our monster can only be seem at night, and then only if you are standing at your window, or walking on a lane near the orchards, or if you happen to be passing our house.’ Loc 23
Author: Alice Hoffman
Published by: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Children’s Fiction
Rating: 3.5 Voodoos
Recommended: To fans of Classic Children’s books
Twig lives in a remote area of town with her mysterious brother and her mother, baker of irresistible apple pies. A new girl in town might just be Twig’s first true friend, and ally in vanquishing an ancient family curse. A spellbinding tale of modern folklore set in the Berkshires, where rumours of a winged beast draw in as much tourism as the town’s famed apple orchards.
I should have known from the beginning that Alice Hoffman was also the author of Practical Magic. I must admit, I haven’t read the book, but I have watched the film so many times, that I can quote almost all of it. It’s one of my favourites. The reason I love Practical Magic so much is because it had such a full back-story, all that heritage, seamlessly blending the gritty reality with fairytale aspects, making me feel like I was part of ‘the magic’. That I was in on a secret. Couple this with the unwavering bond between the siblings and a beautiful, well developed romance, and you just can’t fault it!
Nightbird has that same magical feel. It was full of history and folklore, you are left wondering about the monster for quite a while, as it introduces the main characters, and the history of Sidwell first. It’s the people that make Sidwell what it is, I just loved the gossiping group of men that meet at the hardware store each day to discuss the worries of the village. It was a good twist on the women’s gossip groups you usually find.
I really enjoyed seeing Twig (the main character) develop. She was alone and sad at the beginning but also curious and strong-minded. When Julia turned up, they became friends and slowly Twig became more confident and self assured. Julia was easily my favourite character. She was so happy and refused to allow Twig to revert back to being a recluse.
Nightbird is aimed at a young (middle-grade) audience and this is obvious, as the storyline is quite simple and predictable. It is a classic story of misunderstanding, heartache, a curse that spans decades, and love, that eventually conquers all. While I found the story, for me, a little lacking in substance, I did find the writing to be exceptional. It is definitely worth reading just for that reason.
My rating is only 3.5 because, for me, it needed to be a little less predictable. But giving Nightbird this rating does feel a little unjust as I am not the target audience age. If I were, I would have adored this. This is a beautiful book, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a book for a 8-13 year old child.
I would love to read more of Alice Hoffman’s work. She’s written so many books that I don’t even know where to start! If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know.