Book Review: Nightbird (Alice Hoffman)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Release Date: 26 February 2015
Summary (from Goodreads):
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 enjoyed this book: there’s something very easy going about it. As a MG book it’s not too taxing or complicated in its plot. Twig is a lonely girl with a family secret to hide, but it all soon unravels when a new family moves next door, a family who just happen to be descendants of the witch who cursed the men in Twig’s family to be born with wings.
Alice Hoffman weaves a beautiful tale of this isolated family and their struggles and creates a very real town with some beautifully written characters, in such a natural way that it didn’t feel like reading fiction at all. My criticism would be that some things were found out a bit too easily: a lot of clues were handed out to the young girls when I think we could have had more fun searching for clues with them. The revelation of Twig’s father was very predictable too, and while Twig admits she probably knew it all along, it would have been nice to hear her musing on the idea.
The ending felt a little rushed and stilted: a lot of information is told very quickly and I felt I would rather have experienced them as a few scenes rather than “this happened and this happened”, but it was one of those stories where I was glad to have a happy ending for everyone. Despite some of the tough times Twig goes through and the rough mix of emotions she feels, I felt it was an overall happy book. There was little doom and gloom about their situation even if no one was exactly over the moon about it. It has some great messages for the younger readers as well: conservation and friendship being two of the key ones.
This is the kind of book I’d be happy to pass over to my little sisters: light and engaging with some relatable characters and good sprinkling of magic.