June 7th, 2015 by Karen
If you’ve read Alice Hoffman’s other books (like Aquamarine and Indigo), then you won’t be surprised to hear that her latest novel, Nightbird, features a mysterious magical being. And the book opens with an introduction to it: “Some people insist it’s a bird bigger than an eagle; others say it’s a dragon, or an oversized bat that resembles a person. … Children whisper that we have a monster on our midst…”
With that beginning, I expected Nightbird to be quite dark and spooky, but it’s more of a dusky book: not bright and sunny by any means, but also very far from total midnight creepiness — think along the lines of those quiet twilight moments that mark an ending but also carry a spark of hope and the beauty and promise of a brand new night about to unfurl itself before you. To me, that’s the feeling of Nightbird.
The story is told by Twig (real name: Teresa). For her whole life in Sidwell, a big family secret has forced Twig to keep to herself and lead a lonely existence. But one summer, a family with kids moves in next door and Twig has a chance at making a real friend. Even though Twig’s mother forbids her from spending any time with the new family, it’s difficult for Twig to resist. But is she putting her own family’s lives at risk?
And there are several mysteries going on in town too. Who is spray painting all around the place, leaving messages to try to stop the upcoming demolition of the woods? And who is responsible for all the clothing and other belongings that are going missing from people’s backyards? Could it be one single culprit making all the mischief? Some folks in town certainly think so — and they have it all pinned on the Sidwell Monster…
I really enjoyed seeing how all these different story strands come together, and the best part is that Alice Hoffman doesn’t tell you everything in chronological order or lay out all the facts for you right from the start of the book. Instead you get information and insight bit by bit, which makes it so much more satisfying when the pieces begin to intersect.
If you’ve already read Nightbird, leave a comment and let me know! Or just tell me: Are there any interesting stories or legends about where you live?
Review copy from the publisher.