Nightbird – Alice Hoffman

Foreword: I am soooo so sorry for not updating my blog as often as I had been before. I work in a tax & accountancy firm (not as an accountant, mind you) and end of financial year is always a savage, brutal time. The stress, long hours and deadlines can put quite a strain on workers so even when I wasn’t working late, I just couldn’t muster up the energy to do anything except watch Forensic Files on the couch. Also, I don’t mean to be blaming everything in the world but I feel like I can’t find a comfortable place to read anymore. I just need a really squishy, nice couch but my couch is as hard as a block of wood (I loathe it. Worst purchase I’ve ever made). I need a squishy recliner or something nice that isn’t my bed (I don’t want to be glued to the thing). It’s really hard to find one that isn’t extremely expensive but I’m working on it!

Rating: 6.5/10

Review:

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I’ll start off by saying that this was a really great book to read at precisely this time of the year. It was short, beautiful and interesting. I have always loved young adult books and I resonate with the outlook the characters often have. I personally am not a huge fan of coming-of-age stories but I enjoy the open-mindedness of the characters and the often magical elements that are in the stories.

“I never said a word to my mother even though I knew that James sneaked out at night. It was after dark when the woods were most filled with magic, when there were fireflies and the mist was rising from the streams. Another secret of ours, one I’d never tell: He sometimes brought me with him.”

Twig is a young, quiet girl who lives in the town of Sidwell. The local legend of Agnes the witch has always been a favorite for the inhabitants of the town. None of the well-meaning residents realise that the effects of the witches curse is a reality for Twig and her family. For her mum has another child, who has been hidden away from the world. To keep the secret, Twig adapts to a life of isolation and secrecy. But circumstance thrusts her into the lives of her neighbours and the secret may not be hidden for long.

From the get go, the book had my interest. The cover is beautiful, the blurb is enigmatic and the first chapter seems ready to thrust the reader into a new and exciting world.

Unfortunately, the book just didn’t deliver on originality. By the time the ‘secret’ was revealed to the reader, I felt that I already knew the ending. It is a relatively unoriginal concept and the details of how the curse came about are left until the very end. This was a bit disappointing to me because the lack of knowledge around the curse meant that there was no element of suspense. I talked about this a little bit in my review of The Ghost Hunters: “I also wish that more hints and clues could have been placed along the book as to the reality it proposed at the end. Without these being trickled throughout, the reader can only shrug and simply accept what is being written. There is no chance for speculation or to form your own opinion due to some ‘evidence’ not being shown at the time it was meant to occur.” Because I had no idea of why this curse came about until the very last moments of the book, the suspense and intrigue just wasn’t there. So this was a beautiful book but it lacked the attachment that grows when you feel like you know the characters and their motivations.

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However, I did enjoy my read of this novel. I felt that the town of Sidwell was charming and, although magical, strangely realistic. I felt that there were well-defined characters and that the concept behind the novel was intriguing and poetic. Unfortunately, Hoffman just didn’t develop the curse well enough to have this impact the reader. The book could have benefited from being longer and from having some more exposition input for context.

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