Sunday, June 21, 2015

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman is a charming juvenile fantasy.

Twig's family has a secret, one that keeps them perpetually on the edges of society in their small New England town. Sometimes, Twig almost feels invisible -- but when a new family moves in nearby, she forms a tentative friendship with Julia, who is just Twig's age. Twig worries that Julia will soon drop her for someone more interesting, especially since Twig can never tell Julia the truth about her family secret -- a secret which also touches Julia's family history. When talk of a monster in town threatens to boil over into action, Twig must quickly decide what to do -- and who to trust.

I read this in a distracted frame of mind, so I may not have given it the attention it deserves. It's definitely a sweet book with lots going on, plenty of interesting interactions between characters, a great small-town atmosphere, and some nice character development for Twig. Because of my own distracted state while reading (mostly backstage, with half an eye on the monitor so I wouldn't miss my next cue), I had a hard time keeping some of the minor characters straight, and I thought the plot resolved a little too neatly and simply -- but maybe not, for middle-grade fantasy. Readers who love magical realism and don't mind a story with a simple, fairy-tale feel should give this book more attention than I obviously did!

(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)

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