A copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
“Some things could only be found in Sidwell it seemed: pink apples, black owls, and my brother, James.”
Twelve-year-old Twig’s town in the Berkshires is said to hide a winged beast, the Monster of Sidwell, and the rumors draw as many tourists as the town’s famed pink apple orchards. Twig lives in the orchard with her mysterious brother James and her reclusive mother, a baker of irresistible apple pies. Because of a family secret, an ancient curse,Twig has had to isolate herself from other kids. Then a family with two girls, Julia and Agate, moves into the cottage next door. They are descendants of the witch who put the spell on Twig’s family. But Julia turns out to be Twig’s first true friend, and her ally in trying to undo the curse and smooth the path to true love for Agate and James.
I really loved the setting that Hoffman presented in Twig’s town. It was very easy to visualize and I could smell her mom’s pies cooking as I read. Yes, that’s corny but man…the apple pie descriptions really made me hungry (thankfully there is a recipe at the end of the book). I’ve never lived in a small town myself but I could imagine how it might feel very easily through the town’s physical descriptions as well as the details about the residents. I loved that we saw things through Twig’s point of view and that she was such a lovable character.
Twig’s upbringing wasn’t typical which made her blend into the background in her town rather than stand out. I found that incredibly interesting to imagine her just slipping by. I genuinely felt sad for her though she was in a loving home- but to be such a stranger and vastly ignored? It made me a sad. But as the story progressed Twig learns about friendship and we as the reader really get to experience her coming out of her shell. It was beautifully done and wonderfully slow in its evolution.
The magical realism was such a great aspect of this book (I’ll not tell you how it’s presented because spoilers). It was handled so well that I could completely visualize all of it being real and though it was magic it didn’t feel all that unlikely.
Though I enjoyed my reading experience I will say that the twists weren’t all that surprising to me and it was fairly clear where the story was going. I’m not entirely sure how obvious things need to be for this age group–but it wasn’t that much of a mystery. Some of the pacing was a touch on the slow side but it was a meandering sort of slow rather than a boring one (if that makes any sense).
Nightbird was a beautiful example of magical realism that had a strong and likeable main character. The pacing was slow in parts probably due to how easy it was to predict the story’s outcome. I’ll be hanging on to this one and reading it with my son when he gets a bit older.