Christine Morgan’s review of NIGHT BIRDS

Night Birds

by Lisa Snellings and Alan M. Clark

IFD Publishing

Oh wow did this book bring back memories of being a kid growing up during the 1960s and 1970s! The main character, Lucy, has a few years on me, though. And a much weirder childhood with more complicated family dynamics and unusual goings-on. Many of which are not just unusual, but seem downright supernatural.

When you’re a little kid, especially a little girl, the world can feel like one big puzzle with everyone keeping secrets, withholding information, and saying you’re not old enough or you’ll understand some day. They expect you to be quiet and obedient and follow the rules.

But, when you’re a curious, clever, rebellious, stubborn, sassy, tomboyish little girl, “some day” isn’t good enough, and Lucy understandably chafes under being kept in the dark and having her questions go unanswered.

Why, for instance, does her grandmother have so many strange rules no one else in the family seems to have to follow? Rules about opening windows, and taking naps under the bed? Why does her grandmother bury glass jars containing odd items in the garden? Why do her grandmother and the family housekeeper, both practitioners of rustic magic, have such a strained relationship?

And what about the other girl — ghost-girl? — Lucy keeps seeing? What about the man in the dark suit and black fedora? What’s up with the crowds of crows, and why does it upset her mother so much? What’s going on with her brother? With the new neighbors who move in, the ones with the peculiar daughter and the pet monkey?

Having the story unfold presented through Lucy’s childlike point of view lends it that genuine feeling of being simultaneously aware and unaware of the greater moving currents all around you, the frustration of being left out and no one will let you in. Really well-written and evocative, it makes for an engrossing read, as Lucy continues to push the stifling boundaries imposed upon her.

My only complaint, or maybe disappointment, was the ending, which felt kind of abrupt and left a lot of tantalizing questions unanswered. Yet, even that, given the themes of frustration and not-knowing Lucy has to deal with throughout the book, is somehow fitting.

To read more of Christine Morgan’s reviews, visit her blog, CHRISTINE MORGAN’S WORLD OF WORDS.

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