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I love it when you find a book that ticks all the boxes for you like The Nightjar has for me. It is full of exciting magic, the setting is magnificent introducing you to a hidden alternate London packed with intriguing complex characters and the main plot is unique and imaginative.
The idea of Nightjars that guard peoples souls is one of the most original, clever and beautiful ideas I have ever read about in a fantasy book. I loved how the author has brought in Finnish folklore and mythology into this story too and has woven it into a complete masterpiece of atmospheric storytelling.
Though it is a magical book, it is quite gritty at times with some bloody scenes and shocking events that will leave you gobsmacked. It also has some twist and turns and a fair few red herrings that were superbly done.
You are pulled into an immersive reading journey that will capture your imagination. Themes such as loyalty, betrayal, love, death and friendship feature. Mixed in then with death cults, a magic library, a land of the dead and so much more. You will be totally spoilt rotten reading all of this.
The Nightjar is the first in a duology, and recently the last book, The Rookery was published. I am currently reading that and it is just as amazing! I will review that separately soon.
If you haven’t read this book before, I strongly advise you pick it up as you are in for a treat!
My thanks to Pan Macmillan for an eARC via NetGalley of Deborah Hewitt’s ‘The Nightjar’ in exchange for an honest review.
I quickly fell in love with this novel and as it had just been published I elected to purchase its Kindle/Audible combination for an immersive experience. The audiobook was brought vividly to life by its narrator, Tamaryn Payne.
Alice Wyndham has had a fear of birds her entire life and at times has frightening visions of them. Her best friend, Jen, is the only person who understands her fear. When Alice witnesses the death of an old woman in Trafalgar Square it sets off a series of events that reveals a hidden city that intersects with London. A mysterious man named Crowley helps her understand her special ability to see nightjars, magical birds that guard the human soul.
When Jen is involved in an accident and lies in a coma, Alice has to find a way to travel to Death’s aviary to retrieve Jen’s nightjar.
This is just a taste of what lies within the pages of this wonderful novel. I was stunned by Hewitt’s rich world-building and quickly became invested in Alice’s journey to save her friend as well as to adjust to this strange, new reality.
Since childhood I have loved tales about magical lands that lie just beyond ordinary perception. Hewitt has skilfully woven in elements of Finnish folklore and mythology into her imagined world.
Her writing is beautiful and there is plenty of action and adventure, twists and revelations. It was an assured debut and I was very happy to learn that she is writing a sequel as there was so much potential for further exploration.
An absolutely wonderful read full of magic and folklore. The characters jump out from the page, I lay awake wondering what would happen to them, eager to get back to this unputdownable book. It is so well written you are sucked into the world of the Rookery immediately, a place of magic, deceit and love. My best read of 2019 by far.
Personally, a good sign of how much I enjoy a book is how long it takes me to read it. I bought The Nightjar on Friday and finished it two days later. Testament indeed as it was a normal busy family weekend! The book is a fast paced story centred around Alice, who discovers her true magical capabilities and the world in which they belong. The book is extremely imaginative and unique. I enjoyed Alice’s journey of discovery and found her character endearing. The Rookery (the alternative magical London) is well considered and constructed, as are the new characters we meet there. Whilst the book stands on its own two feet, if I were to try to describe it by similar types, I would say that is a mix of Philip Pullman and J.K.Rowling, but with more adult themes, so not one for younger children. A great debut novel! The only downside is how long I am going to have to wait for the next book!
Not a bad read, interesting premise and characters, but I found myself getting really irritated by the main character Alice. I know that plot advancement can depend on the characters' mistakes/misunderstandings but she took it to new heights. She's so determined to do things her way she ignores all good advice while being taken in by bad. The inescapable conclusion is that she means we'll but is, quite simply, not very bright. Perhaps she'll smarten up by vol. 2.
The use of mythology is excellent, and I felt like the rules were very clear and well-imagined. It takes the portal fantasy structure and goes somewhere unique and fun. By the end I realised that the overall story arc was very clever. I always love a will-they-won't-they romance and this one didn't disappoint. Can't wait for more.
Wow - this book had me hooked from start to finish. If magical worlds are your thing then this is right up your ‘otherworldly’ street. The detail and thought that has gone into weaving this magical tale is clear on every single page and I just did not want to put it down. I can’t wait for more magic to come from Deborah Hewitt. For a first book I think she smashed it - I’m in - hook, line and sinker .......