Sunday, February 15, 2015

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Twig isn't allowed to have friends.  She can't invite any over to her house.  Then they might find out the secret.  A witch placed a curse on Twig's family two hundred years ago.  The curse effects the men of Twig's family.  No one must find out about her brother.  But this summer strange things are happening.  There are rumors of a monster in Twig's town of Sidwell.  A family moves back to town with an ancient connection to Twig's.  The time has come to break the curse.

This was a lovely, strange, little fairy tail.  It's a slim book, and honestly there wasn't a whole lot of character development going on, which added to the fairy tale feel of it.  We don't really get to know any of these people very well.

Twig's older brother, James, is not suppose to leave the house.  No one in town even knows the Twig has a brother.  She isn't allowed to get close to anyone.  Accepting an invitation would eventually mean inviting someone to her home, and that is not allowed.  Twig's mother, a baker, keeps to herself as well, even though she grew up in Sidwell and at one point had many friends.  When Twig's family returned to Sidwell after both children being born and living in New York, they returned after dark and without Twig's father.  Twig doesn't know much about her father.  But she can guess the reason why he left.

Twig's isolated world is shaken when Julie and her family move into the abandoned Mourning Dove Cottage.  Julie's family is warm and welcoming and open, and Julie seems to like Twig right away.  But then Twig's mother forbids her from having any contact with the family.  They are related to Agnes Early, the Witch of Sidwell who had cursed the family two hundred years ago.

For the first time, Twig disobeys her mother.  She and Julie become friends.  James is also disobeying his mother.  He leaves the house at night.  It is during one of these evenings that he is seen by Julia's older sister Agate.  The two fall in love.

It seems that a tragic destiny is going to repeat itself.  But then Twig, Julie, James and Agate decide to try and break the curse.

We really don't know very much about James, and even less about Agate.  Just that she's beautiful and makes her own clothes.  There are a few other characters, mysterious Collie and Dr. Shelton, both who have large impacts but we really don't know much about.  Twig's father appears, with a reason for his long absence which, I just didn't buy.  Maybe he stayed away out of respect for his wife's wishes.  But you'd think he's still want to see his kids.

It's a nice, quick fairy tale.  Romance and drama and friendship and a happy ending.

Nightbird comes out February 26, 2015.


  1. An absolutely magical book! "Nightbird" is geared towards middle school readers (age 8 - 12) and would likely not get the same vote of enthusiasm from young adults looking for sophisticated paranormal romance and that sort of thing. This story both simple and elegant in its simplicity. It reminds of the fairy tales of yesteryear. I was absolutely enchanted by Twig and highly, highly recommend this for your younger readers who like a little fantasy, mystery and imagination.

  2. This book lends itself to being read out loud. It has all the drama and timing. I have been reading this book to three small children and they are thrilled, happy, excited, and interested in it. The reading of the story may be appropriate to the grade 5 and up, but the story appeals to many younger children.


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