A Bewitchingly Beautiful Tale of Family and Friendship
by Alice Hoffman
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Random House Children’s Books
Ages: 10 and up
Buy the Book
Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell.
Twig Fowler lives in Sidwell, Massachusetts, the only place you can find the rare variety of apple her mother uses to bake delicious pies that people would be willing to line up for in New York City. Sleepy little Sidwell may not be the Big Apple, but there seem to be things that never sleep. Town legend immortalizes a historic witch, and there are rumors of a monster. Whether it’s a huge bird, a dragon, or another winged creature, no one knows for certain. But the mysterious “Sidwell Monster” is the talk of the town.
Twig knows there is no monster. The truth is her family has a secret — one she and her mother have closely guarded by living “in the corners of everyday life.” (Translation: Twig has no friends.) But with town gossips up in arms about some petty thefts for which they blame the monster, and a new family moving into Mourning Dove Cottage across the street, more than just Twig’s secret is at stake.
Twig is aloft in a tree, trying to get a good glimpse of the new neighbors, when she falls and breaks her arm. Little could she have known how that accident would change her life forever.
With Nightbird, Hoffman creates a vividly realistic small town filled with believable characters, while deftly managing to weave in enough of the magical and fantastic to create a story that feels like fairy tale or myth. The moody and beautiful opening chapter quickly entrances the reader as it sets the tone. Twig’s loneliness is palpable. Through her and other characters, Hoffman communicates the heartache that can accompany solitude. Just as the novel blends magic and realism, it balances light with dark. Though the mysterious, ominous tones of the mystery, complete with the “Sidwell Witch”, are ever-present, hope remains.
Just as Twig and Julia’s herb garden flourishes, so does their friendship grow. As events unfold and Twig learns more of her past, she learns lessons. Among them: Things are seldom what they seem, and though the past may have bearing on today, tomorrow is up to you.
— Dawn Teresa
4 of 5 Hearts. A Bewitchingly Beautiful Tale of Family and Friendship.
As Twig and her new-found friend Julia work together to break a centuries-old curse, they learn just how strong the ties of family, friendship, and love can be.
*Disclosure of Material Connection: I would like to thank Random House Children’s Books and Netgalley for providing me access to this title. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”