Thank you so much to St. Martin’s Press for the gorgeous finished copy of Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen!
From my favorite non-SFF genre, this is a wonderful magical realism book about stories, secrets, acceptance, and the ghosts we hold onto. It’s packed full of great characters and themes that I love.
This comes with my apologies as I should have read and reviewed it already but had a terrible incident of dog vs. marshmallow from the press box (she is ok now!) and needed a little time.
So let’s look at the book, which I am highly recommending for new adult readers and all fans of magical realism!
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Other Birds
- Series: N/A
- Author: Sarah Addison Allen
- Publisher & Release: St. Martin’s Press, 08/30/22
- Length: 290 pages
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐✨
Here’s the synopsis:
From the acclaimed author of Garden Spells comes an enchanting tale of lost souls, lonely strangers, secrets that shape us, and how the right flock can guide you home.
Down a narrow alley in the small coastal town of Mallow Island, South Carolina, lies a stunning cobblestone building comprised of five apartments. It’s called The Dellawisp and it is named after the tiny turquoise birds who, alongside its human tenants, inhabit an air of magical secrecy.
When Zoey Hennessey comes to claim her deceased mother’s apartment at The Dellawisp, she meets her quirky, enigmatic neighbors including a girl on the run, a grieving chef whose comfort food does not comfort him, two estranged middle-aged sisters, and three ghosts. Each with their own story. Each with their own longings. Each whose ending isn’t yet written.
When one of her new neighbors dies under odd circumstances the night Zoey arrives, she is thrust into the mystery of The Dellawisp, which involves missing pages from a legendary writer whose work might be hidden there. She soon discovers that many unfinished stories permeate the place, and the people around her are in as much need of healing from wrongs of the past as she is. To find their way they have to learn how to trust each other, confront their deepest fears, and let go of what haunts them.
Delightful and atmospheric, Other Birds is filled with magical realism and moments of pure love that won’t let you go. Sarah Addison Allen shows us that between the real and the imaginary, there are stories that take flight in the most extraordinary ways.
So the synopsis is absolutely dead on as far as what the book is about, and I have nothing else to add to the summary. Other Birds is full of both literal and figurative ghosts with a touch of magic throughout. It’s not quite a GrimDarkTober read but I love it for autumn.
Zoey has moved to Mallow Island before college starts and meets the inhabitants of her mother’s old residence. There’s a reclusive author, small little birds with big personalities, and three ghosts hanging around. There’s a lot more too but it’s worth discovering on your own.
I loved the characters. Each had a lot of childhood trauma in different forms and as they grew up, hoarded love where they could find it. Everyone was broken in some way and I don’t always love books like this but I did like how Zoey brought everyone at The Dellawisp together and eventually they all found a lot of individual closure.
The theme of letting go to old loves and making room for new ones was touching and I have to give the book 1/2 of a bonus star for making me tear up. (If anyone remembers my infamous bonus system: real tears is +1 star, watery eyes is +1/2 star, real laughter is +1 star, chuckles is 1/2 star. Basically make me feel something and I give bonus stars). What really got me was the point about how on whatever level of abuse occurs, whether it’s horrendous neglect, physical, or just not having a place in your own family for whatever reason – sometimes it’s better to leave and find your own people.
The other high point was that the book maintained a level of mystery and and ongoing discovery that kept me interested. Who was prowling around at night? What was really going on with these characters – including the ghosts? It kept itself interesting and the reveals came at a steady pace. Some I never saw coming, some I did, and it was a good mix.
The setting and atmosphere was piled on thick too, but this is one of the most character driven books that I’ve truly enjoyed recently. At the end of the day I had a few issues with how the various points of view were thrown together in each chapter, but I love the third person present tense. It’s an intimate approach and such a generally wholesome book for the new adult like age 18+ readers that I’m just going with 5 stars.
Anyway, here are a few quotes that packed a lot of punch for me:
Stories aren’t fiction. Stories are fabric. They’re the white sheets we drop over our ghosts so we can see them
It made him even more scared of rejection, because who would ever believe in a loneliness so overwhelming that you called upon a ghost to alleviate it?
Overall I highly recommend this one for fans of women’s fiction, magical realism, and new adult readers!
As a bonus: here are the press kit photos I took! Thank you again to the publisher for the book and box and all the support along the way ❤️