The Nightjar, by Deborah Hewitt, is a fantasy set in present-day England. The main character, Alice Wyndham, discovers that she has a gift. She can see invisible birds, known as nightjars, which reveal the innermost secrets of a person’s soul. After meeting Crowley, she discovers that there exists an organisation within the magical world, run by Vince Kelligan, who know about her gift. Her best friend, Jen, winds up in a coma as a result of this and Crowley is the person to warn her of what she must do to protect her gift and rescue her friend.
As the story continues, the plot takes many twists and turns, with Crowley not being all as he seems. Alice meets other aviarists like herself, who teach her to use her gift and they go on to become her friends. But the relationship between her and Crowley is awkward and complicated, with lots of mixed emotions and tied loyalties.
As much as I liked this story, it is one I would have to read again to fully absorb the plot. I find certain kinds of fantasy, whilst enjoyable, more complex to read and often understand the story better the second time I read it. However, I really liked Alice and Crowley’s characters and watching their relationship unfold. Whilst romance was a light feature in the story, it was not the focal point. Their bond was very indicative of how it would play out in real life. They share the same awkward character traits and I enjoyed watching their story unfold.
I also really liked the plot twists within the story. Even towards the end, Hewitt doesn’t shy away from unsettling the reader and adding another unexpected element to the plot. It keeps the story rich and engaging. I found myself sympathising a lot with Alice as after overcoming one hurdle, she is immediately faced with another.
If I have one slight criticism of the book, it would be some of the descriptions. Some are a little cliche and telling where actions would be far more effective in conveying the emotions expressed.
Although for me, it requires a second read, I recommend this book to other fantasy readers. I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review, but the book is now available on Amazon.