From the acclaimed author of Garden Spells comes a tale of lost souls, 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’s 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’s 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.
What’s it about (in a nutshell):
Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen is a moving story about family – those you are born to and those that become one. As was said in the story, “If people around you don’t love you just as you are, find new people. They’re out there.”
Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):
The title intrigues me – Other Birds. What does it mean? I can’t wait to find out. The cover is simplistic, with a birdcage and birds flying around it, but that doesn’t tell me more than the title does. The blurb mentions magical realism and an island off the coast of South Carolina. I love both of those things. And so many characters and secrets – that definitely captivates me.
Actual Reading Experience:
The magical realism surrounding the birds is such a moving aspect of the story, and I just loved it. I can’t say much about it, but I guarantee you would find it as moving as I did.
I especially loved the theme of family. Sometimes the family you are born to just doesn’t give you all the love you deserve. But if that happens, there are still plenty of people who will, and they can become the family of your heart. This is a very heartwarming theme that resonated with me on many different levels.
Other Birds is a character-driven story, and oh, what wonderful characters they are!
Zoey Hennessey is the main character. She is an eighteen-year-old beginning college in the fall and moves into the condo she inherited from her mother, while she waits for school to begin. She is a loving person who has had a rough childhood with a father and stepmother that do not show her anything resembling unconditional love. Her inquisitive nature is charming, and her invisible bird, Pigeon, is very intriguing and gives me the chills.
Zoey’s support characters are the other residents of Dellawisp Condo: Mac Garrett, a chef; Lucy Lime, a shut-in; Elizabeth Lime, a busybody and estranged sister of Lucy Lime; Oliver Lime, Elizabeth’s son who is away looking for a job; Charlotte Lungren, a free spirit and henna artist; and Frasier, the caretaker/manager of the condos.
Each character has secrets, and those secrets are revealed as each learns and grows from their interactions with one another. They become the family that each is sorely in need of.
Narration & Pacing:
Most of the story is told in 3rd person except for the ghost chapters. The ghosts speak directly to the reader in an intimate first-person narration. This is a great touch and an incredibly poignant way to tell the story. The pacing was my least favorite part as it’s more of a medium pace. However, I loved the end, as that was incredibly fast-paced.
Dellawisp Condo on Mallow Island off the coast of South Carolina is the setting. The Dellawisp Condo area is used perfectly and thoughtfully. The rest of the island is not utilized as much, and I would love to have explored it more. Still, the area critical to the story is wonderfully used.
To Read or Not to Read:
If you are looking for a story that will speak to you in profound ways, Other Birds is just that book.
Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
- Originality : ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Writing Quality: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Pace: ⭐⭐💫
- Character Development: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
- ‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
- Use of Setting: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐