Book Reviews

Book Review: Other Birds

By Sarah Addison Allen

Publication Date:  August 30, 2022

304 Pages

Like a lot of fans, I’ve been waiting a long time for another Sarah Addison Allen novel.  Although not quite like some of her earlier books, Other Birds didn’t disappoint.

Here’s the blurb:  When Zoey graduates from high school, she moves to Mallow Island, SC to claim her inheritance – a condo at The Dellawisp left to her by her mother.  Named for the tiny, larger-than-life turquoise birds who inhabit the courtyard, The Dellawisp is a renovated horse stable tucked away behind the main street.  Both the residence and the island are magical – made famous by a reclusive author and the island’s history of producing marshmallows.

When Zoey arrives, the other residents are standoffish if not outright rude.  Two estranged sisters, a girl running from her past, and a shy chef who can’t let go of the woman who raised him.  But Zoey is determined to make new connections, both with her neighbors and with her mother, whose past is a mystery.  But although some stories aren’t meant to be told, others are waiting to be written.

“Other Birds” interpreted by Wombo Dream

Like a lot of the author’s books, this story is about a collective (a family, a town, etc.) rather than one individual.  In this case, the focus is the residents of the Dellawisp.  They are all running from something and at the same time, allowing their pasts to dictate their present.  By refusing to release their loved ones, the characters create the mystical in this novel, which takes the form of ghosts.  I think that’s the main difference between this book and previous ones – the magical realism isn’t as overt.  There’s no apple tree lobbing fruit at people they don’t like.  No one sparkles at night.  The magical happenings are all due to ghosts (not a spoiler, it’s fairly evident early on in the novel.)

Since it’s their pasts that make up the basis for the current story, the book has a lot of backstory for each character.  Which is fine, it helped me to connect to them.  But when the ghosts told the same backstory, I started skimming since I didn’t feel like their stories added anything new.  This was especially true in the last chapter.  Although it gave me my final “aha” moment (and there were quite a few of those), the repetition of backstory meant, to me, the novel didn’t end on as strong of a note as it could have.

Still, it’s a wonderful novel full of hope and friendship and new beginnings.  For anyone who’s been waiting years for the next Sarah Addison Allen novel, lucky you – your wait is almost over.  Pick this one up.

I rated this novel 4 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin’s Press for providing the ARC copy of this book.  I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

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