On My Bookshelf: The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt

Title: The Nightjar
Author: Deborah Hewitt
Genre: Fantasy, Myth
My Rating: 2/5

Alice, who has been terrified of birds her whole life, discovers that she can see the nightjar on each person’s shoulder–the mythical bird that guards the soul. That makes Alice an aviarist, one of the rarest descendants of the fae. When Alice’s best friend is hit by a car, a mysterious stranger named Crowley tells her that she is the only one who can save her friend. Crowley whisks her away to a magical realm where Alice must learn to harness her powers, even as an anti-magic organization is hunting her down.

I wanted so badly to like this book. The concept was amazing–a nightjar guards each soul?! Sign me up! It was a myth I hadn’t heard before and I was ready to fall in love… Instead, I ended up frustrated, infuriated, and disappointed.

Setting aside the innumerable plot issues, the main character, Alice, is entirely unlikable. She might be the stupidest person I’ve ever read about. She consistently trusts the wrong people and can’t seem to tell when others are lying to her, even though that’s part of her “power.” She asks no questions about any of the fantastical things that are happening to her, and is incapable of planning even five minutes into the future. Not everyone has to be ridiculously smart, but Alice made such poor choices–over and over–that I couldn’t take it. I kept saying, “stick it out; surely it has to get better.” It did not. Alice has no growth arc whatsoever.

***SPOILERS FOLLOW***

Alice’s forced romance with Crowley is entirely unbelievable, especially considering he lied to her through the entire story. Additionally, Alice’s entire motivation is to save her friend. Turns out, her friend was fine the whole time! …Until you get to the last few pages of the book and the friend is brutally murdered in front of Alice for basically no reason. Talk about jarring and pointless..There were a lot more issues than this, including a convoluted plot and way too many extra characters. I am generally very forgiving, and I could have overlooked most of these issues if the character(s) had been remotely compelling. If I went in time to decide whether to read this book for the first time, I would not.

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