Cover Image: Nightbirds


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Member Reviews

This book gave me 1930's vibes with the speakeasy sort of secret magic clubs and female oppression. I liked the premise though the plot felt a little gapped at times. I did enjoy this novel, and I can see a group of teens liking it too.

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I really enjoyed getting lost in the world of the Nightbirds. The setting had some twenties inspired glamor to it. Three very different girls are brought together by a secret they all share. They have magic in a world where magic is outlawed. They can share their gifts with others by giving them a kiss.

The book alternates chapters between the three main characters. Matilde comes from a long line of Nightbirds and has the ability to give someone the ability to look like someone else. Sayer’s mom was a Nightbird too, but she had a fall from grace. Sayer had to grow up fast, which makes her one of the toughest of the Nightbirds, and she can gift people the ability to cloak themselves in shadows. Æsa is the more naïve of the group and the newest recruit. New to Simta, she longs to go back home. She can gift people the ability to charm someone into doing whatever the gift bearer wishes.

The girls are very well taken care of and mostly live a life of luxury. However, trouble is brewing in Simta, and magic haters led by the Red Hand are getting bolder in their attacks. Soon the girls lives are turned upside down and they have to go into hiding. However once they do they find out that they are not the only girls with magic. There are many more. Not only that, but Matilde, Sayer, and Æsa all sense their own powers growing stronger. Will it be enough to stop the Red Hand and set right all the wrongs in their world?

This book was very entertaining and I really enjoyed the characters. Matilde was a little spoiled and she grated on my nerves at time. Sayer was more down to earth but also more hardened to the world due to her upbringing. Æsa was probably my favorite because she was just so genuine a person. She was loving and caring.

Overall I am glad I read the Nightbirds and I cannot wait for the next book.

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"After all, she is not a star made for if only wishes. She’s the kind of star that burns."


Thank you Netgalley and Nancy Paulsen Books for a copy of this book for review purposes. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

I believe I discovered Nightbirds solely from its beautiful cover while browsing on Netgalley, and was interested by the "dazzling new fantasy world full of whispered secrets and political intrigue". I also read this in a physical copy and with an audiobook.

Nightbirds, for the majority of the book, follows three Nightbirds, girls who are paid and protected by high society to give members of the noble families their magic in a world where magic is outlawed. Matilde, a member of high society herself, wants to remain in a magical world that is quickly narrowing down to being married off to the highest bidder. Sayer barely wants to be a part of this world at all, but has nowhere else to go and wants answers from her noble absentee father. Aesa, the newest Nightbird, wants to return home and is desperate to find a way to survive this brand-new world. Can the three of them all achieve their individual goals alone, or will they find there are far more dangerous threats they'll need each other to survive?

Nightbirds feels like a mix of many things: think Serpent and Dove meets a little bit of Caraval/Hotel Magnifique, Six of Crows, and The Handmaid's Tale. The characters reminded me of Six of Crow, especially in the way they were all so different but had to work with one another in a found family sort of trope, along with multiple side characters who were just as vital to the story along the way. There was plenty of romantic subplots, but they weren't the focus of the characters or their story either.

The atmosphere was top tier!! I believe it was inspired by the 1920s Prohibition Era, and was full of masquerades, hidden identities, and high society-type vibes. This is the part that reminded me a bit of Caraval and Hotel Magnifique. The world is full of hidden magic, but in a way that mostly felt like part of the aesthetic.

I adored the writing in this book, too. There were too many quotes I liked that I struggled to even pick one for this review! I will certainly read book 2 of this series, but I think I would easily a try a book by Armstrong in any other genre with very little hesitation.

The plot was very reminiscent of Serpent & Dove with the witches versus the witch hunters. The magic system is different, but the FMC narrator was even the same in both books! I really enjoyed the narration here as well. It also had a dash of The Handmaid's Tale as the Nightbirds are mostly treated as property, expected to give their magic away to people who won't allow others to have magic (reminded me of the book/magazine scene in THT if you've read it) and are then expected to do nothing else but marry and provide heirs.

This could be due to misreading, but I found the weakest part of Nightbirds to be the logic of the magic system. I am really into elemental magic in fantasy, but felt as though I never had a full grasp on what abilities each person was capable of. I thought each character had a specific elemental power, but then I thought I read a character using a second element twice throughout the story with no explanation?

In total, I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading Fyrebirds whenever it's released! I would recommend this book to readers who love atmospheric reads, hidden identities, high society type, complex relationship dynamics, and found families!

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i’m writing this opening part about 60% into the book. i can for almost certain tell you i’m going to forget anything about this book in about 3 days.

y’all, there are so many perspectives, all muddled together. they’re not all that particularly different in voice. nor do we know who’s the character we’re following from any written indication. it makes my brain swim to catch up, and then we often move onto the next perspective by then… i genuinely would like to know the reason for writing it like this. and besides giving each of the many characters one (1) personality trait that they grab on for dear life, i genuinely wouldn’t have been able to discern who’s who. (and honestly i didn’t i swear like five characters popped up in the middle of the story and apparently we knew them???)

besides that absolute mess of a style choice, the actual pace and lack of commentary in this book says it all. it feels to me like the author had a unique concept and setting and then just threw everything at the wall. she included all these perspectives that were completely unnecessary, and the goal of the story itself got convoluted in the middle. to me, it really seems like a few more passes should’ve been made to trim the story down from nearly 500 pages. there was no reason for this story to have taken us that long, and i personally feel like it accomplished nothing. to say, finishing the book was my favorite part would be an unfortunate truth. it just was not at all as well constructed as i was hoping.

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Im slowly trying to be a fantasy girl and the Nightbirds is an amazing book on that journey. The book is just as stunning as its cover.

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This one was a slow start for me. I read the first 60ish% and then put it down for a few weeks. It’s not usually the best sign if I read more than half and then find myself not wanting to finish immediately.

That being said, the last 40% really did pick up. I’m excited to continue this series and read more from this author.


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Oh! So, this was epic. First off, the cover!!! Gorgeous.

Also, burning down systems that fail us?!? Yes please!!! Following these girls is a treasure and I'm so eager to keep going.

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This book was slow to start, but ultimately good. I liked getting to know each character, and seeing their powers and the revolution evolve. I also liked the love stories throughout it. I will be reading the next book, absolutely. I will say the paper book was REALLY hard to get into because of how slow it was, and so I had to get the audiobook. I definitely recommend that in regards to this book, unless you like slow, character driven books.

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Thank you to Penguin Teen for an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

This had some surprise queers and I LOVE that for me!!

Nightbirds is a 1920s esque fantasy about girls with secret magic. Not only is their magic illegal, but it's highly sought after. We follow four girls as they deal with their powers and find out their magic is more than they were ever taught.

I really loved this book and the world it created. It was so atmospheric and the writing just transports you to a different world. Sayer was 100% my favorite. She's queer and a bit feral and very over all the "rules" of high society. Basically my kind of girl! As things were untangled, I was so excited to learn this is a series. I need more answers and I can't wait to find out what happens in the sequels!

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1.5 stars. Maybe the real treasure was me not DNFing along the way!

I really wanted to love this book. I used to be a mega YA fantasy fan — I truly devoured them all: Throne of Glass, Red Queen, The Jewel (from The Lone City Trilogy), the entire empire of Shadowhunters books. And while I haven't been in too much of a high fantasy mood in a while, I've found myself itching for one. I expected this book to be engaging — empowering, even. Unfortunately, it was neither.

I found this book to be incredibly pretentious and insignificant. What I wanted from this book — what I think any good fantasy book should do — is bring attention to timely topics in in and outside the book itself. Sure, some books are written more with the intention of whisking you away into another world, but if you are going to write an intolerant fantasy world full of harmful religious rhetoric in the year 2023, you need to have the awareness of what is happening in the world around you. When you don't even acknowledge the flaws in the arguments for intolerance you present? That's how your book can come across as insensitive and out-of-touch.

I am a queer teenager living in Florida in 2023, so I am not a stranger to people, both leaders and neighbors, using religion to police the bodies and rights of individuals, especially women. There was so much room in this book to question bodily autonomy of women. Nightbirds is written within the context of a world that outlaws magic and demonizes women who are born with the gift of it within themselves.

We should have been given the space to question why religious leaders are given authority, who has the right to speak for the "gods" in this world, how religious texts can be misconstrued and ultimately corrupted to fit someone's prejudiced views. But we weren't.

And beyond this glaring issue, I also had a lot of trouble falling into the world and caring about the characters and the stakes they were facing. There are three main girls followed in this book: Matilde, Sayer, and Æsa. All three have magic, all three are in the business of giving away pieces of it in exchange for money, all three face hardship in some way before the book and/or during.

But none of them changed throughout the entirety of the novel. Not in any significant way, at least. Matilde remained infuriatingly privileged and disassociated from the world around her. Sayer (one of the only characters I could somewhat stand) was still hot-headed and horrible at communication. Æsa remained impressionable and largely ignorant of new perspectives.

The thing is? None of these characters are new. We've seen these character stereotypes presented over and over again in fantasy. The privileged brat, the street orphan, the naive girl who is largely unaware of her inherent beauty. And honestly, they've been done better in other series, such as Red Queen or The Lone City. The same criticisms go for the magic system — it wasn't anything new or especially impressive.

Also, I'm not sure if it was something with my eARC copy specifically or if this was fixed in the final book, but there was absolutely no indication of a perspective shift, so I spent many paragraphs confused and having to reread to figure out who was thinking or acting in that moment. And OH MY GOD, I cannot take you seriously when you call your father "sire" and mother "dame."

I know there is a sequel coming out, and the book did indeed end on a cliffhanger, but I am severely lacking the motivation to see this story to its end. I simply do not care enough about the characters or this world. I will not be continuing this series, and I do not recommend it.

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This books is supposed to be prohibition/flapper themed but with magic being outlawed except the execution left much to be desired. The magic system is convoluted, the constant POV switch within the chapters is dizzying, and the addition of religious motive needed to be explained more!

I honestly ended up skimming this and was just proud of myself for reaching the end LMAO

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Why aren’t more people talking about this book?!!?

BOY OH BOY do I LOVE a feminine rage novel. LOOOOOVE it. This one hit all of the right points for me. The anger. The deception. The feminine communal power. Give me more, please!

My only complaint is that I have to wait for a sequel! I need it now.

The magic system and overall fantasy world aren’t overwhelming, which is nice. I wouldn’t mind a little bit more world-building, but I felt like this book does a great job of it in general. If you’re hoping to get into fantasy, this would be a great one to start with. It’s not confusing or too in-depth at all.

The thing I liked the most about this book was how the power the girls hold is amplified together rather than apart. I think it symbolizes the power in real life that we hold when we act together rather than apart.

Alsoooooooo, I am rooting for Alec so, so much. I had to put that out there. Hardcore ship him and Matilde. It’s going to drive me bonkers waiting for the sequel to see what happens with them. Same thing for Fen and Sayer. Æsa and Willan. I could use a whole book on building Æsa and Willan’s relationship, truly.

Highly highly highly recommend. It’s been a second since I’ve been so immersed in a fantasy novel, and this one was truly a delight. Thank you PenguinTeen and NetGalley for the eARC!

My review is live on Goodreads and will be posted to Bookstagram the week of 05/15!

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The audiobook is narrated by Saskia Maarleveld with precision for each character that walked through the pages. This is not a small book nor is it a small character base. Maarleveld held too character voices and emotion wonderfully.

From the audio narration to the cover detail to the stunning map artwork, this is a beautifully presented novel. Armstrong effortlessly created a magical underworld of transferable magic and the women who harness these elemental gifts they're slowly learning to discover more about.

Even after I finished, my initial reaction towards the atmosphere still stands. It feels like a captivating mixture of glitzy flapper days and Regency feminine requirements.The heroines of this novel each have flaws and deeply rooted character depth that blossoms as they come together in strength and friendship. I really enjoyed the sisterly "witchy" bond of the characters alongside their different backgrounds and their secrets.

The plot moves at a steady pace as the reader watches the games of the political and the powerful unfold. The ritualistic portions of the Caske, the fight for freedom, the truth behind the magic are catching plot points that kept me entertained. I will admit I found myself wandering at the length though. Minor moments where I would think it could end but something moved it a notch forward. One minor standout in an otherwise utterly lush narrative.

I would recommend this beauty in a heartbeat to readers who love magical novels that are not weighed down in romantic squabbles or overdone inner monologue. Armstrong hit this one right out of the park. Stunning inside and out.

Special thank you to PRH Audio for the immersive listening copy, Nancy Paulsen Books for the digital copy and Bookishfirst for the shelfworthy physical copy! The perfect book to use my collected points on! True rating 4.5/5.

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Beautiful fantasy starring several powerful and magical ladies. In the world of Nightbirds, magic is illegal... unless you can afford to break the rules. Matilde, Aesa, and Sayer are the newest crop of Nightbirds, girls with magical gifts that can be bestowed upon others with a kiss. They are a well kept secret of the Great Houses; their identities are hidden behind masks, and their gifts given only to those who can afford them. This is necessary because the church, led by the Pontifex, sees magic (especially when used by women) as blasphemous. Secrets can't be kept forever though, and lives are at stake when this one comes out. Sayer's close friend/maybe more than friend, Fen is the sole female gang lord in Simta, hiding secrets of her own. As their powers grow, and their worlds are turned upside down, these girls will have to decide what kind of future they want to fight for. A gilded cage is still a cage.

This 1920s-esque world was beautifully described. The magic system intrigues me, and I feel that there's a lot of potential for future books in the series to dig even deeper into the magical lore of this world. I loved the sister-like bond that the girls shared. Each of the protagonists has distinct motivations, and you feel for each of them in different ways. Stories where girls fight for the power they deserve always appeal to me, and this one didn't disappoint. The ending will leave you wanting more. Loved this debut.

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The cover is what drew me to the book. Debut read that I shall say was an ok read although it was a bit slow for me. Took me awhile to get through but nonetheless it was a decent read

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This book was okay.

That’s all, nothing notably bad or wrong with the premise or its storytelling, but it failed to have any real impact.

The story itself felt too monotonous and predictable. The magic system wasn’t anything revolutionary, the use of the Chosen One troupe felt a little tired and overall it’s conclusion felt unsatisfactory.

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This was really atmospheric. The setting was really well-described and I felt like I was right there with the characters. However, I did have a bit of an issue with the way the story was told. While there were three main characters, I felt like we didn't get to know all of them equally. I wanted to care about all of them the same amount, but I just couldn't. It felt like there was something missing from the story that kept me from fully investing in the characters and their journeys. I think part of the problem was that there was a certain detachment to the story. I'm not sure if it was the writing or the pacing or something else entirely, but I just didn't feel as emotionally invested in the characters as I usually do with books. Overall, I would still recommend this book if you're looking for an atmospheric read with an interesting setting, but just be aware that you might not connect with the characters as much as you'd like to.

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Thank you to the publisher and Bookish First for a finished copy of this book!

The Nightbirds are the best-known secrets of the town-- girls with magic powers, that can bestow some magic upon you with a single kiss. But magic is prohibited and when the religious rulers become canny to the girls' abilities, they are in grave danger. And as they stop giving their powers away, they begin to realize they can use them for themselves.

Love the 1920's vibes of this book! Very reminiscent of Fire Becomes Her which I love so A++ for that one. There are 3-4 pov characters in this book--3 for most of it. I read the audiobook and think it could have been much improved by having separate narrators for the separate character chapters, but the voices became more distinct as I got to know the girls.

Sayer is my favorite because she is queer. That's all it takes. She's also badass and interesting and dynamic and I love that she questions things the entire time.

Mathilde is probably my second favorite, though I like all of them fine. I think the different characters bring a good balance to this book!

The ending felt a little weak to me compared to the rest of this. I guess it didn't feel as well developed or maybe a bit rushed? But this is a series (apparently!!!!) So I will definitely be back for more when the next book comes out. And hopefully the cover is just as gorgeous!

Confinement, Death of parent, Fire/Fire injury
Moderate, Violence, Religious bigotry
Minor, sexual assault, Sexual harassment, Child abuse

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I have tried to read this book five separate times, and no matter my mental state, orwhat books I read before it, I cannot get past the first 50 pages. I plan to come back to this title in a few months, and hopefully, I can break through this boundary then because this does sound right up my alley. For now, I just need to move on and give this book and I some space.

I'm going to rank it as a middle 3 stars because I do not have enough context to properly rate it anything higher or lower.

Thank you Penguin Teen and NetGalley for the eARC. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Thank you to Penguin Teen and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book!

I really enjoyed this book. I won't give any spoilers here beyond the basic concept of the book, but the concept and the magic system were pretty interesting, and I liked the characters. I especially liked Sayer and Fen; they were a little more complex than some of the others and I'm looking forward to seeing where their storylines go in the next book.

I'm normally not a huge fan of plots where there's witch-hunter vibes but this was done well. The government/society was complicated enough that it kept the story interesting and it could go multiple ways.

I'll definitely read the next book when it comes out -- I'm curious to see what happens!

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