Stars: 1.5 out of 5.
Well, this book was a big disappointment, to tell you the truth. I love fairy tales. I love modern retellings of said fairy tales, if they are well done. And that's a big IF. Especially when it comes to retellings of Slavic tales, because they are near and dear to my heart. I grew up with them.
Unfortunately, we don't really have a retelling here of anything. Honestly, if you had switched the Russian names of the main characters to typical English names, the story wouldn't have changed much at all. Peppering the story with typical Russian or Ukrainian dishes or things doesn't build an exotic atmosphere, like the author probably intended. It just served to irritate me.
The biggest problem with this book though is that it has no soul. Sure, the author can write pretty sentences, but that isn't enough to make a good story. The characters feel flat and one-dimensional. Even Valentina, our protagonist whom we spend most of the book with, is extremely boring. I don't know what makes her tick. I don't know what her dreams and fears are. The author tells us she wants to kill the Headmaster of the Bleak Academy because he took something from her, but what he took is described so vaguely, that I still don't understand what the big deal is. So you are made of blood and bones, and you can hear your heart beat. Big deal.
Same goes for the story of her falling in love... with a man she never spoke to, just saw in passing and heard play the piano. Sure, the author tells us that, but there is not a shred of feeling of it in the actual story. There is no feeling in the story at all, to tell you the truth. It's all very dry and soulless, if prettily written.
My other problem is that this world makes no sense. The author mentions that this was the land of eternal darkness until Valentina brought the sun to it and created the separation between night and day. Okay, I can get on board with that, but explain to me how this works? How do people grow crops in darkness? How do they survive without night and day? How do they travel about? Where do they get all the resources necessary to light their town? How do animals and trees survive there?
See, real fairy tales always have an inner logic and a rigid set of rules, no matter how fantastical those rules seem compared to our world. And characters, monsters, and even natural events follow those rules. In this book though, the rules are never explained, so the reasons behind why some things happen are very nebulous and often make no sense. If I can't make sense of that's happening, I won't be invested in the story.
To summarize, don't bother with this book if you like fairy tale retellings. There are much better books out there. Like Greymist Fair by Francesca Zappia, for example.
PS: I received an advanced copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me access to the free advanced digital copy of this book.
A fascinating and unique composition of Slavic-inspired tales, woven together into one incredible book. Both bizarre and brilliant all at once.
Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced copy of this book! While several components of this story fascinated me, I unfortunately DNF'd it at 44%.
The pacing just moved too slowly for too much of the book. While I appreciate a strong build-up, I needed a little bit more payoff throughout the book to keep my interest.
The premise and world-building were really intriguing, but they weren't enough to ground me in the story and make me want to continue. Perhaps I'll pick it up and give it another try when I've had more time to think on it.
I really wanted to like this book-- I was drawn in by the cover and the premise, but the execution fell flat for me. It was very hard to stay engaged with the characters and keep track of the plot, so ultimately I ended up having to DNF this book about a hundred pages in. Maybe with shorter chapters the pacing might have flowed better.
With that being said, I do think that other readers who enjoy more whimsical writing that focuses less on the plot/characters and more on building a unique atmosphere could like this book!
Thank you for the opportunity to read this book and leave my honest feedback!
DNF at 30%. I was waiting for the story to pick up but the pacing stayed the same. The chapters were too long to the point I found myself daydreaming. I may have been in the wrong mental state to read this, but I don't know if I liked it enough to try again. I know someone out there adored this book.
Thank you to NetGalley for this ARC. All opinions expressed are my own.
This was unfortunately not for me. I've been struggling with it for months and months, I love the Slavic inspired setting, but whew boy the pacing just wasn't working for me. At one point I'd made some good progress and finally felt invested in the current chapter. I finished it and realized I was only about 11% through the book and felt despair. This is a dreamy, character driven novel but I just didn't connect with any of the characters. I'm sure it'll find it's audience though!
I did not finish this book on account of not knowing what the hell was going on. There was no background and you're kind of just thrust into the middle of a story where none of the characters are explained. It was funny at times though.
Really intriguing premise and cover, the story itself fell a little short. It was still a good read but the pacing was a little slow. I still enjoyed the book though and if you're a fan of magic and folklore. The magic elements were cool as well as the story itself, I just wish it was paced a little better.
Thank you NetGalley for this early copy of the book.
I will admit I started to have a bit of trouble getting through this but the imagery, the idea and the writing style were great.
*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review*
While this synopsis interested me, I just couldn't get into the writing style. It's not for me. I was really excited about the story but it fell flat for me and I wish it didn't. The chapters are also huge, and I don't think I'm meant for that long of chapters. It's sad because the cover drew me in! It's such a pretty cover.
We love a good fantasy, and I've been meaning to look into more Slavic-origined things. But the writing style was really the thing that caught my attention. I'm a sucker for good writing, so reading this was an utter joy -- it felt like I was indulging in all my favorite foods and desserts with every single turn of the page.
What a wonderful experience! I can't recommend this enough.
Dnf at 26%
It's not the book's faults. It's me. It was too long and i can't focus on reading long texts in digital format. I'll buy the book in the future and complete it. I adored the writing style, the plot idea and the characters.
(Thank you NetGalley for a copy of this book. To the best of my knowledge, it doesn't affect my feelings on it.)
The Night-Bird's Feather feels more like a set of fairy tales or a legendarium than anything else. Connected stories about a few core characters, but told as though we've been hearing about them since childhood. ...Except more likely to be about the unfair weight of expectations on children or the philosophy of perception.
The sentence-and-paragraph level structure of the book was by turns musical and challenging, and while I enjoyed it and mostly felt I understood, I also wanted to dive back into the first chapter right after I finished, to see what my greater understanding would reveal. But it didn't grab me and drag me through like a more approachable book might, and took me a while to finish.
The cover and description of this book drew me in, but it really wasn’t for me. I didn’t find that this book engaged me at all, and in fact I found the tone and world somewhat off-putting. I’m not familiar with Slavic folklore so I’m not sure how much of this book is based on existing characters or the author’s own interpretations, but either way I really wasn’t expecting a bird to become a witch and be the main villain of the story?? And if that had been in the description I never would have picked up this book. I tried to give it a chance, but I’m someone who hates to stop reading in the middle of a chapter and these chapters were just way too long. 8 chapters in a 500+ page book is just not enough, especially when the pacing is slow.
I DNF’d this book at 10% because I just wasn’t really enjoying it and I really had no motivation to pick it back up again. If this book had been shorter I might have tried to finish it just to see where it went, but I couldn’t see myself getting through another 450 pages.
*Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Night-Bird's Feather - 3/5
I am not 100 percent sure how to feel about this book. I loved the story line, but I don't think it was well written in way for readers to stay engaged and keep us wanting more.
The storyline follows Valentina and her family, who has been at the mercy of a witch who has forced her family into an enchanted sleep. As the story continues it comes across as a bunch of short stories thrown together, leaving us wondering where it will all end up and if it will piece together cohesively to give us an ending we understand. I honestly feel like this is the sort of story that benefit and be more understood with a 2nd read and annotations.
Thank you NetGalley for the ARC.
It took me much longer to read this than expected, not because I wasn't enjoying it but because I wanted to savour every word. I'm not familiar enough with Slavic fairytales to know whether this drew on existing characters or if it's a world of the author's own creation, but either way it felt like stepping into an epic mythological tale. Really new and fresh.
I liked The Night Bird's Feather.
It was well written and I did enjoy the characters.
The only reason I'm giving it a 3 star is that I found some sections of the book were quite slow and hard to get through.
Thank you Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
ARC from Netgalley.
As some other reviewers have noted, this wasn't for me. I thought the description sounded really interesting, but the style and tone put me off. Others may well love this type of book, but I didn't warm to it. This may well be the kind of book you have to read slowly and savour it, and that's not my reading style at the moment. I can't trash the book though, because I think it's a thoughtful sort of book - I'm not panning it because it was too simplistic or badly written. Just not my taste.
I have come back a few times to try and read this book but it keeps losing me. Either the concepts are too complicated, or the execution is. Which is a shame, because I think the idea has a lot of potential. I tried starting again twice and still got lost. If I manage it a third time, I will change my review, but for now, DNF.