From the acclaimed author of Garden Spells comes an enchanting tale of lost souls, lonely strangers, 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 is 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 is 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.
I rarely re-read books in ARC form (I wait until I have the final copy in hand), but I re-read this one. I’ve been waiting for a new story from Sarah Addison Allen for a long time. I found her earlier books beautiful, evocative, and soothing. Other Birds is all that and more.
The thread of mothers and daughters that winds through this tale is what hooked me, I think. Allen gives us a flawed protagonist striking out on her own for the first time and trying to learn more about the mother she doesn’t remember. She begins her new life in a place her mother loved, where she encounters other sorts of mothers and daughters and sons, all with complicated maternal relationships.
Allen weaves a rich and gentle story about ordinary people living seemingly ordinary lives, who are touched by magic for just a little while. The stories and their many pathways circle around, duck under, and weave back in to create a bubble of a world that is full of love, regret, and hope.
One of the best of the year.