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OTHER BIRDS by Sarah Addison Allen

Between the real and the imaginary, there are stories that take flight in the most extraordinary ways.

Right off the coast of South Carolina, on Mallow Island, The Dellawisp sits—a stunning old cobblestone building shaped like a horseshoe, and named after the tiny turquoise birds who, alongside its human tenants, inhabit an air of magical secrecy.

When Zoey comes to claim her deceased mother’s apartment on an island outside of Charleston she meets her quirky and secretive neighbors, including a girl on the run, two estranged middle-aged sisters, a lonely chef, a legendary writer, and three ghosts. Each with their own story. Each with their own longings. Each whose ending isn’t yet written.

Title : Other Birds
Author : Sarah Addison Allen
Format : eARC
Page Count : 304
Genre : contemporary romance / magical realism
Publisher : St. Martin’s Griffin
Release Date : August 30, 2022

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ .5

Hollis’ 2.5 star review

It’s been such a long time since I’ve picked up a novel by SAA and I was so hoping that Other Birds would feel like so many of this author’s previous works — magical, delicious, and full of wonder. And while there is some deliciousness, and a little bit of magical, it wasn’t quite wonderful. And, combined, it didn’t quite pack the punch I expected.

Initially, this story doesn’t do much to draw the reader in. I found the voice of (what I presumed to be, and was later wrong) the MC to be a little off and not very engaging. And the same could be said for the other POVs, which was something of a disappointment. As is typical for me, though, the one perspective I liked the most was the one we had the least.

I think what works against this offering is that the found family element doesn’t feel realistic. This group of motley misfits, living in this condo complex, on a small island, are drawn together by proximity and a few strange events and things quickly escalate in a way that doesn’t feel quite believable; which is kind of funny because I was absolutely onboard with the magical part of the story.

I think, had this been given a little more time to breathe, the page count been a little longer, it might have fleshed things out more. But maybe it’s supposed to be a snapshot. It’s something of a beginning for these characters, or a reset, or a new chapter, and there’s something hopeful in that, in letting go and moving on. But as a reader (or at least, for this one) it’s also a little unsatisfying.

Having said that, I’m very glad to see SAA pop up after such a long time (her last release was 2015!) and I do hope there’s more to come. I would absolutely recommend you check out her backlist if magical realism is at all in your wheelhouse.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


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