Nightbirds by Kate J Armstrong

9781760526900Title: Nightbirds (Nightbirds #1)
Author: Kate J Armstrong
Published: February 28, 2023
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Young Adult
Rating: ★★★★
RRP: $24.99

I received a copy of Nightbirds from the publishers for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Magic may be illegal in Simta, but you can find it if you know which whispers to heed. None as tantalising as the ones about the Nightbirds, Simta’s best kept secret. These privileged girls have the ability to gift their magic to others with a kiss – something the church would have them killed for. But protected by the Great Houses, their identities safe behind masks, the Nightbirds are well-guarded treasures.

Matilde, Æsa, and Sayer spend their nights bestowing their unique brands of magic to well-paying clients. But this Season’s Nightbirds find themselves at the heart of a political scheme that threatens their secrets and their safety. When they discover that their magic is far more than they were ever told, they see the carefully crafted Nightbird system for what it is: a gilded cage.

Now they must make a choice – to remain kept birds or take control, remaking the city that dared to clip their wings.

Filled with sumptuous, cinematic writing and dazzling details, Nightbirds is a fiercely feminist fantasy debut where the most potent magic lies not in a kiss, but in the truth.

Nightbirds is a young adult political thriller about three girls who have the ability to gift ‘magic’ to a recipient via a kiss for the price of a secret. Their existence is a well known, but guarded, secret amongst the elite in their world, because magic has been outlawed and should anyone uncover their identities, everything they’ve built would come crashing down.

This is the world of Matilde, Sayor and Æsa – three girls with powerful magic, who find themselves caught up in a game of politics, intrigue and danger . Their magic is seen as blasphemous by many, and as a commodity by many more, and despite the power the weave, are still bound by society’s expectations of women. Their pasts, experiences and societal status aside, the girls must work together to survive in a world that would see them fail.

Nightbirds is a fascinating young adult story – it reminded me a lot of The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton in a lot of ways – with three very different protagonists all trying to make their way in the world. They all have different motivations and upbringings that often brings them into conflict, especially when their neatly ordered world begins to crumble and they have to rely on one another and a host of other ‘allies.’ There’s a lot of world building and – being a political fantasy – a lot of detail into the how’s and why’s of the premise, so it’s not a fast read, but definitely one you could sink your teeth into.

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