Sometimes the cover of a book just demands that you read it, that and all the hype that The Bird Singers has been receiving on social media (and having read it, the hype is more than justified).
Sisters Layah and Izzie are not impressed that their mum has dragged them off to stay at a rain-soaked cottage in the middle of nowhere. The only thing that interests the girls in Lowesdale are the cakes and they intend to work their way through as many of the treats as possible. But then strange and frightening things begin to happen; a puzzling whistling sound, visions of a yellow-eyed lady, dead birds on the doorstep. And when mum begins acting oddly, Layah is determined to unravel the mysterious events and how they are all connected…
The Bird Singers, with its roots firmly set in Polish mythical folklore, is a deliciously dark and thrilling mystery. With bravery and a wonderful sisterly bond at Its heart, it grips from first page to last as Layah and Izzie go on a nail-biting search for the family truths that their mother is determined to hide, or perhaps protect, them from. But sometimes secrets are best kept that way as the truth can tear a family apart and, even worse, lead to a life and death situation and having to deal with a mythical creature from one of Babcia’s books.
I love a suspense-filled read, one that keeps you guessing, feeling rather uncomfortable and never giving you the opportunity to breathe easy and The Bird Singers oozes mystery and intrigue, with things only getting darker and more dangerous with every turn of the page. You don’t know who to trust in this story of spine-tingling magic and closely-guarded secrets and each character only brings more unease and suspense as the holiday in the Lake District quickly takes a sinister turn. I was quite enjoying the girls’ attempts to work their way through as many different cakes as possible but things rapidly turn into something far more chilling and the debate over whether sherbet and raspberry sponge is better than peanut-butter fudge cake has to be put on hold as powerful magic and dark forces surface.
The quaint village of Lowesdale is the idyllic setting for a little family mystery. And this is one place where appearances are definitely deceiving; the peaceful lanes and delightful teahouse and bakery cannot mask the creepy cottages and the quirky residents who talk of the legendary Lowesdale Stranger. Not to mention the birds - both alive and dead, flickering lights, the peculiar school caretaker and strange figures appearing in the garden in the middle of the night. This is not full-on horror but there’s more than enough to keep the pulse racing.
Such is the quality of writing, it is hard to believe that this is Eve Wersocki Morris’ debut children’s book. But a debut book it is and we many only be in January but I already have a feeling that this will be one of the best books that I read this year.
With huge thanks to Hachette Children’s Books for the copy I received in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 9+.