The Secret of Nightingale Wood ▪ Book Review

Hi y’all. I decided to post my very first book review here on my site. I’ll try my best to do so spoiler-free.

Quick Background:

I have loved reading ever since the young age of 4 all through uni years. Then after it has become an on and off hobby (because sadly, there’s not enough hours in the day). But I picked it back up last month and I managed to get in a good read the last two days. And then I tossed the idea back and forth whether or not I should write a book review.

I finally pushed myself to do it.

So here I am. I’ll be reviewing the book that had been sitting in my shelf for quite the while and that managed to keep me sitting on the edge of my seat, within the first few sentences.

The Secret of Nightingale Wood

This book is written by the author: Lucy Strange. This happens to be her first book and she managed to do a superb job. Her writing is interesting and flows so well.

Setting: 1919 – London; Countryside: Hope House & Nightingale Wood
Protagonist: Henrietta a.k.a. Henry (12 yrs old)

Summary: Her family moves out of London (to the countryside) to try and rebuild their lives after a tragic death in the family occurs. A tragedy that tears them apart. The family struggles to move on; each isolated in their private griefs which are greatly captured throughout. This all becomes a quest for young Henry to bring restoration to her family.

Themes: This book touches enormous subjects and handles complex emotional issues. Depression, mental health issues, grief, fear, loneliness, anger, and the treatment of such illnesses with shell-shock. With minor themes incorporated of motherhood and gender inequality. Henry isn’t only forced to become a heroine, she can also be viewed as an early feminist.

Textual Analysis: The book illustrates a broken family torn apart as each day passes due to loss of a loved one. Grief and depression overfill the book making it dark and painfully tense. Left in the hands of young Henry and the power love she has for her family to make it “right” / “whole” again. Despite the darkness, Strange makes odes to fairytales by weaving them in the story. This addition makes it magical and adds sparks of color to the story. It gives little Henry hope as well as to the reader.

The heavy topics such as the shell-shock treatment of depression and mental health issues weigh it down. Many readers have stated they wished it didn’t have “so much of it.”  I differ. Keep in mind the time this book takes place is in the 1900s. Although the treatment seems cruel and illegal, when compared to today’s standards, it is a truth from that century. Many endured such treatments. I’m actually glad Strange didn’t hide or sugarcoat any of it in her book. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way from those experiments.

The text explores madness due to loss. Each character is a damaged soul. In their brokeness each has to cope with their private grief. Fighting to find healing and wisdom, others sedated by the harsh reality and drugs, while others flee. Which makes it realistic.

Length: Short chapters. Sometimes just a page or two. Making this an easy and fast read.

My Review: A book so beautifully crafted, it sings! Rich with imagery and emotion makes it such a delight to read. It managed to flow into my bloodstream in an amazing maner. The author captures the magic and mystery of the nightingale wood and illustrates each character intricately. Henry and her power love for her family, is not only what holds the story together, it also held me attached to the book. That is a trait I value deeply. This book made me cry, smile, and even get furious at the “villians.” This definately is an unusual, yet carefully crafted mixture of The Secret Garden and The Yellow Wallpaper. A story that is clever and haunting and manages to still be buzzing around in my thoughts even weeks after reading it. I didn’t want this eerie, magical, and heartwarming book to end. 4outof5


Lessons Learned: It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be heartbroken and devasted. It’s normal to blame yourself for an event that broke your heart, but it isn’t your fault. It’s okay to miss someone so much you can’t get out of bed. It’s okay, not to be okay.

Favorite Quote: “Grief is just amputated love.” Possibly because it’s emotional significance made me cry. And it resonated many truths.

If you haven’t read this book already, check it out!