cover image The Secret of Nightingale Wood

The Secret of Nightingale Wood

Lucy Strange. Chicken House, $16.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-338-15747-5

Set a year after the end of WWI, this compelling debut places imaginative 12-year-old narrator Henrietta “Hen” Abbott in an impossible situation. After the death of Hen’s brother, her father moves the family from London to the countryside, only to depart to the continent for work, leaving Hen’s mother struggling with mental illness and cared for by a sinister doctor. “Suddenly I felt dangerously alone,” Hen recounts. “Mama was ill and drugged. Father was not here. Doctor Hardy thought I was going mad, and Nanny Jane had become his spy.” She finds solace in the woods and meets a supposed witch (whom she dubs Moth) living in a caravan. The mystery surrounding this woman becomes a central thread, and her character extends needed kindness to Hen, supporting her efforts to save her family. Strange effectively weaves in fairy tales, poetry, and themes common to classic children’s literature, reflecting Hen’s love of books. A brave heroine propels this strong and richly layered novel, a memorable portrait of grief, resilience, and rebirth. Ages 8–12. (Oct.)