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InstaReview: Other Birds by Sarah Addison Allen

"Stories aren't fiction. Stories are fabric. They're the white sheets we drape over our ghosts so we can see them."

Other Birds is a charming story set on the fictitious Mallow Island; full of cobble stone streets, pastel buildings, and dellawisps - tiny turquoise birds with a sprinkle of magic. The young protagonist, Zoey, arrives on the island the summer before starting college, with her invisible bird in tow. Her destination is a vacant studio her late mother owned at the Dellawisp - an old condominium with some magical properties of its own. On the first night of her arrival, she stays up late and believes she sees someone lurking around with a flashlight. When she wakes up, she is informed that one of the tenants died during the night. The property manager hires Zoey to clean out the condo and look for anything that *might be of value.* When Zoey enters the property, towering stacks of useless paper make it clear that the tenant was a hoarder. After sifting through the hazardous mess, Zoey locks up the condo every evening only to find in unlocked every morning when she returns. After a few days of this mysterious unlocking, she chalks it up to something benign and goes about her day. Throughout her cleaning she befriends her neighbor and they start to unravel a local secret and discover a story long hidden away. Other Birds has been categorized as magical realism, but the only magical aspect was her mysterious, invisible bird and a few ghostly characters. To be fair this book can be devoured in one sitting, so there is enough going to propel the reader forward. However, the novel left us with lukewarm feelings in general.


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