HomeAll postsNightbirds by Kate Armstrong

Nightbirds by Kate Armstrong

A review by Nalini Haynes

Nightbirds are teenage girls who sell magical abilities via a kiss. They are daughters of the Great Houses, protected by their privilege from the church that wants them dead. These three Nightbirds are Matilda, a Great House daughter; Saya, a bastard daughter of a disgraced Nightbird and a Great House lord; and Aeso, a girl from a village on a distant island.

The arrogance of youth, belief in their immortality (not literal, the normal attitude of the young), and their desire for freedom breed carelessness and conflict.

Innocence and naivety render them vulnerable to blackmail and a target of the church’s terrorist arm.

No, this isn’t reality. This is a fantasy but with all too real factions.


The varied backgrounds of these girls from different races and classes enriches Nightbirds. Each telling their own story brings depth while Armstrong entwines their stories, weaving them together into a rich tapestry. Armstrong’s use of third person enables multiple points of view without confusion, immersing readers in her riveting story.

The verdict

Nightbirds is a page turner about three girls from varied backgrounds, each with their own baggage, engaging with the constraints and threats imposed by society. Matilda’s childhood friend challenges her privilege and assumptions. Sayer’s fury with her sire who abandoned her taints her relationship to all the aristocracy. Aeso’s religious upbringing causes internal conflict, hamstringing her especially in times of danger. Nightbirds is a story for readers from upper primary school advanced readers to the elderly who love romance, adventure and challenging the status quo.

I just learnt that Nightbirds was published in February; I didn’t receive my copy until May. Sorry this is late – but, in the words of Han Solo, IT’S NOT MY FAULT.


If you enjoy Nightbirds, try Midnight in Everwood and The Upwelling.

Book details

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9781760526900
Publisher: A&U Children’s
Imprint: A & U Children (Allen and Unwin)
Pub Date: 2023
Page Extent: 480
Format: C-Format PB
Category: Fantasy & magical realism, young adult

Nightbirds cover: a girl wears a feathered headdress


Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

[mailerlite_form form_id=1]