Bird by Rita Murphy

Picked up the young adult novella Bird by Rita Murphy at the local library recently and like so many seem to have done so just because of the cover and the quote on the back:

Fear is a strange thing. It can creep unnoticed into your mind, seize hold of your reason and take root.

So after looking at the cover and reading that quote, I was wondering what is this book really all about?

Bird coverA girl easily carried off by the wind.

An elderly widow whose husband died under strange circumstances.

An isolated dwelling that breeds fear.

Miranda has no recollection of where she came from—only that years ago, a gust of wind deposited her outside Bourne Manor. The Manor’s sole inhabitant, Wysteria Barrows, took Miranda in and promptly outfitted her with special boots—boots weighted with steel bars to keep her anchored to the ground. But aside from shelter and clothing, Miranda receives little warmth from the aging widow. The Manor, too, is a cold place, full of drafts and locked doors. Full of menace. Full of secrets.

Then one day a boy named Farley appears. Farley helps Miranda embrace her destiny with the wind . . . and uncover the Manor’s hidden past.

Obviously, it is a short and quick read. Hard to describe what type of book it is, however. There is an element of fantasy or magical realism to start and then it feels almost like it is going to move from ghost story to horror story but returns to the fantastical by the end. There is definitely a Gothic element in the middle.

I enjoyed the writing, the way the author set a mood and created an atmosphere, and the quirkiness and ambivalence worked for me. But if you like clear explanations and plots this is probably not the book for you.

Kirkus captures it well:

Echoes of Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables run through this tale, which abounds with literary allusions. While even precocious child readers may not hear them, they will adore the setting, Miranda’s soaring, literary voice and the dreamy fantasy-meets-reality plot.


Kevin Holtsberry
I work in communications and public affairs. I try to squeeze in as much reading as I can while still spending time with my wife and two kids (and cheering on the Pittsburgh Steelers and Michigan Wolverines during football season).

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