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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

REVIEW: Nightingale by Amy Lukavics @amylukavics @harlequinteen #allthebookreviews

by Amy Lukavics

Thanks so much to Harlequin Teen for this review copy.
I absolutely adore Lukavics and her horror stories.  SO excited to have had this copy - continue below and see what me and my fellow horror lover, Jessica, thought!


Publisher:  Harlequin Teen
Publish Date: September 25, 2018
384 Pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, YA, Horror

At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn't be--independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner's domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered--suburbia isn't the only prison for different women.

June's parents commit her to Burrow Place Asylum, aka the Institution. With its sickening conditions, terrifying staff and brutal "medical treatments," the Institution preys on June's darkest secrets and deepest fears. And she's not alone. The Institution terrorizes June's fragile roommate, Eleanor, and the other women locked away within its crumbling walls. Those who dare speak up disappear...or worse. Trapped between a gruesome reality and increasingly sinister hallucinations, June isn't sure where her nightmares end and real life begins. But she does know one thing: in order to survive, she must destroy the Institution before it finally claims them all.

My Review:

I have a huge love for Lukavics and think her horror books, while YA, have a very mature and adult like read to them that keep me coming back and devouring all of her books.  Anything dealing with asylums and I'm SOLD. GIMME!

We are set in 1951, the "Past Days", where June is about to graduate from high school and her parents have a very distinctive role for her to play and she just needs to be "better".  Sigh.  The author does a great job in giving us that trapped feeling where we feel the necessity to be one way, as is socially the norm, but what we really want to do is break out of this mold and be our own person... and accepted for it.  Then we have the present day, in the Institution, chapters where June is committed for her hysteria and there is absolutely NOTHING that seems right about this place.  Is she wrong, or is this place wrong?

There's a semblance of a book-in-a-book with the science fiction story June is writing which takes this book into a whole different atmosphere (ha! see what I did there?).  Honestly, this is the part that got lost on me and where I think the blurb is slightly misleading.  I am just not the right audience for this - though I was reminded at times of Coraline and a season of Supernatural - but you're going to have to read this to understand where I'm coming from.  (It's ok, I rarely make sense to myself either.)

What is fantastic is the eerie feeling of this book - it's a build up of dread and insanity and the unknown of what is or isn't real as we ride through June's various thoughts before and after being institutionalized.  There are also some gruesome and enjoyable scenes as we get further along and these I always do enjoy. 

Another solid bit of work from Lukavics and I'm reminded again of why I am such a HUGE fan - even when something doesn't quite hit the mark for me, I'm still highly entertained and pulled into her stories.


Jessica's Review:

This was my introduction to Amy Lukavics and I was not disappointed! I've heard great things about her writing and was very anxious to start NIGHTINGALE. This blends horror themes and adds in some sci-fi elements, I'm not really a fan of sci-fi but this wasn't the main focus.

We have two timelines - the past is in 1951 as June is still in high school and preparing to graduate. The other is present day as she is in the Institution for hysteria. We have the unreliable narrator theme that I will always love about these types of books, especially when a mental institution is involved! Is June actually the one going insane or is there something else going on in the Institution? There's a constant sense of something being off and not quite right.

I think that June is an incredibly relatable character - she's struggling with the standards that her family has set for her. You can feel her sense of hopelessness and the seemingly uphill battle that she faces. I love when a character feels real and authentic and I think many readers will enjoy that about June. I will say that this isn't the in your face horror with monsters and ghosts, but there is a creeping sense of doom that grows on you and there is some gore towards the end.

Overall, I can see this not being for everyone, but I thoroughly enjoyed the read and I will be picking up more from Lukavics!

 4/5 stars

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