Reviewed by Liz Konkel for Readers' Favorite
The Feathered Nest by Ellen Read is part of The Thornton Mysteries series. The Thornton family has planned an expedition to take them to Norfolk Island just in time for Alexandra's birthday. Their goal is to study and save the endangered species of birds on the island. Adding to the surprise, Alexandra gets the opportunity to photograph the amazing species but their trip takes a sinister turn when a murder occurs on Norfolk Island. Refusing to cancel the expedition, Alexandra's father and the team set out for the island. Alexandra's interest is piqued as she learns more about the island's history and stumbles onto a bird smuggling ring that sets her on the trail of a killer.
The mystery is set in the 1920s so Ellen Read incorporates several fun details to make up the historical background and creates Alexandra's world. Little details are woven throughout such as the subtle inclusion of the names of songs and the various mannerisms and behaviors that match the time period. The primary setting comes to life with details that describe the island as a paradise with majestic pine trees, a tranquil bay, rugged cliffs, and various descriptions of the beautiful birds. The writing even goes as far as comparing the beauty and magic of the island to Neverland. As the story progresses, the details of the island take a more ominous approach with ghost birds, cold air, and rain. Various historical details are subtly woven in as Alexandra gets to know the island, which adds to the richness of the setting. Different elements are incorporated into the murder mystery that features a voice for animal rights such as bird smuggling, whaling, and even the presence of a taxidermist.
The various relationships in Alexandra's life are important to who she is as a character as her father, her husband, and her adoptive sister each provide her with strength, support, and encouragement. The close family bonds keep this family together as they face various threats and challenges. Her husband is one of her main supporters and their relationship adds some romance to the story as their dynamic is sweet and sincere. Edith adds some humor and playfulness as they have a great dynamic as sisters and best friends. A lovely historical mystery, The Feathered Nest blends murder, theft, endangered species, a gorgeous setting, and charming characters.