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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
The Night-Bird's Feather by Jenna Katerin Moran is a philosophical fantasy novel centered around the coming of age and a personal journey of growth in its protagonist, Valentina Grigorievna Sosunova. This complex novel both spans and transcends time, shifting between life and lucidity and a world of dreams that are frequently as real as even the former. The novel is an exploration of a woman's metaphysical evolution, her powers, and the intersection of the lives of those she shares space with in any capacity, meaningful or otherwise. Naturally, the intersections can have a profound impact on Valentina as well. Moran shapes this through alternating points of view that gradually present a complete picture. All of this comes into play when Valentina's family is put to sleep by a witch, Valentina remaining a presence in their dreams, and thus the character arc begins. Witches, death, magic, light and darkness, love, past and future, and all manner of thought and action converge in Valentina's anthology of a long physical life and saving herself and those she cares for in it.
The Night-Bird's Feather by Jenna Katerin Moran isn't a novel that every reader is going to love. Frankly, I think the syntax and composition of prose will only appeal to a niche set of readers. I cannot stress enough the complexity of Moran's writing, which is intelligent, witty, and deeply cultivated. Some lines are worthy of having your grandmother embroider onto a sofa cushion while others had me scratching my head, searching for meaning that only revealed itself when I took a breather. I liked the way that the novel often felt like an anthology of stories woven together to create one massive tapestry. There is luminous color, there is darkness, and there are threads that are blood-stained. Valentina is not always likable but she is understandable. Her family and the landscape of where she lives and studies are described in life. The most enjoyable character to me is a vampire with an anxiety disorder named Svetlana who is worthy of her own spin-off, and the character of Death itself. Overall, this is an exceptionally thoughtful novel that will require a commitment from its reader but is well worth every step of Valentina's journey. Very highly recommended.