First off the overall presentation is stunning. We get two lovely detailed maps and some internal artwork, and as an added bonus the font is a bit bigger and we’ll spaced (typical of YA) but my poor eyes loved reading it.
The magic is lush (reminds me of Roshani Chokshi but toned down). It paints the scene whether it’s small, pretty tricks or earth shaking feats of magic. The characters all have unique abilities based off what element they are attracted to. Bowing dragons made of fire, plant magic, it’s nothing terribly unique but I liked it.
Plus the writing moves constantly forward. There is none of that repetitive inner monologue crap that YA has gotten so notoriously bad about. It’s just so refreshing to read a book that’s always moving forward. Another thing that I really dislike about YA these days is that ever book tends to feature “romance”, and Nightbirds is blessedly light on any of that content! There are a few crushes and kisses but NO PINING, it’s just, oh, I wish they were all like this.
Take a hint publishers, editors, authors: keep the smut in adult books!
There’s enough political plotting to keep it interesting too without boring anyone with deep dive details into any of the government structure. It’s not too hard to figure out who’s in charge and there’s enough betrayal to keep it fresh.
Lastly there are the types of epigraphs that I love reading. Those which add little extras to the culture of the world. Some were tied into the story and some were just there to add flavor but I liked them.
Overall? It’s not perfect but I’ve got no content issues, was never bored, and flew through this book. I can’t wait for the sequel. If all YA was like this I’d read a lot more of it!