Review | Nightingale by David Farland

NightingaleIf you like sparkly vampires, this might be a good segue to more serious fantasy, without giving up all the juice of a good teen romance.

If sparkly vampires make you blanch, then you have nothing to worry about. Nightingale, though occasionally dark, is an enjoyable and satisfying story.

The worst thing about Nightingale, to be completely honest, is the cover, and I don’t much like the title, either. But, since we don’t judge books by their covers, or their titles either, for that matter, let me tell you about why the book beneath the cover is well worth a read.

Bron Jones is an orphan and has grown hard due to a life spent bounced between foster homes. Despite his best efforts to please and satisfy his foster parents, they reject him, one after another. Until one day, when his newest foster parent recognizes him for what he is, something special and magical, something he doesn’t even know about himself: a nightingale.

Within him lie hidden powers, depths that will thrust him at the center of a secret war between good and evil. He will face who he is, and he will make a choice.

This is the third of David Farland’s books that I’ve read this year, and it is also in the third genre. That alone is notable. On My Way to Paradise was science fiction, The Sum of All Men was fully in the epic fantasy genre, and with Nightingale, Farland is writing for teens, or what I think they call “Young Adult” or “Urban Fantasy,” though, to be clear, it really does border on science fiction, too…just a different kind than you expect. It says something about his versatility that he can write for such varied audiences and interests and with such success.

In Nightingale, Farland spins a plot that I think teens will very much enjoy. Bron is darkly handsome, occasionally the rebel, and he thrives as a musician and artist as he begins school in a special high school for the performing arts in the picturesque red canyons and mountains of southern Utah. Love triangles abound, not to mention the drama, intensity, and angst that accompanies them. Notably, Farland delicately handles issues puberty, sex, and love, keeping it clean and appropriate without pretending like teenagers don’t deal with those things.

All this, though, is backdrop to the underlying conflict–Bron’s nature. His powers are such that they could be used to build or destroy. He struggles to decide whether he will use them to do either, all the while hiding from those that are hunting him for what he can do.

This isn’t to say that I fully enjoyed Nightingale quite as much as I did the other two of Farland’s novels that I’ve read. It moves quickly and without the level of depth that I’ve come to expect in a Farland’s novels, though I suspect this is largely due to the audience he’s writing for. As the novel closes, Farland delivers on his audience’s expectations, developing his characters and resolving conflicts, even as he creates new ones for examination in future sequels. I flew through the last couple chapters, an exciting showdown as the hidden menace hunting Bron is revealed and confronted.

Again, the cover is the worst part of Nightingale. It’s a picture of some dude’s head, and it reminded me more of Derek Zoolander than of a magical race of beings caught in a struggle thousands of years old. The novel, though, is geared towards young adults, is fast and exciting, full of twists, colorful characters, and growing action. If you like sparkly vampires, this might be a good segue to more serious fantasy without giving up all the juice of a good teen romance.

Recently, David Farland’s son was in a catastrophic accident, putting him in a coma for a period of time and requiring a number of medical procedures. Take a moment to consider purchasing a Farland title (or even Nightingale) to help Farland out. Like every writer, he provides for his family on what readers buy, and each purchase puts bread on his family’s table. Plus, you’ll have the benefit of owning a great read. Farland never disappoints. Thanks!

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About Daniel

Daniel Burton lives in Salt Lake County, Utah, where he practices law by day and everything else by night. He reads about history, politics, and current events, as well as more serious genres such as science fiction and fantasy. You can also follow him on his blog where he muses on politics, the law, books and ideas.