Bird by Rita Murphy
Bird, is a young adult fairy tail. The story begins with the main character Miranda, who is a small, thin wisp of a girl who is easily carried off by the wind. She arrived at Bourne Manor, which sits on the shore of Lake Champlain, by a strong wind. Bourne Manor is quietly whispered about by everyone in the town. It is a mysterious old house that seems alive with misfortune, charm, and controlling powers that encompasses those who reside there. Miranda cannot remember where she came from, and has grown up only knowing Wysteria and the four hounds who occupy the manor. Wysteria an elderly widow who is somewhat cold, hard, and controlling who doesn't seem to care for Miranda like a daughter, but more like a maid. We're never sure if Wysteria is a naturally hardened person, or if the house itself is weaving its darkness into her. Miranda does not see herself as a slave at first; she sees herself as eternally grateful for Wysteria's kindness to take her in. Miranda spends all of her time at the manor, and isn't allowed to venture outside for fear of being carried off by the wind. When she does go outside Miranda wears a pair to steel plated boots to stay securely to the ground. Miranda then befriends Farley, who gives her a taste of freedom, adventure, and a side to the brave Miranda that she never knew existed. Miranda and Farley try to figure out the mystery and fortune of Bourne Manor, and escape before its too late.
The creativity and sheer uniqueness of this story was a pleasure to read. The books feel eerie and enticing with a twist of magical delight. The characters were exceptionally well-developed, and Miranda might be one of my favorite characters that I've encountered in all my reading. Overall, I really loved this book, although it had even greater potential if the author would have done several things:
1. I had a hard time understanding who this book was intended for. Children? Tweens? Teens? The book is written simply and is very whimsical, making you believe it may be for children. But, the dialogue of the characters refers to an older audience. The age of Miranda is also hard to pinpoint. At first I pictured her as a young child, but then throughout the book she seems older: 14, maybe 15.
2. The book needed expanded by at least 100 pages. It was a little short, and kind of left us hanging and still wondering.
3. Although the characters were not undeveloped, the overall story line was, but I think this goes along with the book being too short. Much of the story is engulfed in bewilderment. Most of the time one could see this as an appealing, suspenseful aspect, but in this case the majority of the story we're left in darkness just wondering...and wondering. Every time you think you might learn part of a secret, the author never really manifests any answers. For example, Miranda finds a bottle hidden in Wysteria's room with her name on it. She eventually learns it's a sedative, but we never learn its purpose or if it was ever actually used on Miranda! Small parts of the story like this seem imperative to unlocking the whole mystery, but we never do! I especially wish she would have expanded on Bourne Manor, Wysteria, and Miranda's past. I think it would have helped understanding why certain events happened in the book, especially if we knew more about the house's past since it was the predominate reason for events and kept the story moving. Although most of the book leaves us with even more questions, I stilled liked it, which is saying something.
This book has little riddles whispering through the underlying pages of the book, which then transfer into the fascination of the Bourne Manor and Miranda, even after you put it down. As I sit here, I still feel like if I think about it enough, I can still lift the fog from the Bourne Manor and what all the clues meant. This is why this book was still good. In most stories if we don't figure out the mystery we're disappointed, but Rita Murphy manages to turn disappoint into a lingering sense of hope and wonder. I would absolutely recommend this book!