“Good morning, Nightingale.”
“At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn’t be—independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner’s domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered—suburbia isn’t the only prison for different women…
June’s parents commit her to Burrow Place Asylum, aka the Institution. With its sickening conditions, terrifying staff and brutal “medical treatments,” the Institution preys on June’s darkest secrets and deepest fears. And she’s not alone. The Institution terrorizes June’s fragile roommate, Eleanor, and the other women locked away within its crumbling walls. Those who dare speak up disappear…or worse. Trapped between a gruesome reality and increasingly sinister hallucinations, June isn’t sure where her nightmares end and real life begins. But she does know one thing: in order to survive, she must destroy the Institution before it finally claims them all.” – Goodreads
I read and really enjoyed Amy Lukavic’s first novel, Daughters Unto Devils, a couple of years ago. YA horror is a rare thing to come by, and I will always jump at a new entry into the genre. I thought Daughters Unto Devils was creepy, horrific, and a lot of fun.
Nightingale is my second novel by Amy Lukavics, and I was excited to read another brutal, no-holds-barred horror novel. And I wasn’t particularly disappointed. This book is brutal, violent, creepy, and suspenseful, just as I hoped it would be. This time we follow June Hardie, a 17 year old who has been admitted to Burrow Place Asylum after a mysterious incident occurred, leading her to believe her parents have been replaced. There she meets a cast of girls with equally as mysterious pasts, and a staff of nurses and doctors who may not have their best interests in mind.
The book switches back and forth between present day in the institution, and “days past” where we slowly learn what caused June to be admitted. I found the present day sections to be a bit dull, although that’s where most of the excitement is supposed to lie. I was much more interested in the past and uncovering what exactly it was that June did and why the staff of the institution has such an interest in her.
It took me a long time to read as I felt that it dragged a bit in the middle, but the story really picked up for an action packed (and totally crazy) ending. I definitely recommend holding out even if you’re not incredibly invested in the beginning – it definitely does pick up. Although I was thoroughly entertained towards the end, the book did leave me with some unanswered questions that still bug me, and I felt things could have been resolved a little cleaner.
The book has great feminist undertones, and LGBT rep. June deals with the oppression of her strict family, constantly being held down by the men in her life, and has to learn to overcome it and be the woman she truly wants to be, or as her mother says – “a better young woman”.
Overall, I give this book 3 stars. If you’re interested in horror, particularly YA horror, I recommend that you give this book a read, and check out Amy Lukavics’ other works, as well. It was a fun spooky Halloween read that didn’t pull any punches and got me in the mood for even more horror!
My Rating: ★★★