Nightbird by Alice Hoffman

Twig lives in a small town called Sidwell with her mother and brother in a house that has belonged to their family for years. Twig’s family suffered a curse many years earlier at the hands of a witch who, at the time, lived in a cottage nearby. The curse takes away the freedom of men born into the family and leaves them outcast from society. Having suffered this fate, Twig’s brother is a secret kept from the rest of the town. He is homeschooled and kept indoors his whole life. But his safety is jeopardised when the infamous Sidwell monster starts to strike around town, stealing and graffitiing buildings in protest against the impending development of the Sidwell woods – a development that could ruin the town forever. As the townsmen begin to call for the death of the monster, Twig starts to worry that the monster could reveal her brother’s existence and so she becomes determined to find it. With help from a new friend who has moved into the old witch’s house, Twig will not only uncover secrets she didn’t know existed, but possibly wreck her family’s lives forever.

Nightbird is a magical fairytale of love, betrayal and friendship perfect for middle fiction readers looking to move into young adult fiction. Ages 11 and up.

Katherine Dretzke is a bookseller at Readings Hawthorn.