All the Birds, Singing, Evie Wyld: Book Review

Flat endings are the worst.

all the birds singing evie wyld book review
All the Birds, Singing Book Cover All the Birds, Singing
Evie Wyld
Adult Fiction, Thriller, Mystery
Pantheon
April 15, 2014
Hardcover
240

From one of Granta's Best Young British Novelists, a stunningly insightful, emotionally powerful new novel about an outsider haunted by an inescapable past: a story of loneliness and survival, guilt and loss, and the power of forgiveness.

Jake Whyte is living on her own in an old farmhouse on a craggy British island, a place of ceaseless rains and battering winds. Her disobedient collie, Dog, and a flock of sheep are her sole companions, which is how she wanted it to be. But every few nights something—or someone—picks off one of the sheep and sets off a new deep pulse of terror. There are foxes in the woods, a strange boy and a strange man, rumors of an obscure, formidable beast. But there is also Jake's past—hidden thousands of miles away and years ago, held in the silences about her family and the scars that stripe her back—a past that threatens to break into the present.

With exceptional artistry and empathy, All the Birds, Singingreveals an isolated life in all its struggles and stubborn hopes, unexpected beauty, and hard-won redemption.

This review contains spoilers

All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld explores the dark curiosity that comes with the life of a shepherd. Wyld’s writing is rather desolate and raw, but not in a tasteless way. However, in many instances in the story, the scenes she paints begin to lose their substance; the events that take place are more illusionary and fleeting than what you’d expect from a conceivable thriller. Her penmanship, on the other hand, is a different story; Wyld’s prose is incredibly gripping, and she does such a wonderful job at illustrating the stream of consciousness of her protagonist, Jack Whyte, that it feels like the reader is just as much prey to the unseen beast that’s stalking her livestock.

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As much as I enjoyed Wyld’s writing and her way with keeping up with the book’s suspense factor, I’m not sure I can say I was satisfied with how it ended. There were so many unexplained mysteries behind each chapter (which also seemed to drag on endlessly), and most of which were never revisited by the book’s end. I did not understand what led to Jake’s tumultuous childhood, or whether Otto was really, in fact, Jake’s uncle, and for a great deal of the book it seemed as though the mythical beast stalking her home became a mere backdrop of Jack’s troubled beginnings. Lastly, how does Lloyd’s character make any sense of it all, and was his presence even necessary at all?

These were the unanswered questions I wished had been addressed before the book’s end. Of course, everything about what happens in the end is just plain speculation, which may or may not be more reason to dislike this story as a whole.

I didn’t mind learning of Jack’s background but it seemed to overshadow what I felt was the bigger part of the bigger: Who or What was responsible for killing so many of her sheep? Of course, by the end, we understand that it was some omniscient, God-like presence to blame; I don’t know about you, but I felt that ending wasn’t good enough for me. In some selfish way, I felt jaded by that ending and it’s not because I was hoping to see what It was that was stalking her, but because it didn’t make any sense.

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If she were going to take that angle, with the omniscient predator, then there should have been more of a focus on Jake’s determination to find out what the beast was once and for all. It would have made for a much better substitute than juggling between Jake’s past and present life; if anything, that made the ending more of a blur than the compelling cliffhanger it tried to be.

If that doesn’t tell you how I felt about this book: I was so upset with the ending that I wound up returning the book to the place of purchase for a refund.


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Written by Paris Close

Paris Close

Editor-in-chief at Paperback Paris. Saving myself for Andy Cohen. Give me Gillian Flynn, or give me death.