Nightingale by Amy Lukavics
YA ∴ Horror ∴ SciFi > Aliens ∴ Historical Fiction ∴ LGBTQIA+ > wlw ∴ TW > body horror, domestic abuse, shaming (in multiple forms)
Expected publication: September 25th 2018 by Harlequin Teen
eGalley ∴ 384 pages
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.
I received a digital copy from Harlequin Teen via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.
This was a crazy ride. I finished half of it on the way to a convention in Indianapolis and I just didn’t know what to do with myself when I was done. I’m not sure where I thought the book was going, but that ending definitely wasn’t it.
At first, this seems like a story where a girl who doesn’t fit her family’s standards is placed in a mental institution. The farther you get, the more you realize how unreliable June is. Once I figured out that she’s literally the worst person to be telling a story, I was hooked. I love love love unreliable narrators. It’s a mystery, but not a cut and dry cozy. I have to put in work, think about what’s really going on for myself.
I’ve seen some reviews that question how this book is horror because it’s not “scary.” It is scary, but not in the traditional slasher-zombie-maniac-is-chasing-someone-through-a-house scary. It’s the unknown, it’s something hiding just out of sight. It’s also the really unsettling body-horror, akin to Junji Ito in it’s creepiness.
To put it bluntly, this book is a delightful mindfuck that keeps you guessing until the end. I really enjoyed it, and if you like aliens, 1950s poodle skirts, judgmental mothers, and tentacle faces (not a spoiler, I think), then I highly recommend this one for your spooky October reads.