The Secret of Nightingale Wood is Lucy Strange’s debut novel and begins with a setting similar to ‘The Railway Children’ by E. Nesbit. It is set in the early 20th century and in a country setting reminiscent of ‘The Railway Children’, with a change in family home, with a similar family make up, and an unspoken tragedy at the centre of the story.
The similarities do end quickly though, as Henry has to deal with difficulties that are reminiscent of those in ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys and are slightly harsher than those Nesbit’s era were prepared to deal with in a children’s book, though Nesbit did write horror stories for adults which were much darker than her children’s stories.
Lucy Strange’s hero, Henry has to face a lot of problems and feels that she has to do these alone, but as the story develops, so does the friendships she makes develop. She finds support and friendship in some strange places.
The two main shadows over the story are the loss of her elder brother and the aftermath of WWI, both of these are themes throughout the book and weave all the way through the book and each other.
This is a well written book that flows from the moment you open the page and is lovingly decorated throughout with pen sketches of various locations and objects from the story.