The Bird Woman Review
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When we first meet Ellen McKinnon, she’s married to Robbie, a semi-abusive husband. When she finds that she’s able to foretell the deaths of other people, she’s placed in a mental institution for a few months in an effort to help her cope with the frightening and disturbing images. Once released, she leaves town for a while and meets Liam, whom she uses as an escape because he seems to understand her clairvoyant experiences. Eventually, she leaves Robbie and moves in with Liam in Southern Ireland, much to her Presbyterian family’s disapproval.

Desperate to suppress her clairvoyance, she tries to create a normal life with Liam and basically cuts off her connection with her family—especially with her mother, who thought Ellen should have stuck it out with Robbie. Ellen finds a friend in an ex-nun named Catherine, but this friendship causes turmoil in her life, too.

Ellen’s visions of death soon mutate to the ability to heal the hurting and sick. She’s not thrilled with this talent, either. But no matter how hard she tries to hide it, word still gets out, and Liam pushes her to use her gift—a gift she wants no part of. All she wants is to raise her children in peace, but people arrive at her doorstep seeking comfort and a cure for whatever ails them. When her mother gets sick, Ellen returns home to face a family secret that has a profound effect on her life.

Character-driven and haunting, The Bird Woman makes an interesting read—but it wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would be a bit spookier, but it wasn’t that kind of tale. It’s the story of a tortured woman’s journey through clairvoyant experiences that leave her damaged, both mentally and physically. Though I enjoyed this book, I found it easier to read in small doses. I’d read a chapter or two, put it down and pick something else up for a while. But by the end, the story left me with something philosophical to think about, and I always like a novel that leaves me with a new insight into life—so that makes the journey worthwhile.

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