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 an e-ARC from Harlequin TEEN and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I went into Nightingale expecting a gothic horror that also examines traditional gender roles in the vein of Cat Winters’ In the Shadow of Blackbirds. Suffice to say that I was initially quite surprised by the form that Nightingale‘s horrors took, and not necessarily in a good way; it felt like Lukavics herself didn’t quite know which direction she wanted to take the story which manifested itself in a very confusing storyline. That said, I did predict the major plot twist less than 30% of the way into the story and found myself underwhelmed by the ending.
I also found it really difficult to connect to any of the characters. While part of this is intentional due to the unreliable narrator, the writing style felt juvenile and was filled with much more telling than showing. As a result, the stakes never felt real to me, making the story fall rather flat.
Overall, I found Nightingale to be a disappointing read. The premise held a lot of promise, but the unfocused way in which it was achieved left a lot to be desired.