A big ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐s to Jennifer Brasington-Crowley’s “Nightingale” – the final book in her touching Stillwaters series.
Find a copy here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09PZ7QYVG/
🎸 The Last Installment in the Stillwaters Series Delivers a Wonderfully Satisfying Ending
The third book in the Stillwaters series, “Nightingale,” brings with it all the elements readers fell in love with in books one and two. It’s also the companion book to “Hell’s Bells” – the capstone in the intertwined Raven Song series. In both, readers will discover characters moving seamlessly back and forth between the two final installments. This dual release was a brilliant initiative by author Jennifer Brasington-Crowley. I chose to read “Hell’s Bells” first, then “Nightingale.” The character-couple focus in “Nightingale” is husband and wife team, Jay Nightingale and Cayman Stillwater.
In the first installment of the Stillwaters series, the author introduces a light amount of paranormal influence into the storyline. Readers who shy away from such themes take heart: It’s a slender layer that pulls the story – and the series – together. Brasington-Crowley carried those same paranormal aspects forward in her second book, then brought it into “Nightingale” – although to a gentler degree. Still, I was thrilled to see this golden thread weaving some of the pages of “Nightingale” together. The author’s handling of this somewhat dreamy substory about Cayman’s previously doomed relationship (in book one) was delicate, respectful, and lovely.
A bit of the supernatural also comes in the form of Alistair Stillwater, Cayman’s outspoken and maybe-clairvoyant brother. The author excels in character development, and Alistair is one who, for me, shines. In fact, I want more Alistair. Whenever he appears on the page, I can’t get enough. Yet again, here Brasington-Crowley practices restraint – giving us just enough of Alistair’s snark and wit without turning him into a caricature of himself.
Additionally, the author uses Alistair magnificently as the court jester – he gets away with saying what needs to be said (often with shocking lines) to make things better for those around him. This writing device allows the author to spin a scene or a storyline toward the resolution she wants to give. And it works.
A challenge the author handled masterfully was moving forward along the timeline of Jay and Cayman’s life together. Readers don’t always easily follow along when years have suddenly gone by in a blink. It can be exceptionally difficult to jump ahead by weeks and months, but years? Brasington-Crowley pulled it off with ease by focusing on the milestones of childhood: Birth, language development, birthdays, etc. I daresay it’s one of the best examples of bringing the reader through the years – while still keeping them in the story – that I’ve ever seen.
As for relationships, the author moved the bond between Jay and Cayman forward as well. Both count significant exes in their history – both loving and not – and I was thrilled to see how the author handles the “nots.” She didn’t belabor the point with long, drawn-out scenes. As for the past loving relationships, Brasington-Crowley handled the reunion between Jay and a (sort of) lost love perfectly. Bittersweet at times, but the resolution was a good one – and believable, which made it even better.
Throughout this book, the author displays her prowess of taking a handful of words and arranging them in such a way that the impact is significant – or, cracks open the imagery she would like you to see in your head. Here is one of my favorites: “They call Las Vegas the city that doesn’t sleep, but Los Angeles was its kissing cousin, the city that’s always awake.” Perfect.
Another one of my favorites: “… he laughed a chittery laugh like his parents were crickets.” I loved that one.
I don’t include spoilers in my reviews, but be prepared to walk through some difficult times with Cayman and Jay as a couple as they face loss and fear together. It is heart-wrenching and at times painful to witness (as the reader), but Brasington-Crowley has never shied away from hard subjects. People don’t always get what they want, and the author allows that to happen in “Nightingale.”
The ending of this book was a lot of fun (for me) because Brasington-Crowley closely blended the final chapter of “Nightingale” with the end of “Hell’s Bells” – again, a fabulous move. Also, the last decision made by Jay and Cayman about their future together was immensely satisfying. The author had two choices – and both were valid – but I’m glad she wrote the story’s wrap-up in the way that she did.
Five stars to this capstone! If you haven’t yet picked up this series, check out “Stillwaters” and “Cayman Island” (one of my favorite books of all time – period). You won’t be able to stop yourself from becoming a fan of Jennifer Brasington-Crowley’s work!