In 1905, in the town of Bisbee in the Arizona Territory, a married woman aided by her Mexican maid gives birth to a baby girl named Sara. Thus we are introduced to the first of many intriguing characters in Josephine DeFalco’s novel, The Nightbird’s Song. The woman, Brenna, is a character of strength and heart around whom the novel unfolds in a multi-plotted, varied tale of murder, hardship, grit and turmoil, interspersed with love, relationships, and family. In other words, a tale about life. In a uniquely important manner, this specific setting within turn-of-the-century Arizona—a rugged desert environment filled with predators and prey, both animal and human—becomes as instrumental to the story as the characters themselves. Left alone in this secluded, arid place, Brenna must face and overcome the ever-escalating consequences of her husband’s disappearance, as the novel turns to personal trials and tribulations, shared victories and failures, and most significantly her ever-evolving relationships with major friends and family members.
Josephine DeFalco’s writing in The Nightbird’s Song is perhaps most notable and memorable for its wonderful rhythm established between the eventful and the mundane—a perfect replication of the natural flow of life conveyed here so very well. The evolution of many strong, enduring friendships—as compared to many less desirable family characteristics—as they occur within the larger patterns of a quite demanding life are extremely well developed and handled by the author. Like the characters themselves, and the ruggedly demanding, copper-rich but inaccessible locale, the reader feels himself to be an integral part of this book; a witness—with somewhat more perspective than the other engaged participants—to a meaningful procession of unpredictable events, never really knowing what might come next, but like the nightbird with its song, always calling for another.