Birds in Fall
Brad Kessler

April 11, 2006
Hardcover/256 pages
ISBN: 0-7432-8738-X
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". . . an atmospheric tale that is to be savored . . ."

"The inn is a cocoon, a temporary sanctuary apart from the world…"

"Kessler deftly weaves myth and spiritual traditions. . ."

In his haunting second novel, Birds in Fall, Brad Kessler once again explores the affects of disaster and death on the people left behind.


One September night, a plane crashes into the Atlantic off the coast of Nova Scotia killing all of its passengers including Russell, a New York ornithologist, a Bulgarian cellist, a young Iranian girl, a Dutch couple, and a Taiwanese expatriate. Their families descend upon Trachis Island, seeking answers, hoping against the odds that their loved ones will still be rescued, mourning when that hope proves futile. Kevin Gearns, who witnessed the crash from his garden, shelters the families at his island inn. Kevin is still grieving from his own past and is steadily growing apart from his partner.


However, the story centers on Ana, the wife of Russell, and herself an ornithologist who studies the migratory patterns of birds. The reader is offered glimpses into the despair and grief of other individuals as well, their anger and sorrow over an event that has irrevocably changed their lives. We witness the different ways each person deals with those emotions. The inn is a cocoon, a temporary sanctuary apart from the world, a place that offers comfort long after those days immediately following the crash.


Kessler deftly weaves myth and spiritual traditions into his story, exploring how we find meaning and solace in the face of terrible loss. Even the particulars of avian migration are given a singular poignancy, resonating within the surrounding human story. Kessler’s lyrical storytelling transforms what could have been a harsh, bleak account into an exquisite dance of grief and love. This atmospheric tale is to be savored and will linger with the reader long after the last page is turned.

Reviewer: Lesley Williams