Book Review: Rhianna King’s Birds of a Feather is a delightfully sweet debut

Birds of a Feather Cover

Coming from new author Rhianna King, Birds of a Feather is an utterly charming – and very Aussie – debut novel. A little funny, a little poignant, it makes for a wonderfully relaxing read.

Beth, our protagonist and the first of our two viewpoint characters, is a very practical and unsentimental young woman. This puts her a bit at odds with the rest of her family, who are artists and dreamers that don’t quite understand her – all except from her grandmother Elise, our second viewpoint character. When Beth wins thousands of dollars in the lottery, she wants to use at least some of the money to treat Elise.

Elise revealing that she has a long-lost love is certainly not what Beth expected, and she definitely didn’t expect this long-lost love to be a woman – a relationship which had been broken due to homophobia and circumstances outside of their control, and kept secret all this time. But now, armed with Beth’s lotto money, the pair set out to London to meet this lost love and rekindle their romance – and in Beth’s case, maybe to find new love as well.

I hesitate, in some ways, to call this book a romance novel. There are two romantic relationships running through this book – the rekindled love of Elise and Gerry, sweet but also uncertain at times, and the sudden, almost whirlwind, romance Beth discovers when she arrives in London. But it’s also a book about relationships more broadly, in which family ties which are just as important – and as touching – as the romantic ones.

Beth’s relationship with her grandmother is heartwarming, especially in the face of a revelation she doesn’t quite know how to react to. Her relationship with the rest of her family, who she sees as a little too carefree and easy-going, is a little more fraught and frustrated – but it’s this that adds a bit of interest, a bit of spice, as she tries to reach out to and understand them. A lot of this book focuses on these other relationships, and as delightful as the romances are, the family drama and focus is just as compelling.

The book is about more than that as well. It’s about the importance of chasing what makes you happy, especially your relationships, because they won’t last forever. It’s also about nature – so much of the book celebrates the natural beauty of Australia, especially that of Western Australia, and it’s a joy to see.

And it’s also about the struggles faced by queer people, both in recent history and today. While the book doesn’t delve too deeply into the specifics of the oppression some have faced, it does discuss it frankly, with an earnestness which feels respectful and impactful.

At times the novel feels a bit slow-paced; events happen very gradually and it takes a while to get to the meat of the romantic drama. But the two viewpoint characters – ever-practical Beth and kind-hearted Elise – are compelling enough that it still flows smoothly, and the book draws you in even when they’re just having a conversation over tea. It’s just a nice, relaxing read. Though if you’re hoping for things to get straight to the romance, you may be a little disappointed.

Birds of a Feather isn’t some earth-shattering masterwork that will transform how you see the world. But it is sweet, and charming, and a little funny. It’s a great read, whether you’re here for the romance or the family drama, and it’s possibly even a bit of a tearjerker.


Rhianna King’s Birds of a Feather is available now from Affirm Press. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.