Who Reads Raven

Book jacket blurbs can give you a hint that a book might be worth reading, but they don’t help a librarian or bookseller when it comes time to recommend a book for a young reader. Here is a review and a little guidance from Beth Reynolds, former bookseller and now a children’s librarian at the Norwich Public Library in Norwich, Vermont. First the guidance:

Although very different in setting and action, Sky Carver and Raven can be compared to the Merlin series by T.A. Barron, and to the Rowan of Rin series by Emily Rodda. Raven herself is a younger version of some of the heroines in Tamora Pierce’s many adventures. You can also compare Raven to the Land of Pellinor series by Alison Croggon and Stuart Hill’s The Cry of the Icemark, though it is for an audience that is slightly younger, roughly 9 to 14. Sky Carver also straddles the intermediate and YA age groups. Both books have strong male and female characters on a river world where magic mixes with steamboats, bond servants with barons, and “grayfolk” with other races.

And here is Beth’s complete review of “Raven”:

Raven is a girl who can change into a bird; a mage, as she is known, who has fled the estate where she was a servant. Her mother was supposed to have escaped with her, but mysteriously stayed behind. Raven decides to finally find out the answers to her nagging questions by spying on her mother, and discovers that she now has a little sister. It only succeeds in angering her further when she discovers that the baby’s father is none other than the Baron himself – the very man who once caused Raven and her mother such agony.

Feeling betrayed Raven sets off, only to be reconnected with her mother when the Baron dies. And from there the adventure begins…

There is a real solid sense of place in this book, inhabited by well developed, interesting characters. You feel real anger towards those who have wronged the servants, and you want to help Raven in any way possible. Sometimes she just feels so desperate having to change back and forth between bird and human, staying one step ahead of the bad guys.

But somehow she manages to change her mother’s shape, and to teach Hero, the young boy who has escaped with them, to change his shape as well. All this in order to save the life of her baby sister. Then the question becomes: will they make it back in time?

This standalone book has both a powerful heroine for the girls and enough thrilling, page-turning moments for the boys. A historical fantasy novel that deserves a wider audience, and the intriguing cover will make it impossible not to pick it up off the shelf for a closer look.

Cover by Wieslaw Rosocha for Raven by Dean Whitlock

The Raven cover by Wieslaw Rosocha