Tag Archives: ravens

A Raven’s Tail….


Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle
by  George Hagen
Schwartz & Wade, August 26, 2014
Grades 4-7 (9-12 years old), 384 pgs (hardcover)

This is a Netgalley review.

So up pops a notice in my inbox of another book, “please read this and review”. I looked at the cover and said cool, and uploaded it immediately. This is a terrific Junior Fiction middle grade story with just the right amount of horror and adventure without being overly complex or cerebral. There are many main characters, but the central figure is the boy Gabriel and a young raven named Paladin. Their quest? To find Gabriel’s Dad who mysteriously disappeared three years ago. The two young girls who assist Gabriel are also wonderful and quirky. Abby, the girl who could be Pippi Longstocking’s granddaughter, and the violin playing Pamela who’s mother could turn milk sour by looking at it. The last child is the hulking bully Somes, portrayed as a misunderstood child from a broken home. (see parental note below) 

The message of this story is to do what is right not what is easy, and that everyone deserves a second chance (even yourself). There are moments of hilarity (the dancing desk is my favorite) and the riddles are good for this age group, I asked my kids several and it was fun watching them try to figure it out. The little drips of ancient Norse mythology woven through the book were cleverly done. Though I suspect most references will fly right over the heads of the intended target audience. (And No there is no Thor, or hammer, But there are dwarves, a cursed bit of jewelry, and the two ravens Munin and Hugin.) This is part of a series but unlike most offerings right now is a self contained story, there is no cliffhanging ending, though there are still mysteries left to solve for future books.

Note to parents, there is a bully in this who turns out to have an abusive father and he does hit Somes multiple times. I get a little nervous when a bully, who does hurt and target Gabriel, is treated as a misunderstood child with a bad past as if that excuses his behavior, but this is a book about second chances so turning the other cheek in this case works. And Somes is redeemed in the end. There are a lot of birds that are killed and some birds eat their humans which is described in detail. The settings are universally dark (the prison cells for the birds in Aviopolis gave me the shivers). But other than being aware that it can be dark this is a great Fall or Halloween read.

This book is scheduled to be released just in time for school to start and I can’t wait to introduce our students to this wonderful group of characters.