Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Raven Mysteries, #1 Flood and Fang

By Marcus Sedgwick

#1 First Published in 2009 by Orion

Ooooh, The Raven Mysteries. I love it when you discover a terrific kids series. This one’s been out for a couple of years now but it’s only just recently been on my radar – a series of books narrated by a cranky raven? Yeah, I’m down for that. An ancient, gothic-style castle? Defs. And an assortment of oddballs, lunatics and fruitcakes that inhabit this castle? Totally. And the first book, Flood and Fang, was a fun, easy and quirky, with gorgeous illustrations perfectly suited to the tone of the book. There is great delight taken in the silly and the ridiculous, turning oddity and quite often stupidity into one big, enjoyable laugh.
The real drawcard is Edgar, the Raven, who is lovely and funny and bitter and arrogant in all the right amounts, although I do have a soft spot for cranktastic ravens, having written a novel about one myself. His voice and narration gives Flood and Fang a great novelty factor – I’m not sure if it would lose some of its charm further into the series, but for the moment take great pleasure in his witty asides and comical derring-do. Of course Edgar is the hero of the book, as he should be, but he does it all with a great deal of irony and world-weary air. If I was Solstice, I would totally fall for his postures of noble pain.
The only real thing lacking in Flood and Fang was a sense of emotional attachment – this is a great read – fun and funny – but it is all so breezy nothing deeper ever really sinks in. But for this series, I don’t think it has to. The focus is on the humour and the adventure and the oddities in and around the castle. Maybe as the series develops it becomes easier to understand and even get attached to the Otherhand family, but to begin with, as we view them through Edgar’s already familiar and slightly distasteful eye, they are really just a set of characters whose self-centeredness and stupidity are really just there for Edgar’s discriminating judgement.
But you know what – this is the Edgar show, and read these books for him. If I was a lady raven, he would totally be to die for ;) A fun and fabulous read with adventure for the kids and more than a few sly, knowing asides for the adults.

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