Books & Literature

Book Review: The Raven Heir, by Stephanie Burgis

MIDDLE-GRADE: Three triplets who live in the centre of the forest with their sorceress mother don’t know that one of them is heir to the Raven Throne.

The type of middle-grade novel that ignites a life-long love of reading.

Set in an enchanted land marked by sprawling forests and warring dynasties, The Raven Heir is the latest novel by fantasy and middle-grade author Stephanie Burgis.

This is the tale of Cordelia and her brother and sister, Giles and Rosalind, who live in the centre of the forest with their sorceress mother. Little do the triplets know that one of them is the heir to the Raven Throne. Beyond the safety of the forest, the war for the Raven Throne has been wreaking havoc for years, and being named the Raven Heir means certain death. When the family is captured, Cordelia must use her power to transform into any animal to keep her siblings safe and discover the truth about the identity of the Raven Heir.

Bursting with adventure, this novel features interesting and unique magical lore that the target audience of middle-grade readers will love. The magic is lots of fun, and Cordelia’s shapeshifting, in particular, will have many young readers wishing that they could escape to this charming world.

Though the story itself is fast-paced and captivating, the descriptions of the setting are also powerful at drawing in the reader. Burgis has created a universe that children will no doubt want to visit, thanks to the magical laws she has created and the emotive imagery used to portray the environment.

The marvellous characters challenge age-old stereotypes without being too overwhelming or trying too hard. With female knights, little girls who dream of mastering the sword, and creative little boys who are passionate about music, the story reminds young readers that they can be whoever they want to be.

It’s also refreshing to see the positive relationship between the triplets, making The Raven Heir a wonderful exploration of sibling bonds and family unity. The love that the triplets have for each other, as well as their loyalty for one another, was a pleasure to read.

The chapters are nice and short, which is likely to make the book easier and more appealing for kids to read. The themes and writing fit the middle-grade category superbly, and I imagine that some passages will be particularly effective at helping children to learn new, more advanced vocabulary.

The Raven Heir is an exciting story driven by stand-out characters shrouded in an enticing magical vibe. With bits of humour weaved within and twists to keep readers guessing, this is the type of middle-grade novel that could very well ignite a life-long love of reading.

Reviewed by Vanessa Elle
Instagram: @vanessaellewrites

Distributed by: Bloomsbury
Released: 31 August 2021
RRP: $15.99

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