Raven Mysteries: Flood and Fang by Marcus Sedgwick
|Raven Mysteries: Flood and Fang by Marcus Sedgwick|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A pleasant opener to the series, as a Gothic castle is under threat by a strange beasty and lots of water - it's just not on a par with what comes after in the cycle.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: October 2010|
|Publisher: Orion Children's Books|
Otherhand Castle, and all in it, is under threat, and only Edgar can save the day. Pity, perhaps, then, that Edgar is only a raven. But he's not your typical raven, for not only is he centuries old, and our narrator, but he is the only one who can see the connections between, and the danger involved in, a cellar full of rising floodwater, a horrific tail glimpsed in the vegetable garden, and some missing maids.
So who are the inhabitants this anything-but-a-birdbrain might be saving? Well, consider the Addams Family reinvented for the 21st Century. The Lord of the manor is as mad as the box of frogs he literally has beside him for his experiments; his wife is a cook with far too much expertise in using spells and poisons to be palatable; their daughter is the cute goth girl with the nearest thing to a brain; and her brother - well, her brother has a monkey.
On the whole it's unfortunate the book reviewing gods made me meet all of them first in the third book in this series, and not at the beginning, for I have the fondest of memories of the jubilant quirks that were there. Going back to the start it's almost as if Sedgwick - unusual as it sounds for such a fine writer - was merely finding his feet in his first book for the under-elevens.
Here I don't think the story holds as much fascination, and the telling - the novelty of Edgar regardless - is a little too near average. The story is too linear - just following the inexorable path of the floodwaters, with little in the way of surprise.
Still, this is enjoyable - for all the many Addams Family rewrites that come our way (naming no names) this series is uniformly the best by far. There is a lot of drollery from Edgar, not least over his hatred of the monkey. There is some intrigue as the humans slowly realise their impending doom, and a lot of comedy to be had from how the smartest Castle resident is the crotchety old raven who ultimately makes this all worthwhile.
All those make this, while not brilliant, still recommendable - and especially so for the reluctant reader, who may see these brisk and sparsely-worded 240pp as an accomplishment. And just think, when enjoying this, how the series only improves...
I must thank Orion Books' kind people for my review copy.
We also enjoyed the first sequel - Ghosts and Gadgets.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Raven Mysteries: Flood and Fang by Marcus Sedgwick at Amazon.com.
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