Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Raven Heir

Burgis, Stephanie. The Raven Heir
September 14th 2021 by Bloomsbury Children's Books
ARC provided by the publisher

Cordelia lives deep in an enchanted forest with her mother, family friend Alys, older brother Connall, and fellow triplets Giles and Rosalind. Cordelia has always been "wild"; she can change into the shapes of animals and can't bear to be cooped up inside. Her older brother is working on harnessing his magic, but Giles would rather be a troubadour, and Rosalind practices knightly techniques of fighting. They've never questioned their isolated existence, but when soldiers come into the forest and demand to see the heir to the throne, family secrets emerge. After trying to mount a defense, their mother gives surrenders, hoping this will give the triplets time to escape. Cordelia's powers help, and soon the three are on the run. One of them is the heir to the throne, but their mother has always been secretive about who was born first, so who would be next in line is unclear. They find that the situation outside their forest is not good, with wide swaths of devastation, and even with the telepathetic help of Connall, they aren't quite sure what to do. They meet Lady Elianora, their grandmother, who purports to help them, but instead drugs Rosalind and Giles. Cordelia is wary, so isn't as badly drugged, and she manages to shift into the shape of a moth to get out of the trunk in which the three have been locked. She then heads off, lugging the trunk, hoping to get to the Raven's Nest, where the crown has been buried. With all of the political divisiveness that has caused most heirs to the throne to have very short careers, will one of the triplets be able to take the crown... and survive? There's no information about how many books will be in this series, but clearly, there needs to be at least one more!
Strengths: What tween doesn't want the ability to turn into a bird or a cat or a fox, and run away from family? Don't all Warriors or Dragonet Prophecy readers secretly project themselves into the animals? This gives a fresh twist to the "tweens saving the world" trope, especially since the three don't know much about the world, much less about why it needs saving. Giles and Rosalind are fun characters, since they each have their own interests despite their odd family, and Connall is a great, supportive character of whom I would like to see more! There are not a lot of books starring triplets, and I've actually had four of five sets at my school over the last twenty years. 
Weaknesses: I was conflicted about Cordelia's "wild" magic. Should she have been better trained? Was this something usual? Why does Connall have different magic, and the other triplets don't seem to have any? I wanted a little more set up to describe this. Since the whole political situation isn't explained at the beginning, I felt a bit at sea.
What I really think: This is perfect for fans of this author's The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart and other medieval style fantasy books like Wishingrad's The Verdigris Pawn, Durst's The Stone Girl's Story, Prineas' The Scroll of Kings, Nielsen's The False Prince, or George's The Rose Legacy (which is a little more modern, but has political squabbles).

Short, Summer Rachel. Attack of the Killer Komodos
(Maggie and Nate Mysteries #2)
September 14, 2021 Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers

Also out-- the sequel to the great The Mutant Mushroom Takeover! Definitely take a look at this one if you haven't already.

I ordered this, but still need to read it. Why? The wheels have been falling off the bus in a BIG way this year, with one thing and another. In my mind, I already read this. What I actually read was Lang and Batkowski's Infestation, which my summer brain thought was the sequel. Totally different stuff except for the, you know, killer wildlife. Sigh. 

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