Monday, 13 March 2017

#ReviewMonday with KM Lockwood:The Raven's Call by Kris Humphrey

Illustrated by Chellie Carroll
224 pages in paperback (read on Kindle via NetGalley)
Publisher: Little Tiger 

When a raven drops a white feather at the doorstep on the day of your birth, it is a symbol of your destiny. You are a Whisperer – a guardian of the wild.

As Dawn races to find the earthstone – the final link in the battle against the Narlaw – Ona struggles to keep control as the situation in the capital reaches crisis point. Can the young Whisperers of Meridina banish the shape-shifting demons once and for all?
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As far as children’s publishing is concerned, I wish we could drop the phrase ‘never judge a book by its cover’. We all do – so let’s not pretend. Let’s celebrate the art of creating attractive and truthful covers.

And while we’re at it, can we also express our delight in illustrations – for all ages. The combination of the right pictures and the right words is powerful – in a joyous spectrum from picture books to Folio Editions. I love them all. One more note on this topic to publishers: please can you make it as easy as possible for reviewers to know who created all this loveliness? Thank you.

You may take it from the above that I think Kris Humphrey and Chellie Carroll make a great team. Both make bold, straightforward art that children can enjoy – and both show Meridina to be both different to, yet echo our own world. (I have to wave cheerily at The Artful Doodlers too for the maps in all four books in the Guardians of the Wild sequence – maps give great pleasure to many fantasy fans.)

However tempting the black and purple cover is, do start at the beginning of the set. This way you will get to know the array of characters and really care what happens to them in this fast-paced conclusion to the Guardians of the Wild quartet. Begin with A Whisper of Wolves, then read Warning Cry followed by Gathering Voices. It’s fine if there’s a gap between these – each have some recaps to help you pick up what’s going on.

In The Raven’s Call, the conflict with the demonic Narlaw guarantees lots of action – but there are also moments of poignant beauty, threat and heroism. For me, the most pleasing and unexpected aspect of the whole series is the emotional growth in one of the non-magical characters. Most readers will find someone to cheer on – and (no spoilers) this person was mine. See if you can spot who I mean.

Overall – this is a lively fantasy series with hints of Narnia, and a touch of Abi Elphinstone’s passion for nature. The young characters are at the heart of everything – and the ending is sure to please. I wonder if there will be any more adventures for the Whisperers and their companions.


K. M. Lockwood lives by the sea in Sussex - see the pics on Instagram. She fills jars with sea-glass, writes on a very old desk and reads way past her bedtime. Her tiny bed-and-breakfast is stuffed full of books - and even the breakfasts are named after writers. You're always welcome to chat stories with @lockwoodwriter on Twitter.

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