Ravencave, by Marcus Sedgwick, for Timeslip Tuesday

I am determined to get back into the swing of blogging now that both kids are back from college and I have a long month ahead with no particular busyness planned.  That being said, Ravencave, by Marcus Sedgwick (March 2023, Barrington Stock), although a really good book, and perhaps the last children's/YA book of his to be published (he sadly died in the fall of 2022 at a much too young age) is a slightly questionable Timeslip Tuesday book.  It is actually a ghost story, but there is, toward the end, enough timeslipping that I am going ahead and using it today.

The story takes place in a single day, though it is a day is suffused with memories.  Jamie and his family (two parents, older brother) are on a rather miserable family holiday in Yorkshire.  The main point of the trip is to scatter his grandmother's ashes in the region where she was born, and the father is also keen to visit places where his ancestors lived and worked.  But the weather has been awful, the father has lost his job, and the mother, a published author, is suffering from writer's block.  No one is paying any attention to Jamie, not even his brother, though they used to get along really well.

And then Jamie sees a ghost, a girl who wants his help.  She's not just any ghost, but a family member from a hundred odd years ago, and she leads him away from his family, underground where a terrible tragedy occurred.  In the shock of what Jamie learns, his spirit briefly slips through time, visiting his long ago family in the places important to their lives.  It's no more than a few pages, but it serves to connect Jamie to the land and its history, and learn how he fits into it, in a way that's very meaningful, and rather comforting.

Sedgwick did a top notch job of building the suspense of the story.  It's not just a story of the supernatural, but a story of a hurting family and their relationships to each other.  And its the story too of the injustices experienced by the ancestral family--there's a thread of socialism that will appeal to progressive young readers (it's an 11-14 year old book, I think) without being too heavy handed to disrupt the flow of the story.

Knowing that the author was facing death while writing this incredibly poignant story makes it even more powerful.  One of the most memorable of the 100 books I've read so far this year.  It's only out in the UK at the moment, but if it sounds at all appealing, it's worth heading over to Blackwells and ordering a copy (with free shipping to the US and a favorable exchange rate), which was what I did, very soon after reading this review at Magic Fiction Since Potter.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds really good! I must check it out. Thanks for sharing!


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