By Author / Illustrator
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Paperback / softback
Cordelia and her triplets Rosalind and Giles have lived safely in the castle at the centre of the forest all their lives, protected by the spells their mother has woven. The only time Cordelia feels truly free is when she turns into a dragonfly or a blackbird and can fly beyond the great stone walls. But then one day the outside world comes to them. Two rival dukes and their soldiers have come for the triplets - because whoever is the eldest is the heir to the throne. But when their mother refuses to reveal which child is the eldest, she is taken prisoner, and Cordelia and her brother and sister find themselves on the run in a dangerous new world.
Safe in the forest, Cordelia, Giles and Rosalind are shielded from the fighting that has ravaged the kingdom of Corvenne for generations. When two Dukes bring the war to their door, they are forced to flee before the crown can be placed upon one of them. With their mother captured and destiny waiting for them, they must harness the magic they possess if they are all to survive the Raven Crown to which one of them is heir.
The Raven Heir is an epic tale of magic, myth and mysteries, where family counts for all and nothing in a world where power is sought above all else. Stephanie has created a fantasy world to lose yourself in. From the enchanted forest we first land in, to the soaring mountains, we can see, hear and feel the landscape we travel through with the triplets every step of the way.
Cordelia, Rosalind and Giles all have unique characters and abilities that blend to build a stronger trio than their strengths and balance their weaknesses. Cordelia is headstrong and independent, Rosalind is forthright and protective, and Giles adds gentleness and wit. I loved seeing the sibling squabbles as they faced trials and tribulations along their journey.
What it means to be family underpins the whole story, along with Cordelia's connection with the land she lives in and the magic it contains. While a secret threatens to unravel the triplet's relationship, the issues this brings up are dealt with carefully and allow for discussion beyond the book to build empathy around different family types and relationships. The first in the series, I can't wait to find out what lies in store...
272 pages / Reviewed by Nicola Cleveland, school librarian
Suggested Reading Age 9+
The Raven Heir is a wonderful opening book to what I hope will be a popular series amongst MG readers. Cordelia and her triplet siblings live in a castle with their mother and older brother, in the middle of a forest protected by the spells their mother has woven around it. They have been safe there, until one day their world changes forever; their mother and older brother are taken prisoner and they must go on the run. One of them is the heir to the Raven Throne, but their mother will not reveal which of them is the eldest!
The triplets are wonderful characters, who take you on an action-packed and emotional journey. The world-building is beautifully crafted, from the enchanted forest to the desolate wastelands and I cannot wait to see where the story will go next!
272 pages / Reviewed by Andrew Mullen, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+
Cordelia, her brother Giles and sister Rosalind have never known anywhere but the castle in the middle of the woods that their mother has raised them in. Their lives have been filled with the love and care of their mother, Alys, and their older brother, Connell. Although triplets, the three have very different skills: Giles, caring and compassionate, the communicator, the negotiator; Rosalind: the warrior, the defender, the protector; and Cordelia, at one with nature. That never-ending pull to be outside means that Cordelia escapes the confines of the castle whenever she can. Their mother's magic flowing through their veins, they each have powers just waiting to be developed and nurtured.
Cordelia - the shape shifter - uses hers to escape into the woods whenever she can: a bird, a mouse, a scurrying beetle; whatever it takes to be where she feels she belongs. Through her escapades outside the castle, she eventually puts her family in danger as the warring Dukes find their castle and demand that the eldest triplet be returned to the kingdom to take up their place on the throne. A place that only brings death to the occupant as others fight to remove the latest heir in order to claim their place. But who is the eldest? None of them know.
With the help of their mother's magic, Cordelia and her siblings manage to escape. With their mother's cries to run and stay safe spurring them on they start an adventure that sees each of them develop their powers until the time comes when they must pay the ultimate price or sacrifice all that they hold dear.
Stephanie Burgis's The Raven Heir takes the reader on a magical adventure full of sibling rivalry and family bonds. Through the eyes of Cordelia, we embrace the triumphs and tribulations from each challenge the children are faced with. This is a magical tale that supports the unique gifts that each individual brings to every challenge.
Curriculum links: Family, accepting difference, belonging, working together, belief and love.
272 pages / Reviewed by Donna Burkert, teacher
Suggested Reading Age 9+