cover image The Seventh Raven

The Seventh Raven

David Elliott, illus. by Rovina Cai. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99 (192p) ISBN 978-0-35825-211-5

Rich with evocative language (to “bake the coarse bread/ And spin the fine thread/ And weave the rough cloth”), this subtle verse novel retells the Grimms’ “The Seven Ravens” through a lens of perseverance and change. Though all his parents want is a daughter, “girlish” misfit Robyn lives a stifling life as the youngest of a temperamental woodsman’s seven competitive sons. When their sister, April, is born “dying and thin,” their father angrily curses all seven to become ravens; Robyn discovers a love of flight while the others experience only torment. Fifteen years later, upon discovering her brothers’ smocks, April sets out with a carved harp to find them and loose the spell, a quest that will require a horrible sacrifice from the book’s femme characters. Elliott (Voices) makes the propulsive mix of formal and concrete poetry and blank verse sparklingly accessible for teen readers, with repetitions and Cai’s (Elatsoe) inky illustrations weaving multiple narrators into a beautifully unified volume. Fans of lyrical retellings such as Malinda Lo’s Ash will find this bittersweet quest a warm welcome into myth and verse. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 14–up. Author’s agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary. (Mar.)