The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London

Christopher Skaife. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-374-11334-6
In this lively and often cheeky narrative, first-time author Skaife puts a human face on the Beefeaters (aka Yeoman Warders)—the ceremonial guardians of the Tower of London—and the distinctive ravens under their care. According to legend, these birds merit special concern because if they depart, “the Tower itself will crumble into dust and great harm will befall the kingdom,” writes Skaife. Short, entertaining chapters juxtapose history and myth with ornithological facts and an inside look at one of London’s most popular attractions. Skaife introduces readers to the Tower’s seven ravens and shares stories illustrating their quirky personalities (Merlina, for example, has a keen eye for Pringle’s potato chips, which she spots and steals from pedestrians), and chronicles his childhood, military career, and rise to ravenmaster, “the oddest job in Britain.” Balancing fascinating tidbits (a raven’s need for order and routine) with macabre details (blood-soaked dog biscuits and ghostly sightings), he titillates as he educates, rehabilitating the gloomy reputation of the raven. Skaife’s conversational style and disarming candor make this a rollicking tale fit for nearly any armchair adventurer. Agent: Anna Sproul-Latimer, Ross Yoon Agency (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 07/16/2018
Release date: 10/02/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4434-5594-7
Compact Disc - 978-1-250-29811-9
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