The Seven Ravens is a cool fairy tale. It’s very similar to The Six Swans – both are categorized as “brothers who turn into birds” folktales. But I prefer The Seven Ravens. It focuses on a peasant family instead of a princess. The parents are lovely people – no evil stepmothers or greedy fathers here. A brave girl saves the day. And ravens are cooler than swans. Sorry, swans.
If you don’t know the folktale, it is the story of a peasant couple who have seven sons and desperately want a daughter. When they finally have a girl, she is sickly and dying. The father sends his boys to get water from the well for an emergency baptism, but the boys fight over who is going to do it and drop the bucket in the well. They fret, and when his boys don’t return, the father cries out and wishes they were ravens – and the curse comes true. The boys fly away, but the girl’s health turns and she grows into a healthy and pretty young lady. When she learns the situation of her birth, she takes it on herself to reverse the curse, and travels to the ends of the earth to do so.
Elliot is a poet, and his writing always reflects that. He doesn’t write in free verse like many of his YA poetic contemporaries, but chooses specific poetic forms for his works. This can make his books a bit of an academic-exercise for some, but not for me. In this book particularly, he enhances the characters through the poetic forms he chooses. The book features some lovely black and white illustrations by Rovina Cai.
If you want a quick read in an interesting format, or love fairy tale retellings, I recommend it for you!