FLOOD AND FANG (The Raven Mysteries #1)

Review From User :

Flood and Fang was one of the first books on my kindle to-read list. In a nutshell, Raven (the castle's resident raven) spots a number of potentially nasty things going on in Otherhand Castle, and tries to draw them to the attention of the weird and wonderful characters who inhabit it.

The ink-washed design of the cover is reflected in the illustrations and motifs by Pete Williamson that punctuate the text. It is visually appealing - a chapter book broken up into small chunks, encouraging readers to go on, as if the narrative wasn't encouraging enough! I started reading the raven's story and thought there was a lot of complicated information about the castle and its inhabitants. I wondered at the vocabulary in use (extensive) but realised the pace and the delivery would encourage readers to learn new words and not lose the story. I very soon lost my author-head, and continued in reader-mode, rollicking through a delightful story of gothic daftness, mystery and adventure. The little boxed paragraphs at the start of each chapter seemed to be a quirky extract from a history of the castle, but by halfway I'd realised these were useful clues for the reader, if not an integral part of the plot.

Sedgwick reminds me to use the sort of names that kids love. I wondered how many might look up Spatchcock to find out that it isn't just a made-up funny word, but an old-fashioned way of cooking game birds - but then I looked it up myself and found it was also "to insert (a phrase, sentence, story, etc) esp. incongruously" both of which suit the owner of the name admirably! I love Valevine's fear of the use of the Glottal Stop, which, being a mystery to the raven, becomes his catch-all phrase for anything scary!

It's a story that would be suitable to read aloud to eight years and up, but would engage older children reading to themselves, and probably become one of those well-thumbed books, even on an eReader. In fact, I expect I'll read it again, it's such fun. This is the second Marcus Sedgwick book I've read, this time for a younger audience, and I loved it just as much. I'm now a confirmed fan.

Genre: Fantasy | Mystery | Humor

Meet the wonderfully weird Otherhand family and their faithful guardian, Edgar the raven, and discover the dark secrets of Castle Otherhand. Edgar is alarmed when he sees a nasty looking black tail slinking under the castle walls. But his warnings to the inhabitants of the castle go unheeded: Lord Valevine Otherhand is too busy trying to invent the unthinkable and discover the unknowable; his wife, Minty, is too absorbed in her latest obsession – baking; and ten-year-old Cudweed is running riot with his infernal pet monkey. Only Solstice, the black-haired, poetry-writing Otherhand daughter, seems to pay any attention. As the lower storeys of the castle begin mysteriously to flood, and kitchen maids continue to go missing, the family come ever closer to the owner of the black tail…

Flood and Fang: The Raven Mysteries, Book 1 (Unabridged)