Today is my stop on the TBR & Beyond Tours for The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis.
Special thanks to Bloomsbury Children’s Books for providing an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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Goodreads: The Raven Heir (The Raven Heir #1)
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
Publication Date: 05 August 2021
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
A set of magical triplets, two warring dynasties, and a broken crown waiting for its rightful owner…
Deep within an enchanted forest lies a castle where a set of triplets and their sorceress mother have lived for years — safe from the decades-long war for the Raven Throne that rages in the kingdom beyond. Cordelia, one of the triplets, has the power to become any animal with just a thought, and she yearns to discover more about the world outside her castle.
But one day, the world comes to her, when the eldest of the triplets becomes the newest heir to the throne. Knowing that being named heir means certain death, Cordelia’s mother hid the truth about which child is the eldest when she hid them in the forest. When her family is captured, it’s up to Cordelia to use her powers to keep her siblings hidden and discover the truth about the Raven Heir — before it’s too late.
A thrilling new fantasy full of magic, adventure, and the power of family.
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Stephanie Burgis grew up in East Lansing, Michigan, but now lives in Wales with her husband and two sons, surrounded by mountains, castles and coffee shops. She attended the Clarion West science fiction & fantasy writing workshop in 2001, just a year after completing her time as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Vienna, studying music history, in 1999-2000. After spending three more years as a PhD student studying opera history at the University of Leeds in the U.K. (focusing on opera and politics in 18th-century Vienna and Eszterháza, and doing the research that would later result in her first novel for adults, Masks and Shadows), she went to work for a British opera company and stayed there until the onset of a serious chronic illness, M.E./CFS, forced her to give up work outside the home and focus purely on her writing (and, later, on her parenting, too).
Since then, she has published over forty short stories for adults and teens in various magazines and anthologies. Her most recent MG fantasy novel is The Raven Heir (Bloomsbury 2021). Her most recent publication for adults is the romantic fantasy novelette Frostgilded, an epilogue to the Harwood Spellbook series, while her new series of adult fantasy rom-coms, Regency Dragons, begins in October 2021 with Scales and Sensibility.
Note: The quotes below are taken from an advanced/unfinished copy and are subject to change in the final version.
TL;DR: The Raven Heir was a fun and fast-paced middle-grade fantasy full of magic, life-altering secrets, and power-hungry royals! The characters have really interesting abilities, such as being a shape-shifter and being able to influence others via the spoken word, and the author does a great job of depicting realistic family/sibling relationships. The sibling squabbles definitely had me chuckling! 😅 I haven’t read anything by this author before but their writing style made this a very easy read. Overall, this was an action-packed and adventure-filled start to a new middle-grade fantasy series that I think readers will enjoy!
“Real families don’t abandon one another, […] and our family hasn’t broken after all.”
The story is told through Cordelia’s POV. Cordelia is one of the triplets but unlike her siblings, she has always felt a pull to the world outside the ‘safe’ and hidden bubble their mother created to protect the children. She is also a shape-shifter and I thought it was really cool to learn that she could shift into any animal she wanted! I thought it was unique the way she experienced the world differently with each animal and it was clearly depicted by the author. Part of the triplet alongside Cordelia are Giles and Rosalind, both of whom have inherited different powers of human sorcery. Of the three, I have to say that my favourite was Giles! He has such a bubbly and delightful personality and I thought his power via spoken word was really cool—it was like compulsion by song! The triplets also have an older brother Connall, who is the “good boy” who strictly follows their mother’s endless rules, but for good reason, and although we only get small glimpses of him, he was a level-headed presence that brought a comforting vibe to the story, especially compared to the triplets.
There’s a strong focus on family relationships in this book and I think Burgis portrayed them very well. There was a lot of squabbling between the triplets as they journeyed to uncover the truth of the land, and while at times it was a little frustrating, it was also entertaining and very relatable—I mean, I could definitely see my siblings and me squabbling in the same way! 😂 Yet despite the rough patches they experienced along the way, and their difficulties in setting differences aside, it ultimately served to strengthen their bond and increase their appreciation for each other. I loved how they stick together, bolster the other when their confidence falls and have each other’s backs.
I think I would’ve liked this book more if the world-building was stronger, which is also why I feel it reads on the younger end of MG (which is not really an issue since I’m not the target audience). There’s not much clarity on the political history of the warring families or the magic system, which is a pity because there is a lot of magic and different kinds, too! For example, the triplets are admittedly untrained in their powers but on the course of their journey they are able to easily and quickly master those powers but it’s not clear how they did it or how they knew how to do it. Though I enjoyed the fast pace of the read, it also read too fast at times as there was more telling than showing. However, this seems to be the first book in a series, so there’s potential for these aspects to be further developed in the following books. I hope that we also get to learn more about certain characters, like Connall and I’d love to even get different perspectives from the other siblings, too!
- It’s fast-paced, action-packed and full of fun adventure through a dark forest and broken land.
- Easy-to-read and highly entertaining (especially the sibling squabbles), it’s a story that’s fit for all readers but especially young middle-grade readers!
- Our main character has awesome shape-shifting abilities and can change into anything she wants (who wouldn’t want that power?)!
- The other characters also have cool magical powers, such as the ability to influence others through spoken word, mostly songs (song compulsion?)!
- Realistic and relatable family relationships, especially between siblings!
Have you read The Raven Heir or is it on your TBR?