Elliott, David. The Seventh Raven. Clarion Books, 2021. 192 p. ISBN: 9780358252115 $17.99. AT *****
Children’s author David Elliott astounds again with this third amazing novel-in-verse for young adults. The Seventh Raven is a retelling of a fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm of a peasant and his wife who have seven sons, yet suffer from malaise and unease, believing only a daughter can bring them happiness. Finally a daughter is born, but she is weak and struggles to breathe. Thus, in a fit of anger at his ill-fortune, the peasant curses his sons who turn into birds. The curse also carries a blessing, and the girl thrives and grows into a young woman, knowing nothing of her accursed and transformed siblings. Eventually she learns of their existence and seeks to free them from the curse with the help of a witch. T
he author employs various poetic forms which he discusses in the endnotes. The pacing of the verse has a bold, dynamic, forward-marching quality that drives the drama and danger of the story. Enhanced with black and white drawings, this is a stunning novel-in-verse that demands to be reread again and again. Each character has a unique voice and poetic form. This modern retelling does not lose the dark, foreboding tone of original Grimm’s tales, in which characters must live with the consequences of their impulsive, selfish, or ill-informed actions, yet the story concludes with a flutter of a redemptive, happy ending.
–Rebecca Jung, Belvedere Tiburon Library
Tags: Fantasy, Poetry, Supernatural, novel-in-verse, fairy tale