Gabriel Finley & the Raven’s Riddle

Gabriel Finley & the Raven’s Riddle is the story of a young boy and his connection with ravens.  The book is reviewed by Melissa G. at Sweet on Books.

What you need to know:

• Gabriel Finley discovers that he has a special connection with ravens, and he hopes that this revelation might
lead to the whereabouts of his missing father.
• Some ravens in the story become evil by eating human flesh.
• Riddles and puns are used throughout the book.
• This book is the author’s first novel for kids.

Sweet Book Summary:

A young boy named Gabriel discovers on his 12th birthday that he has a special relationship with ravens. He learns that he, along with his father and uncle, are each the “amicus” of a raven which means that they can communicate with ravens and even “paravolate” or merge with them to fly. Riddles, a favorite hobby of Gabriel’s, are the way that ravens greet each other, and these greetings also help them to know the good ravens from the evil valravens. Gabriel’s father and uncle have been missing for years, so with his new-found knowledge, Gabriel decides to search for them. Luckily, he has a few friends, both human and fowl, to help him because he will need to get past the evil valravens and their leader, Corax, in order to find his father.

I liked the usage of riddles and puns throughout the story and the quirky characters were compelling, but I thought the story was somewhat lacking in depth and purpose. There are not-so-subtle messages about forgiveness and selflessness, and a great scene of self-discovery when they cross a bridge over the Chasm of Doubt, but the plot resolves too easily and the magical elements are limited. The only real violence is the killing of birds, but the one thing that is a little disturbing is the way that the valravens become evil. It happens when they eat the flesh of their amicus – a human. I’m not a bird person, so the basic concept of a world where birds communicate – and sometimes swarm/attack – is not at all appealing to me, but for those who don’t mind that aspect of the story, there is some fun to be had here. And for those who do like it, there is likely to be a 2nd, as the ending sets up perfectly for a sequel.

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