The Raven’s Children

Publisher: Puffin books

Review

It’s 1938 and siblings Shura and Tanya are good Soviet citizens and comrades. But they know there are spies and enemies everywhere.

Then one night, their father disappears. Their mother says he is away on a business trip, but the next morning, she’s gone, too, along with their baby brother.

Shura and Tanya can’t believe she’s actually left them – and now their neighbours won’t have anything to do with them, either. It’s as if they’ve become invisible.

Shura has heard of people being taken in the night by the Raven, but no one wants to talk to him about it. Determined to find his family, he decides to find the Raven himself. Tanya doesn’t believe in the Raven, until they jokingly ask a bird about him, and the bird answers…

Gripping and at times quite surreal, the blend of historical fiction and magical realism set a striking atmosphere to provide a glimpse of Stalin’s campaign of political repression in the Soviet Union. Inspired by true events from the author’s family past, Yakovleva notes that those who lived through – and survived – this period of history avoid talking about it.

A popular book in Russia, this is the first in a series.

This book was an In Other Words honour title in 2017

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