Ravenfall

 
4.5 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
364 0
Ravenfall
Age Range
10+
Release Date
August 30, 2022
ISBN
978-0593483589
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Thirteen-year-old Annabella Ballinkay has never been normal, even by her psychic family’s standards. Every generation uses their abilities to help run the Ravenfall Inn, a sprawling, magical B&B at the crossroads of the human world and the Otherworld. But it’s hard to contribute when your only power is foreseeing death.
 
So when fourteen-year-old Colin Pierce arrives at Ravenfall searching for his missing older brother and the supernatural creature who killed their parents, Anna jumps at the chance to help. But the mysteries tied to Colin go much deeper than either of them expects. . . .
 
As the two team up to find answers, they unearth Colin’s family’s secret past and discover that Colin has powers beyond his imagination. And now the supernatural creature, one with eerie origins in Celtic mythology, is coming after him. If Anna and Colin can’t stop the creature by Halloween night, the veil to the Otherworld could be ripped open—which would spell destruction for their world as they know it.

Editor reviews

2 reviews
Nicely Dark Mystery!
Overall rating
 
4.3
Plot
 
4.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
Anna's mother (Nora) and father run the Ravenfall hotel, which caters to people with supernatural powers. Their big event every year is Samhain, which is quickly approaching, making for lots of work. Anna is a bit sad that her own powers are limited to seeing other people's experiences with a death if she touches them. It's not really very helpful, unlike her twin sisters Kara and Rose, who have special insights into reading people. At a party one night, someone brushes against her, and she immediately has a picture of a man and woman who have been killed, but she can't find the person. Later, when Colin shows up at the hotel, as instructed by his brother Liam in the even that the two of them were separated, she sees the same vision. Colin and Liam's parents were killed, and Liam has gone missing. Colin has his car, and it turns out that Nora was friends with Colin's parents. He's welcome to stay, they say, but his recent trauma isn't helped by learning that his parents were part of the same magical community, but left suddenly when he and Liam were very young. It definitely doesn't help when he is attacked by Kaden, a man who has been following him. It's even worse when it turns out that Kaden is a wraith. Colin needs to learn about his own magical powers quickly, and learn to use the ancient knives that have been handed down by his family. Anna is helpful in getting Colin up to speed with most of the magical world (the cat is really a Jabberwock, the house is alive, her family is filled with psychics), but struggles to keep him safe and help him fight. Kaden has assembled other wraith friends to hunt Colin down, Liam's whereabouts are still unknown, and Samhain is quickly approaching. Will Anna be able to keep Colin and Ravenfall safe?
Good Points
Like Plum's Die for Me, Harrington's Clarity, or Baguchinski's Spookygirl, Ravenfall invites us into a fairly dark and exciting world of magic and throws in a double murder to keep things moving along. I love that we see Anna's world with all of it's intricacies and eccentricities, but that it isn't over explained. It's a magical house. They have a variety of guests with different powers. Colin showing up out of the blue is not all that surprising, and when he's attacked (which reminded me of Brennan's The Demon's Lexicon!), no one is really surprised. There's some interesting Irish traditions and magic, and a lot of supportive family. There's even a great scene where Anna and Colin have a moment to take a breather and sit in a cozy room drinking wish cider that made my heart happy! There was a lot of action and scary stuff, so seeing them in a less frantic moment was especially nice.

The cover looks too young; this is much more like Perez's 2008 Dead is the New Black and other Young Adult books from fifteen years ago that were deliciously paranormal and bridged the gap between middle school and high school readers. After all, we do have Colin's parents brutally murdered, which I was not expecting with this cover. This is just going to make it a bit more difficult to get this book into the right hands.

My students will love this book, and I hope it will rekindle an interest in some of the other paranormal murder mysteries that I have. I've sort of forgotten about some of them, but I've had a lot of Twilight fans (whose mothers read the books when they were younger) who will probably enjoy those books as well as Ravenfall and its sequel!
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Embrace the Weird
Overall rating
 
4.7
Plot
 
5.0
Characters
 
5.0
Writing Style
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
 
N/A
What worked:
The author presents a magical setting with creative ideas driving the plot. The Ravenfall Inn in Wick, Oregon, is run by a family of psychics, and humans visit for various reasons. Some are oblivious to the strange goings-on, others come for the mystical aura, and some guests arrive looking for answers. The inn acts as another character and sees to all of the common tasks required to run a hotel. It listens when the family talks, replies using shakes and groans, cleans laundry and returns it to the guests’ rooms, and even provides delicious feasts. A jabberwocky named Sam, in the form of a black cat roams the grounds and guards the border between the Otherworld and the human world. While it doesn’t speak, it displays a sneaky, kind, protective, and mischievous personality that makes it a memorable character.
The point of view alternates between Anna and a teenage boy named Colin. Colin’s parents are murdered while in witness protection, and before fleeing the scene, his brother Liam tells Colin to meet him in Ravenfall. Colin has no idea about the existence of magic, so sharing his observations, thoughts, and confusion help readers realize there’s more going on than the characters know. Why hadn’t his parents said anything to him about where they met, who they were, or how Colin is connected to Wick? His point of view shares the emotional aspect of his parents’ murder and his mixture of fear, uncertainty, and desire for revenge. Anna’s point of view adds knowledge of how the magical world works, and readers will empathize with her need to prove she’s a useful member of the family. She balances Colin’s strong feelings with logical thinking on how to navigate the magical community and its potential dangers. The author provides uncertainties and vague memories that create questions about characters and potential outcomes for the problems. An ancient evil might be back.
Everyone in Anna’s family has a magical ability, but Anna thinks hers is the only one that’s useless. How can touching someone and seeing death lead to anything good? She’s more withdrawn than her siblings out of fear of what she might see and does her best to avoid contact with others. Her lack of a positive self-image is a major concern throughout the story, especially when she discovers Colin has abilities too. She also wonders if she’s having dreams or premonitions during the night, as the images are very unsettling. All of these factors create an internal conflict for Anna and sometimes hamper her efforts.
What didn’t work as well:
The alternating points of view are effective, but there are moments when I need to remind myself if a chapter is about Anna or Colin. This is not a major issue or distraction, but it happens.
The Final Verdict:
Embrace the weird. Colin learning to master his new powers is a main focus and is common in many middle-grade books, but it’s interesting how it’s only one part of the whole story. The family’s support of him is equally important in the adventure, and the resolution is only possible with their teamwork. The book offers sensitive character interactions, playful humor, and action-packed battles that will appeal to many young readers. I highly recommend you give it a shot, and I’m looking to its sequel called “Hollowthorn” coming in 2023.
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