{Review/Giveaway} GABRIEL FINLEY AND THE RAVEN'S RIDDLE by George Hagen

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O P E N I N G   H O O K:

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle
   Ravens love riddles. 

In fact, ravens greet other ravens by telling a riddle. When one meets another, he'll introduce himself by asking something like: "Can a raven and owl be friends?"

The other might shift from one foot to the other, puzzled, because ravens and owls are mortal enemies. But then he'll think of an answer like:

"Yes, if the owl is stuffed and mounted on the wall!"

(Page 3 US paperback edition)

“You see, riddles stretch your brain. They force you to look at problems in a completely different way.” 


Fantasy and adventure has been the dominating genre for middle grade readers for a while now. Sure we get books like Wonder or the Middle School series by James Patterson to break things up, but a good fantasy/adventure book calls to kids like siren song. It's hard to search the shelves and pick up a book that isn't Nancy Drew, or The Hardy Boys and think "Yes...yes this is a mystery." Instead the trend seems to be to create a hand in hand collaboration between a good mystery AND a fantasy.

GABRIEL FINLEY AND THE RAVEN'S RIDDLE is the best of both worlds. There is adventure; treks to secret underground cities, dangerous enemies and unexpected allies. With talking ravens and a main character who has the ability to bond with them on a magical level, you know that your fantasy needs are taken care of as well. The mystery slips in, wraps around you like a warm blanket. You never forget that it's there. First, there are the clever riddles that are sprinkled throughout the series. What a great sort of hero to provide to middle graders...someone who combats with his mind, not a sword or some superhero. As Gabriel likes to say, riddles stretch your brain, and in this book they have an undeniable importance. Not only that but if you're an older reader then you get a sense of nostalgic fascination, remember the times in your youth when you found riddles fascinating and hilarious.

The mystery aspect doesn't end with a riddle, of course. There's Gabriel's overarching questions as to his father's sudden disappearance. The history of his family's connection to raven's is revealed in tiny puzzle pieces of plot...the reader learns what the character's do. The intriguing thing is that a big chunk of the book volleys back and forth between Gabriel's journey to answers, and the parallel experiences of a baby raven named Paladin. Eventually their stories overlap as it becomes clear they are bonded - amicus- is the term used in the book. There's a sweet sort of pull towards both these young characters, who end up alone without their parents, slowly being told there is a weight on their shoulders most young minds (human or raven) would ever have to deal with.

Gabriel and Paladin are supported however, by various characters throughout the book. Each ally or enemy have an intricate role to play. In my opinion there are no empty sidekick roles in this tale. Some of them surprise you, some of them switch sides, which only keeps your mind questioning what is going to happen next. The ending is satisfying, while leaving one last smidgen of mysterious possibility to keep you hoping for a sequel.

My only complaint is that I never did get a finite answer to one riddle present in the book. Why is a raven like a writing desk? Maybe if you pick up a copy of GABRIEL FINLEY AND THE RAVEN'S RIDDLE you'll exercise your brain until you come up with an answer of your own.


Content Ratings: highlight between ( ) for details

Romance: G ( There are instances of a character possible having a crush on another, but there aren't really acts of romance. )
Language: G ( No cursing)
Violence:  PG ( There are a few instances of fighting related violence in the book.Most of these moments are brief and skirted over abstractly)
Other:  --
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

I love how big the title is, and the way Gabriel's name stands out from the rest of it. The cover is dark and ominous, while still making you know that you're looking at a middle grade appropriate book. I like that Gabriel is a shadowy figure on the cover, personally I like to have more wiggle room to put a character's face together in my head, as opposed to having a cover image dictate their features. The ravens, the crumbling bridge, the underground city, all make you curious about what sort of adventure the characters are going on.
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: George Hagen
Release Date: September 6th 2016
Publisher: Yearling
Received: Purchased

A tangle of ingenious riddles, a malevolent necklace called a torc, and flocks of menacing birds: these are just some of the obstacles that stand between Gabriel and his father, Adam Finley, who has vanished from their Brooklyn brownstone. When Gabriel rescues an orphaned baby raven named Paladin, he discovers a family secret: Finleys can bond with ravens in extraordinary ways. Along with Paladin and three valiant friends, Gabriel sets out to bring his father home. They soon discover that Adam is being held captive by the evil demon Corax—half man, half raven, and Adam’s very own disgraced brother—in a foreboding netherworld of birds called Aviopolis. With help from his army of ghoulish minions, the valravens, Corax is plotting to take over the land above, and now only Gabriel stands in his way.


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