I received a free copy of this book to review. However, the following review is my honest opinion.
You know how attics are full of junk but while cleaning them out, you always find a treasure or two? Weeelll, Aidan and Nadia’s attic is a little different. Just a bit. While cleaning their attic out, the twins (Yes, they are twins whose names are mirror images. Smart, right?) discover an ancient mirror. On its own, it’s innocent enough, but when an old guy manifests in the mirror and starts writing messages out at them, they get a little freaked. But also curious.
As any wise 13-year-olds know to do, Aidan and Nadia ask their grandmother when they can’t figure out what the old guy is trying to tell them. It turns out he’s writing in old Irish and telling them to “Look in the Mirror”. Of course, they’ve been staring into it the entire time, so this message frustrates them. However, when Aidan comes to the conclusion that they should look inside the actual physical mirror, they find a black rock.
No, no, this isn’t as anticlimactic as it sounds. In fact, it’s rather exciting. A raven flies out of the mirror and bursts into sparks in the middle of their attic. They grip the rock and a jolt of energy shoots through them. Oh, and then they find out they’ve been transported a day into the future, in their own house. And if they don’t want to screw up time forever, they have to avoid meeting themselves.
The Quills: 9/10
Then it was gone. The light was gone. And her beloved twin brother was gone. There was nothing but the soft breeze, the quiet, sunlit opening in the forest, and the chamber door behind her. All was as it was before.
Except now, she was alone.
– Diane Solomon & Mark Carey, The Ravenstone
The Ravenstone is a (lower) middle-grade fantasy novel told in third person. Nadia is the narrator for most of the novel, but there are little snippets where the point of view shifts. It’s done eloquently, however, so the POV shifts never seem abrupt.
I say this is lower middle grade because the protagonists are 13. Kids tend to read about people older than them, so that would make this novel’s target reading group around 10-13 years old. The voice and tone of the novel are very suited for this age group, except in a few places here and there. For example, I’ve never known a 13-year-old boy to say, “We need to be constructive, here” or to use the word “a-jumble” when describing his room after someone riffled through it. Most kids I know would just say, “Someone messed up my room”. Those parts aren’t really a huge issue, but there are some words that 11-year-olds probably aren’t familiar with. Oh well, that’s what dictionaries are for.
The characters are really cute. The world is seen from the perspective of these kids and I think it was wonderfully captured. The world is really interesting and well thought-out, and every leaf and branch is there, on the page. The world is described so well that the magic practically jumps off the page and feels real. It’s absolutely wonderful.
The plot is actually quite interesting. It’s not completely linear, like most middle-grade books (well, the kids are time travelling back and forth) but still easy enough to follow for younger readers. The overarching source of conflict may feel a little trivial for some older readers, however, as it’s based on the fact that the twins don’t want to move. It becomes compelling, however, when you take into account all the different subplots, which are what really move this book along.
It’s told at a brisk, but not too crazy pace, so you understand every aspect of what’s going on, but you also don’t get lost in the details of the magic. That’s something I find some fantasy novels struggle with, so this was a really refreshing read.
The Roses: 9/10
I really liked this novel! I struggled a bit at the beginning because the novel didn’t start off with a very spunky middle-grade voice. I guess I’m too used to reading upper middle grade. Once I got into the subplots, though, it was great.
This novel kind of reminds me of those Magic Tree House books I used to love (anyone remember those? Or am I too old?). Except, with more sophisticated plotting and writing.
There was a lot of suspense and mystery. The bad guys were terrifyingly bad and the good guys were cute and smart and good. Older readers may find that a bit too simple, but for the middle-grade category, this novel is up there with the greats.
Conclusion: If you’ve ever wanted to go on a magical time travelling adventure with a pair of smart, inquisitive twins (or are doing some Christmas shopping for young, avid readers) be sure to check The Ravenstone out!