Last year, 'The Good Hawk', the first in this remarkable Shadow Skye fantasy series, absolutely blew me away. It was one of my top three books of 2020. You can read my review of it here. Its sequel, 'The Broken Raven' is just as thrilling, imaginative, daring and compassionate. In some ways, I loved it even more. This is a series to rival those from the likes of Patrick Ness or Susan Cooper.
After the events of 'The Good Hawk', Agatha and Jamie have returned to Skye as heroes. But things aren't easy. The clans are at loggerheads and there are greater threats rising. In Norveg, powers are stirring once again to seek revenge. Sigrid, a girl with a remarkable gift, travels to Ingland to help form a deadly alliance to rage war against the people of Scotia. Back on Skye, Agatha releases a sinister, supernatural force which could destroy everything. So it falls to Jamie to seek out an ancient magic to stop the shadows before it is too late...
Why do I love this series so much? I think, at its heart, it is because Joseph Elliott has given us unique and compelling characters, each with an authentic and involving voice, set in a terrifyingly ancient, mythic landscape. There are three narrative voices in 'The Broken Raven': Agatha, who has a form of Down's Syndrome, Jamie, who suffers bouts of anxiety, and now Sigrid, who has a memory like no other. While in some books this could become messy, Elliott expertly propels the story on by balancing each voice with daring and tenacity - and it is simply riveting! Each character is a joy to read and I honestly can't tell you who I like the best. But I am in absolute awe of Elliot's ability to encapsulate the voice of a girl with Down's Syndrome in an alternative, frightening and fantastical Scotia - complete with demonic shadows, powerful creatures and warring clans. For this blog tour, Joseph Elliot has kindly contributed a guest feature for my website explaining how he created and developed these narrative voices. It's fascinating. Read it here.
It is not only the narrative voices that really makes this series so fantastic, it's also the story itself: full of imaginative power, terrific atmosphere, high-stakes set-pieces and sparks of light to ignite hope in the darkness. The climatic scenes of 'The Broken Raven' are some of the best I have read in fantasy fiction, full stop. My hands were burning against the pages as our characters come together in a heart-poundingly brilliant battle against the shadows. Wow!
The final book in this remarkable series is going to be quite something. I can't wait! Bravo Mr Elliott. And thank you for igniting my imagination in the depths of a winter.
Thank you also to Walker Books for sending me a copy of the book to review as part of its blog tour.