Peter Dickinson: The Seventh Raven

An illustration of the power of context:

Lately I’ve been writing quite a bit about fantasy novels marketed to young adult audiences (probably to the dismay of many readers, but that’s beside the point for now). I was on the Amazon website perusing lists of people’s favorite young adult novels, and in a list with a bunch of genre authors, I found The Seventh Raven described like this: “Too bizarre to actually describe here. Let’s just say you’ll never read anything quite like it again.” I have the impression that I looked it up somewhere else and read a comment along the lines of “This is a book about . . . no, actually, it’s better if you just find out for yourself.” (I can’t find that comment now, though, so I could be wrong about that.) Anyway, the information I had was enough for me to request it from the library. It sure looked like a fantasy novel when I picked it up; the cover features a grim-looking kid wearing an elaborate raven headdress.

If I had read an accurate description of what the The Seventh Raven is “about” (plot-wise, and to some extent thematically) I never would have read it. And that would have been a shame, because I liked it a lot. It seemed quintessentially British, in a good way: precisely and insightfully written, rather dry-humored, and somewhat reserved even when depicting loud and raucous events.

The list I found it on described it as “little-known.” If that’s true (I’d certainly never heard of it, which proves nothing) I suspect it’s in part because it doesn’t fit neatly into a single genre at all. It’s a good book, I’d say, in at least two genres. Where do you file it? How do you market it?

And I agree with the source I can’t find and may have manufactured — better not to know anything at all of what genres the novel might or might not fit in. I will tell you that you’ll have a first-person 17-year-old female narrator as your guide, and mention that I recommend it doubly if you’re a musician of any stripe, and that’s all you’ll get from me. If you wind up with the same edition I read, maybe you could put some sort of slipcover on it. That way you won’t embarrass yourself showing the front cover in any public place, and you’ll reduce the risk of reading the back cover ’til after you’ve finished.

Needs More Demons? Nope.

Published by therealsummervillain

likes: equality, making things easier to use, biking, jangle, distortion, monogamy dislikes: bigotry, policies that jeopardize people, lack of transparency

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