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Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle
Cover of Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle
Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle
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"A first-rate fantasy for middle-grade readers," declares Booklist in a starred review, comparing Gabriel Finley to Harry Potter, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, and The Mysterious Benedict...
"A first-rate fantasy for middle-grade readers," declares Booklist in a starred review, comparing Gabriel Finley to Harry Potter, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, and The Mysterious Benedict...
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Description-

  • "A first-rate fantasy for middle-grade readers," declares Booklist in a starred review, comparing Gabriel Finley to Harry Potter, Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series, and The Mysterious Benedict Society.

    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.

    "A vivid, compelling fantasy that sends you off to a world you will not soon forget." —Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth
    "A great read for fantasy lovers who have worn out their copies of Harry Potter." —School Library Journal, Starred
    "Brimful of antic energy and inventive flair, like the best middle-grade fantasies; readers, like baby birds, will devour it and clamor for future installments." —Kirkus Reviews
    From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover Ravens and Riddles

    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!"

    Then both ravens will start laughing in a coarse, throaty way that sounds rather painful, but it is just raven laughter.

    A good many raven jokes are about owls. This is because ravens fear owls. Owls prey on ravens and eat their young; they swoop down upon their victims soundlessly; they are cold-hearted killers. Ravens consider owls to be stupid and dangerous, which is why they get so upset when they hear people use the expression "as wise as an owl." There isn't an owl alive who is as clever as a raven.

    The most popular riddle ravens tell is the one about owls and sparrows.

    "How stupid is a sparrow?" the first will say.

    "As stupid as two owls!" the second will reply.

    After this, they will cackle with laughter and become fast friends.



    Why do ravens greet each other with a riddle?

    It is to tell the good ravens from the bad.

    This may surprise you, but long ago, ravens were our best friends. Ravens talked to us as easily as we talk to each other; they traded jokes and sang to babies to amuse them; they flew high above the fields and watched over our sheep; they led our fishing boats toward great schools of fish in the ocean. Out on the battlefields, as knights and soldiers lay wounded or dying, their faithful ravens would tend their wounds, give them medicine, or carry messages home for help.

    After one tragic battle long ago, a grim phantom of a bird appeared. It looked like a raven—the same beak, silky feathers, and dark talons—but its eyes glowed a sickly yellow that pierced the mist of death around the fallen soldiers. This phantom asked each raven a question:

    "How would you like to live forever?"

    "Live forever? Impossible! How can any raven live forever?" each replied.

    "It is simple," continued the phantom. "Eat the flesh of your master."

    Many ravens were disgusted and flew away; but one raven listened. He had stood by his master for hours, offering words of comfort as the soldier's last mortal breaths faded in the chill air. Death was a horrible thing, he told himself. Feeling terribly alone and helpless, he considered the grim bird's promise.

    "Could I truly live forever?" he replied.

    The phantom nodded. "One bite."

    The raven leaned over the body of his fallen companion and took the tiniest peck of flesh. First he felt ashamed; then a queasiness filled his belly, followed by an icy sensation that trickled into his heart. Suddenly, his heart began to race so fast that he thought it would burst from his chest.

    In the same instant, time began to move faster for him: the grass wriggled out of the ground in a hurry to reach the sky; the sun crossed from east to west as quickly as a second hand sweeping around a clock. Then the terrible part—he felt hunger: a nagging, gnawing, craven ache in his belly. He ate more to make the hunger disappear, but it grew worse. When his master was nothing but a pile of bones, he became horrified. Had he done this? A cold, wretched bitterness engulfed his soul.

    The hole in his belly would be there forever.

    "You are a valraven now," said the phantom to his new disciple. "Come, help me. We shall make more of our kind!"

    Soldiers couldn't tell the difference...

About the Author-

  • George Hagen is the author of two novels for adults: The Laments, a Washington Post bestseller and recipient of the William Saroyan International Prize for writing, which Publishers Weekly called "a funny, touching novel about the meaning of family;" and Tom Bedlam, which was described by Booklist as "Dickensian in scope and spirit. . . . Shot through with humor, and populated with a cast of eccentric charmers."

    George had lived on three continents by the time he was twelve. The father of three children, he now lives in Brooklyn, New York. This is his first book for kids. To learn more about the author, visit georgehagen.com.

Reviews-

  • AudioFile Magazine Listeners will find Michael Goldstrom's warm, inviting voice a reassuring presence in Hagen's inventive story of ravens, bravery, and the battle between good and evil. His voice has a hint of brassiness, which shines in his portrayals of the cunning, raspy birds. There's also a boldness in his depictions of the human characters, the fiery young Gabriel and his friends. Younger listeners will find companionship with the courageous and offbeat teens, while older listeners will respond to the darker themes and complex history of the battling ravens. Wordplay and Goldstrom's cleverly nuanced delivery add levity to dark moments, making this a rewarding listen for all ages. K.S.B. © AudioFile 2014, Portland, Maine
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from August 18, 2014
    Adult author Hagen (The Laments) makes his children's debut with a fantasy adventure touched with whimsy, satire, and the quirky love of urban fauna that characterizes New Yorkers. Gabriel Finley's parents are absent, having disappeared in separate mysterious incidents that his guardian, Aunt Jaz, refuses to discuss. But she does pass along his father's diary, which outlines how Adam Finley became the amicus, or human interlocutor, of a raven named Baldasarre. There's also the matter of Adam's creepy brother, Gabriel's uncle Corax, who likewise disappeared, leaving behind a portrait to loom over Gabriel as he seeks to solve the riddles, literal and figurative, set by ravens, uncle, and missing parents. With an unlikely crew of mismatched Brooklyn schoolmates, Gabriel takes up the mantle of the ancient, bittersweet relationship between humans and ravens in order to untangle the even more twisted relationships between human and human. Though familiar tropes abound, Hagen's sensibility is unique—the desk-wrangling scene is not to be missed. There's a hint of sequels to come, but this quest is more than satisfying on its own. Ages 9–12.

  • Booklist, Starred "A first-rate fantasy for middle-grade readers. Like Harry Potter,... Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials series,... and Trenton Lee Stewart's Mysterious Benedict Society books."
  • School Library Journal, Starred "A great read for fantasy lovers who have worn out their copies of Harry Potter."
  • Kirkus Reviews "...brimful of antic energy and inventive flair, like the best middle-grade fantasies; readers, like baby birds, will devour it and clamor for future installments."
  • Publishers Weekly, Starred "Adult author Hagen (The Laments) makes his children's debut with a fantasy adventure touched with whimsy, satire, and the quirky love of urban fauna that characterizes New Yorkers."
  • Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth "Both startling and moving--a vivid, compelling fantasy that sends you off to a world you will not soon forget."

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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