MrsK's Seasoned Reader Picks

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle by George Hagen

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle 
ISBN: 9780385371032

Net Galley Synopsis:
A fast-paced, exciting—and emotionally rich—fantasy
novel for middle graders that reads like a cross between Harry Potter and The Phantom Tollbooth.
How can 11-year-old Gabriel find his missing father, who seems to have vanished without a trace?
With the help of Paladin—a young raven with whom he has a magical bond that enables them to become one creature—he flies to the foreboding land of Aviopolis, where he must face a series of difficult challenges and unanswerable riddles that could lead to his father ... or to his death.

MrsK's Review:

In Gabriel Finley's world, our every day ravens love riddles.  Yes, I said that those black "menacing" ravens like speaking and solving riddles.  Did you know that a "good many raven jokes are about owls... because ravens fear owls... they consider owls to be stupid and dangerous... There isn't an owl alive who is as clever as a raven."

At the time, Gabriel "didn't know anything about ravens..." but he liked riddles because he enjoyed unlocking them and trying to discover the double meanings in the words:  When is a door not a door?  Now just for a moment, think about what it would be like to be raised in a home where instead of sports... riddles were your daily challenge, entertainment, and connections with your father.  You will realize just how much of a "riddle master" Gabriel's father truly was if you accept this "riddled" journey with Gabriel.

As Gabriel turns 12, he learns of a quest that very few are allowed to embark on.  His father has gone missing. his mother has been missing since he was born, there's a new boy in seventh grade that for whatever reason wants to "cheat" off of him and keeps hanging around, and there is this raven (Paladin) that begins appearing every where.  Gabriel's Aunt Jaz remembers that his father once kept a diary, in which he discovers that his father knew a raven by the name of Baldasarre.  Within the diary are very important clues to events that will help Gabriel discover his skill of paravolating.  On his twelfth birthday, his aunt remembers there is a gift his father has left him, it turns out to be a riddle of sorts. Why would an old key be so important that his father prepared it as a specific gift for... a specific age?  And now there's this new girl in school, Abigail Chastain (I personally adore her).  Add in these obnoxious visitors and a writing desk that is on the move.  You do know that riddles can be more than words...  Why after all these years would his Uncle Corax's mysterious departure be such a major "key" to where his father has gone?

I must let you know a bit about the raven, Paladin.  He is learning all about the history of ravens and humans.  His mother instructs him in the skill of "meaningful" riddles (think of these riddles as being multi-layered investigative research).  Paladin learns about the evil Valravens, these ravens are not the type of playmates any mother would want hanging around the neighborhood.  He is being schooled about the dwarf's underground dungeons and mazes of Aviopolis.  Then during one of his lessons, Paladin's mother provides a riddle:
"Every house has one of me, 
I will not let you in, you see,
Unless you feed me with a meal
Of jagged brass or hardened steel.

The promise within the covers of this journey is that you will be "mystified" by the paralleled paths for Gabriel and Paladin.  As each of these characters are uncovering their true quest, the riddles they are given are meant for you.  You can discover the "intersections" that are just around the corner for them... if you have the skill to decipher the meaning behind the words! 

Are you willing to travel this path?  Do you know how to keep Corax from finding the torc?  Are you good at solving riddles?
Please help Gabriel and Paladin...
MrsK

   Meet the Laments—the affably dysfunctional globetrotting family at the center of George Hagen’s exuberant debut novel. Undeniably eccentric, the Laments are also universal. Through the Lament’s restlessness, responses to adversity, and especially their unwieldy love for one another, George Hagen gives us a portrait of every family that is funny, tragic, and improbably true.
 
When is a book like a key?

"I received this ebook for free from Net Galley for this review."
http://www.randomhouse.com/book/236795/oliver-and-the-seawigs-by-philip-reeve

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