Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle (Gabriel Finley #1)
Random House Children’s/Schwartz and Wade Publishing
Published August 26, 2014
In a world in which men have all but forgotten their friendship with ravens, one twelve year-old boy rediscovers an ancient tradition. Gabriel’s adventure begins the day he rescues a young raven and answers its riddle. With the help of Gabriel’s friends, he and his raven will embark on a dangerous journey. They must battle evil creatures to save Gabriel’s missing father.
There are some slightly dark elements in the story surrounding the evil valravens, or fallen ravens. These creatures have formed bonds with a human and betrayed him by tasting of his flesh. After this, they become evil ravens. Though they look the same as ravens, they can be recognized by their inability to laugh at a good riddle.
I found Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle fresh and intriguing. Hagen really nails writing for the middle-grade audience, creating easily digestible chapters, fanciful characters and stringing one wild adventure upon another. Because ravens begin conversations with riddles, this novel is quite peppered with them. Some will be familiar to readers, and they’re incorporated into the story in an entertaining way. Gabriel is a smart kid with great allies. I loved the way the story unfolded.
In Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle, a man and a raven can form a special bond which allows them to operate as one being. Basically one is essentially spirit present in the other’s body for a time. No spiritual significance is assigned to this activity in the context of the story.
Creepy, evil raven-like creatures try to destroy a young bird as well as Gabriel and his friends. No really gory details, though the descriptions of the bad birds are sinister.