Thursday, July 27, 2023

Review - The Seventh Raven [AUDIO]

The Seventh Raven
by David Elliott
Date: 2021
Publisher: HarperCollins and Blackstone Publishing
Reading level: YA
Book type: verse novel
Length: 1 hour 47 minutes
Format: audio book [unabridged]
Source: library

Best-selling author David Elliott examines the timeless themes of balance, transformation, and restoration in this evocative tale about a girl who will stop at nothing to reverse a curse that turned her seven brothers into ravens.

And these are the sons
Of good Jack and good Jane
The eldest is Jack
And the next one is Jack
And the third one’s called Jack
And the fourth’s known as Jack
And the fifth says he’s Jack
And they call the sixth Jack
But the seventh’s not Jack
The seventh is Robyn

And this is his story

When Robyn and his brothers are turned into ravens through the work of an unlucky curse, a sister is their only hope to become human again. Though she’s never met her brothers, April will stop at nothing to restore their humanity. But what about Robyn, who always felt a greater affinity to the air than to the earth-bound lives of his family?

David Elliott’s latest novel in verse explores the unintended consequences of our actions, no matter our intentions, and is filled with powerful messages teased from a Grimms’ fairy tale.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

When you want a cool fairy tale retelling and you get a pile of pretentious poetry.

Yeah. It's like that.

I enjoy verse novels, but I did not click with this one. I think part of the problem is that I detested Robyn, the character with whom we're supposed to relate. See, Robyn likes being a raven... but he's such an unempathetic narcissist that, when the point of breaking the curse comes, he can only think of what he is going to lose, not what nine other people are about to get back, or the fact that his sister had to literally mutilate her body to break the curse. So he goes and sulks for the rest of his life and declares he's an angel (I kid you not; we're supposed to like this weirdo?).

There's a note at the end about how different forms of poetry were used for different characters. In another format, I might've found this interesting. But since I listened to the audiobook, I didn't get to see the words on the page, which made it more difficult to differentiate the types of poems. The effect one gets from listening to this book is one of unevenness and excessive repetition.

The misandrist messaging, the unlikable characters, and the repetition all combined to leave a rather sour taste in my mouth. I love verse novels. I love fairy tale retellings. I should have loved this book.

But I didn't.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 2/5
Performance: 3/5
Originality: 2/5
Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 2 out of 5

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