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The Raven's Secret

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Worth reading 😎

A time-travel adventure takes Saira through a whirwind tour of Native American culture and the history of her fragmented family.

The Raven's Secret intrigued me from the outset. Saira, the main character of the tale, struggles with her parents' divorce. An intelligent girl who loves new cultures, Saira finds more than she imagined due to a mysterious artifact which unlocks the world of time travel. While exploring cultural lore, Saira also discovers more about herself. Untangling a decades old mystery, while adapting to her newfound abilities, Saira meets many new friends on her journey through time.

The narrative is strong, and the characters are memorable and relatable. The mystery kept me interested until the final page. But like a symphony that ends mid-stanza, the book leaves off with unanswered questions. Saira's complex family history leaves far too many threads unwoven. Wamta's story left me wishing there had been more, and the grandfather's story leaves many questions, especially his secret "gardening" project. Since this is a book in a series, I can only hope that the loose threads will be untangled in a later entry.

Additionally, it is important to remember that this is a work of fiction. While the author takes inspiration from Native mythology, particularly the Comoks Tribe, much of the lore belongs to the author alone. The land around Vancouver Island is expertly described, and the inclusion of Native legends in an effort to broaden cultural understanding is commendable. However, there are details which detract from my overall enjoyment. The Cherokee names included were not accurate. The Cherokee word for "frog" is "walosi" or "kanoona", not "tooan-tuh", and the word "Satsam" does not appear to be of Cherokee origin at all. The Syrian name "Saira" was accurately translated, but I do not have enough experience with the Comox language to verify the accuracy of the Comox words. I am also not certain why the book's title is The Raven's Secret when Saira's interactions with the other spirits was much more integral to the plot. Although the Pacific Northwest trickster Raven makes several appearances, his secret is still a mystery to the reader at the close of the book. Some words were consistently misspelled, and the color of the friendship bracelet changed mid-book. These details, while small, seem greater because of the expert research in other areas.

As a Cherokee historian, I am glad to see a story which focuses on cultural understanding while including Native lore. While some of the inaccuracies detract from the book, the overall story of a girl finding her place in the world and learning more about her family is intriguing. Perfect for a rainy afternoon, this book is good for the middle-grades, especially those who love to broaden their cultural horizons.

Reviewed by

Hello! I am Dakota Love, and I am an indie author, blogger, and book reviewer. I have published over forty indie titles, including "The Allies: Family and Friends", "The Guardian of Freedom", and "Coyote Stories: Legends of a Manitou." I love nothing better than to discover new stories.

About the author

Rae Judy worked as an international journalist and communications specialist before taking to the challenge of children’s book writing. This is the first in a series of cultural time travel books that Rae hopes will inspire younger readers to learn more about different ways of being in the world. view profile

Published on October 14, 2020

60000 words

Genre: Children's

Reviewed by