'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Review: The Raven's Wing

On the night before her fifteenth birthday, Claudia is suddenly summoned to Rome by her father, a man she barely remembers. Claudia has been living for the past ten years with her aunt and uncle but now finds herself living with her father, a rich and powerful Roman senator, and his new family – her step-mother Prisca and her two step-sisters Aurelia and Sabine.

Claudia has much to learn about life in Rome. While she slowly adapts to life in the city, she must also adjust to her new family situation and the expectations of her step-mother, which include plans for a strategic marriage. Claudia is torn between her desire to be obedient to her father’s wishes and the social expectations of the time and her wish to follow her heart. When tragedy strikes, she becomes even more confused. Who can she trust?

The Raven’s Wing is a wonderful combination of history, romance and mystery. Readers are transported to Ancient Rome thanks to Frances Watts’ detailed descriptions. We learn about everyday life for a wealthy Roman family including details about food, clothing, jewellery, servants, household management, shopping, hobbies, social customs and some brief comments about the politics of the time.

We also learn, with Claudia, that a daughter’s role was simply to further the career of her father and/or husband. Claudia and her step-sisters are expected to marry men strategically chosen by their parents regardless of personal preference.  There is an added element of mystery, with a tragedy that reveals that everything is not as it seems in her father’s household forcing Claudia to exchange concerns about her romantic future with worries about her own safety.

I love the little details about Roman life shared in this well-researched novel. I have always been fascinated by Ancient Rome and I enjoyed learning about the household customs with Claudia as she adjusted to her new life. The romance and intrigue of the plot combined with the historical setting result in an interesting and engaging coming-of-age story sure to be enjoyed by tween and younger teen readers who enjoy historical fiction.

You can read Frances Watts’ guest post about the research for The Raven’s Wing here.

Title: The Raven's Wing
Author: Frances Watts
Publisher: ABC Books, $16.99 RRP
Publication Date: 1 August 2014
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9780733332913
For ages: 12+
Type: Middle Fiction, Young Adult Fiction