'Raven Summer’ leads two teens to both adventure and danger in this evocative young adult novel.
When boys dream of woodland adventures, hiding out where adults will never find them, they no doubt imagine exactly the kind of place where Liam Lynch and his friend Max found the Death Dealer. Although just an old, tarnished pruning knife uncovered as the two were “messing about, digging for treasure,” in Raven Summer, David Almond’s skillfully crafted young adult novel, it becomes a symbol of both the adventure and the danger that boyhood summer held.
As Liam and Max play their war games, find secret places, stash food and compasses for future forays, a raven calls out, mysteriously beckoning the boys. Following the raven’s call, they discover a baby girl wrapped in a blanket next to a jam jar crammed with money. And that’s not even the most extraordinary thing that happens.
Exploits of the menacing Gordon Nattrass, Liam’s childhood friend now turned bully, contrast with the bucolic setting – blue skies, sheep grazing in shimmering fields outside the kitchen window. Inside Liam’s house in northern England, his mum, an artist, photographs odd scenes for a gallery opening while his writer dad does what he always does – keeps on with his scribbling, turning his son’s coming-of-age summer into a story.