What the Raven Saw

Samantha-Ellen Bound's debut novel, What the Raven Saw, has several things going for it: an Australian author, a raven as hero (anti-hero?) which is pretty rare, a fairytale atmosphere. Most of my fellow book groupers loved it.

Perhaps I wasn't in the right mood. It was a hot week, I was under pressure because I only got hold of the book a day before our meeting, I had family in town and lots of errands to run. I must confess, my mind wasn't really on the raven and his problems. I found it hard to engage with this book, partly because I couldn't settle into a sense of place -- it felt as if the raven's church, and its community (which we never really got to see), had been transplanted from England into a grove of gum trees, neither one country nor the other. And I was bothered by the woolly spiritual stance -- the raven doesn't believe in God, but the priest does; there are ghosts, but no heaven -- it was all a bit vague and unsatisfying, and for a book so centred on questions of life and death, grief and loss and love, a bit more thinking through of these points might have been useful.

This is Bound's first novel, and I'll be interested to see where she goes next.

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