Monday, 13 June 2011

Marcus Sedgwick - The Raven Mysteries

Title of the series: The Raven Mysteries
Author: Marcus Sedgwick
Pub. year: 2009 - 2012
Pages: 256 (or so)
Editor: Orion Publishing

Summary: Meet the wonderfully weird Otherhand family and their faithful guardian, Edgar the raven, and discover the dark secrets of Castle Otherhand.
Edgar is alarmed when he sees a nasty looking black tail slinking under the castle walls. But his warnings to the inhabitants of the castle go unheeded: Lord Valevine Otherhand is too busy trying to invent the unthinkable and discover the unknowable; his wife, Minty, is too absorbed in her latest obsession - baking; and ten-year-old Cudweed is running riot with his infernal pet monkey. Only Solstice, the black-haired, poetry-writing Otherhand daughter, seems to pay any attention. As the lower storeys of the castle begin mysteriously to flood, and kitchen maids continue to go missing, the family come ever closer to the owner of the black tail...

Flood and Fang is the first in a brand new six book series of tales of mystery (with a touch of goth-froth) from bestselling author, Marcus Sedgwick, with quirky black and white line illustrations from new talent, Pete Williamson.

I had to pick the summary from the book one of the series, Flood and Fang, in order for you to get a glimpse of what to expect from this lovely series. The fifth volume is already out in hardcover but if like me, you enjoy those nice monochromatic paperback covers, only thefirst three are currently available.

So, what's it about this Otherhand family? Well, one thing I can tell you, you'll have great fun with them. I don't know if you watched The Addams Family or Beetlejuice series on TV when you were kids, but these are pretty much the same kind of stories: funky goth characters, lots of silly jokes, adventurous kids, weird parents and extraordinary events occurring in an old strange mansion full of ghosts. Goth-Froth, they say. Yeah, whatever.

In this series, you will find a lot of pointless things (like Minty's many passions for cake tins, knitting, pottery...), a lot of complaining, some frighteningly-funny creatures tagging along and a couple of animal squabble. Because let's not forget who's the hero of these books : Edgar the raven! Yes, a raven is telling the story, and I must say he is one of the most delightful and entertaining creature I have encountered so far. And like my favorite pirate, he hates monkeys-especially Cudweed's Monkey, Fellah. Nasty little fellah, if you hear me.

I don't know if you've been following me at all, but if you have, I think there's a chance that you might have picked up on the fact that I have, how should I put it... a very bad opinion of monkeys.
I mean, to put it plainly, what are monkeys for? Really?
It's a question I suspect you will struggle to answer because I have wrestled with it myself ever since the arrival of Fellah at castle Otherhand, and I have found no satifactory answer.
Are they useful? No.
Do they look nice? Definitely not.
Do they sound nice? They do not.
Do they smell nice? Quite the opposite!
And furtermore, if the pickle-brained specimen we have to live with is anything to go by, they seem to be masters at being loud, irritating, smelly, ugly and rude.

Even though this is intended for kids, I fully enjoyed the first three books (or was it the kid in me?) and I recommend it to anyone at any age. The illustrations by Pete Williamson are pretty much awesome and fit very nicely with the story. These are some of the most funny books I've read so far, written in a simple but elegant style, and I am simply dying to read the next three.
I could kill a monkey for a it, can you believe that?!

2 commentaires:

Don't you speak about this book in your french blog not so far? It tells me something...
But one more time I'm affraid I won't enough understand the vocabulary. I really need to improve it before reading so original stories. (And as you can see in this text, I need to improve everything in English. Haha.)

Yup, I also mentionned it on my French blog, it's a pity the series is so unknow in France while it's so good and funny! But as I always say, these are great books to start reading in English, I'm sure you would love them.

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