The Broken Raven – Joseph Elliott

Stars: ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Having read the first instalment of this series, The Good Hawk, I was really excited that the second book had arrived! I don’t want to give too much away in this blog in case you haven’t read the first yet (and if you haven’t, I suggest you do!) as I really try not to have spoilers – but it’s a sequel, so there may be some!

In the second book, Agatha and Jamie have rescued their clan which has made them heroes. But a new threat has been uncovered which puts lives in danger; once again they are going to have to overcome obstacles and face challenges to ensure their survival.

This time, there is also Sigrid who has an unusual gift. She needs to risk things to save not only herself, but the people of Skye. Can this mysterious newcomer help Agatha and Jamie with their own adventure?

I have absolutely loved immersing myself in the world that Joseph has created; with action and gripping drama throughout, it really keeps you guessing! I loved the diverse selection of characters, something which I think is so important. We need to be reflecting children in the books they read and demonstrating to them that they are not alone. Our differences are often our strengths, something which both The Good Hawk and the Broken Raven highlight.

To find out more about this brilliant series, I am lucky enough to have a Q & A with the author himself, Joseph Elliott.

The Good Hawk was a great book for including diverse characters. Why do you think this is so important?

I think diverse representation is one of the most important aspects of writing for children. We live in such a wonderfully diverse society, yet too often this is not reflected in the books that are published for young people. Every child deserves the right to see themselves reflected in the books they read; how else are they supposed to feel like a valued, respected member of society? In addition to that, reading about the lives of people outside our own experience helps us to develop empathy; there are so few children’s books featuring a protagonist with Down’s syndrome, and so I made it my mission to rectify that. Agatha challenges stereotypes and defies her naysayers, and through doing so, proves that you should never judge someone on first appearance.

Agatha and Jamie continue their adventures in The Broken Raven. Which character do you think you’d most like to go on an adventure with?

Agatha for sure, as I know she’d always find a way to cheer me up when things got difficult. I’d also love to travel with Cray, just for the opportunity to ride a Highland bull. 

I really liked the way the chapters flicked between characters and were written in their ‘voice’. Did you find this easy to do, or did it take a lot of thinking about when writing? 

Thank you. I find distinctive voices really help me write, as I can hear the characters clearly in my head, and then the words flow out much easier onto the page. Maybe it comes from my background as an actor and script-writer. In The Broken Raven, I introduce a new character called Sigrid whose voice is full of quirky slang:

‘The door opens with a bang. It’s Mamma. Sure as the moon she’s been drinkin today. I take a step back but she grabs my arm before I’m outta reach. Swear Øden she’s got the strength of a growler when she’s been neckin.’

I had great fun coming up with all the idiosyncratic things she says. I developed a dictionary as I went to make sure the voice was consistent all the way through.

As you planned the trilogy, was it clear what would happen in each book or did it develop constantly as you wrote?

I’m not a strict planner as I love the spontaneity that often comes in the moment, so the books developed as I wrote. With The Good Hawk in particular, I had a clear beginning and end point, but very little idea how I would get from one to the other! I had to plan books 2 and 3 slightly more to ensure I was fulfilling the necessary story and character arcs, but I still allowed myself a large degree of creative flexibility. I definitely prefer working that way.

What do you think is the most important theme in the book? 

Probably difference and acceptance. There are many different clans and cultures in the books, and each has their own set of values and belief systems. As the young characters are exposed to these differing opinions, they (and through them, the readers) are forced to challenge their own beliefs – including some controversial opinions that have been drummed into to them by their elders since birth. Ultimately, they come to realise that people’s differences can often be their greatest strengths.

If you could sell your book in 5 words, they would be…

“Game of Thrones for teens”

I would like to say a H U G E thank you to Joseph for answering the questions so brilliantly!

Like the sound of this book? Buy it here:

Emily x

📚 Book gifted by publisher.

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