Reviews /

The Rescue of Ravenwood

Authored by Natasha Farrant
Published by Faber & Faber

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The Rescue of Ravenwood: ‘A kid. That’s what she was. Not a Valkyrie or a hero, just a kid like him in a world of problems made by grown ups where being a kid didn’t amount to anything.’

The Rescue of Ravenwood is a brilliantly crafted narrative all about the bravery of young people in the face of the mess and destruction that can, at times, be created by adults who lose sight of the consequences of their actions and choices. 

The story begins with the formation of a blended family composed of an uncle who takes on board the raising of his niece, and his ‘angel’ Martha who rescued him while he was struggling with his new found baby companion and her son Raffy. Raffy and Bea’s connection is forged straight away. Later the family is joined by Noa, who comes to stay for the summer holiday while her mother is stranded in a faraway country following an earthquake

Ravenwood is their haven. Especially the summer holiday. A time for swimming in the sea by the cove, climbing and completing their treehouse in ‘Yggdrasil’ their four-hundred-year-old tree, exploring wildlife or playing on ‘Skidbladnir’, the Viking longboat Leo made out of an old oak tree that smashed into the kitchen of Ravenwood. It’s their family oasis, and the adventure begins when a number of forces threaten this haven. Our brave and wilful heroine, Bea, a red head who does not conform to a female gender stereotype, is always backed up by her loyal best friend Raffy. Bea has a difficult relationship with her parents to whom she feels a sense of anger for rejecting her whilst at the same time wanting so much to have their love and acceptance. Raffy, a mixed-race boy who, from the beginning, shows great sensitivity to the feelings and actions of others and has an admirable love of and understanding of nature. Noa is navigating her parents’ split and her dad meeting a new woman, and the feeling of abandonment she is suffering by no longer being his primary focus. This theme of abandonment is consistent throughout the book, with Ravenwood holding place as the symbol of love, consistency and family for them. 

The summer we join our eleven-year-old heroes is one of turbulence and disruption. Bea’s parents want to take her away to see if they get on enough to have her back living with them, the brothers who own Ravenwood are in conflict about its future, and it is now under threat from a potential buyer. On top of all this, the house needs renovating, and Leo and Martha are struggling to meet the costs. The questionable Ant has arrived with big ideas for the house.  Chaos ensues, resulting in Bea embarking on a brave adventure, leaving her parents in Venice and finding her way back to Ravenwood through European rail services and with the help of some inspiring confidantes along the way.

Throughout the book, the reader is confronted with the often frustrating outcomes of adult choices and behaviours. Natasha Farrant manages this beautifully by allowing each of their stories to evolve as a way for young readers to explore how life is very complicated and difficult and how the behaviours of adults are caused by their own vulnerabilities. There is a beautiful compassion to the storytelling. 

The story is full of adventure and pace. The writing is gripping, and it is incredibly difficult to put down. There is a timeliness to the themes in this book. Especially at a time when young people are having to comprehend the actions of the adults before them and their impact on our society and environment. Whilst at the same time, being offered the perspective that we are all just doing the best we can in our situations and that life isn’t just a case of right or wrong.

An absolute must for an upper KS2 reading area or use as a core text. An inspiring call to action to stand for what is right.