What the Raven Brings by John Owen Theobald

Published by Head of Zeus

1st December 2016


London, 1942: the Blitz is over but the war rages on. With the country still fighting for its existence, a young girl takes to the skies…

After her mother was killed in an air raid, Anna Cooper was sent to live with her uncle, the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London. Now, he too is dead. His dying wish was for Anna to be the next Ravenmaster, keeper of the birds who, according to legend, guard the fate of the kingdom. But the Tower authorities won’t stand for a female Ravenmaster, let alone one who is not yet sixteen years old.

Denied her destiny, Anna is desperate to escape the Tower and join the war effort. She bluffs her way into the glamorous – and dangerous – world of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force.

But no matter how high she flies, Anna can’t escape her past… nor the secret that it conceals. A secret that could change the course of the war.


My thoughts

In this sequel to These Dark Wings, Anna is now 15, her Uncle Henry has passed on and she is not allowed to become Ravenmaster as her Uncle wished. So she leaves the tower and her Guardian Yeoman Oakes and becomes a female pilot in the ATA.

The mystery of Anna’s father, who she believed drowned when she was 5, and the death of her Mother are resolved, and she struggles to come to terms with it. She also struggles as a female pilot in a male dominated world, a world in which men believed that women were only capable of housework and looking after children..

Theobald’s existing characters really grow in this instalment and we meet fresh new characters as Anna journeys into adulthood.

Anna herself grows into a complex young woman, brave and determined but also scared of the future at a time when the outcome of the war was still in the balance. The description of her first flight in control of a plane is brilliant, I believed in Anna, I wanted her to succeed, rare is the author that can instil in me the care and concern I felt, not just for Anna but for her friend, Timothy and guardian, Yeoman Oakes. I also sympathised with Anna with regards to her best friend Flo, who seemed callous and shallow when she returned from Canada, in truth, I think she was just sheltered from the true horror of what was happening in the war.

I wish that there had been a book like this when I was growing up, a book with a strong female character, who is brave, feminine, uncertain, scared, confused and mostly human.

It is also wonderful to read about the work of the ATA. These women, who flew planes from airbase to airbase, so they were where they were needed by the pilots who would carry out bombing missions and raids, seem to be the forgotten heroes of World War 2 and Theobald highlights the dangers that these women faced as they flew the plane without using radios or instruments, they literally navigated by using landmarks.

This is a great sequel, and this book was even better than the first. I cannot wait for the third and finally part of this trilogy to come out so I can find out what happened to Anna after the war, I cannot believe that she of all people would be happy becoming a housewife and mother.

4.5 out of 5 Stars

About Andrea Pryke

I have been collecting Marilyn Monroe items since 1990 and the collection includes around 400 books, as well as films, documentaries, dolls, records and all sorts of other items
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