The Raven’s Song by Zana Fraillon and Bren MacDibble

The Raven’s Song 
Author: Bren MacDibble & Zana Fraillon
Published: October 5 2022
Publisher: Allen and Unwin
Readership: Middle Grade Fiction
Rating: ★★★★.5
RRP: $16.99

I received a copy of The Raven’s Song from the publishers for review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A wonderful children’s novel by two stellar writers featuring Shelby and Phoenix, living 100 years apart yet unexpectedly joined across time – and each make the discovery of a lifetime that has the potential to upend their worlds.

‘This is how we have to live now.’

Shelby and her best friend Davy live quiet low-tech lives in a closed community that is made up of exactly three hundred and fifty kind, ethical people living on exactly seven hundred hectares.

When they climb through a hole in the perimeter fence to venture into the surrounding jungle, what they find is more astonishing than anything they could have imagined.

And when Shelby realises the terrible danger that is unfolding, it will take all of her daring and determination to ensure the past does not repeat itself.

Intriguing, absorbing and spine-tinglingly good, The Raven’s Songis a brilliant novel by two esteemed writers at the height of their powers.

Every now and then you see a combo of author’s writing together and you stop and think, ‘Gee, that’s a powerful writing team.’ That was definitely my first thought when I heard that Zana Fraillon (author of The Bone Sparrow) and Bren MacDibble (author of How to Bee) were writing a book together.

The Raven Song is a story told from the perspective of two characters with 100 years – and a life-changing discovery – between them. Shelby lives in a future where humans live in communities of 350 people (no more, no less) on seven hundred hectares of land. They live sustainable lives, with everyone having a purpose, a role to play in minimising their impact on the land after humans wrecked havoc on the world decades earlier. When she and her best friend find a hole in the fence, they begin to investigate beyond their walls and discover things beyond what they could have imagined.

This is a an interesting tale, told both in the past and present, as the characters deal with a modern day pandemic (not COVID, but similar, so be aware that it may be a sensitive topic to some readers), and then also a post-climate change world where life looks very different to what it does now.

Shelby is an inquisitive character who loves her life but is also unwilling to settle for just that. She’s intrigued by history and what happened to the world to make it the way it is, and she’s unafraid to go exploring to find out about it.

It’s a deeply atmospheric book, and deals with humans trying to save the planet in the ways that they know how – and while it doesn’t always work out, there’s a persistence there that’s admirable. This book will definitely open up discussions around a post-pandemic life, the challenges of climate change and what we can do to minimise the harm we do to our environment, especially looking at the ways that Shelby’s community have worked to help return the land to sustainable usage.

As always, both Bren MacDibble and Zana Fraillon have crafted a thought-provoking book together, that will likely end up on many awards lists in the future.

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