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SIGN OF THE RAVEN by Julie Hearn

SIGN OF THE RAVEN

By Julie Hearn

Age Range: 12 - 16

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-689-85734-9
Publisher: Ginee Seo/Atheneum

When his mother’s cancer brings them both to stay with his grandmother in London, Tom finds a gap in time in the cellar that takes him back to a 17th-century freak show. The resentful 12-year-old finds first diversion and then meaning in his involvement in the lives of Astra, the tiny “Changeling Child,” and her friends, who have forged an alternative society of monsters in the cellars of London, taking comfort in their mutual strangeness when they are not on exhibit for a cruel public. Hearn brilliantly explores the emotional range of both child and mother as they grapple with her mortality and uses the 17th-century world as a vehicle to allow Tom to come to terms with both his feelings and his dawning understanding of his mother as a human being in her own right. The subtle hints that Tom’s mother, like Astra, was a victim of sexual abuse, remain barely spoken, lending an extra undercurrent of menace to the proceedings, as does Tom’s dawning realization that the relationships between the 17th and the 20th centuries go deeper than he had thought. Absorbing. (Fiction. 12-16)