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Sign of the Raven Hardcover – September 27, 2005


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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-9–Tom, 12, would rather be home in Dorset enjoying his summer vacation and hanging out with his mates. Instead, his cancer-stricken mother has driven them both to London to stay with her estranged mother. As soon as they arrive, Tom begins to hear voices from across the gap, a time portal in the basement of his grandmother's house. The voices belong to a group of adults and children with physical deformities who have been sideshow attractions at Bartholomew Fair for much of their lives. Tom enters their 18th-century world and, with the assistance of some 21st-century technology, helps to free them from their oppressive lives. In the process, he comes to terms with his own family history and renews his hope for his mother's recovery. Dark in tone and suspenseful from the outset, the story contains many gruesome details from this period in English history. They include grave robbing by unethical surgeons looking for specimens for dissection, and the genuinely disturbing implication that female freaks, including a young girl among Tom's companions, were offered as exotic prostitutes. Hearn's sympathetic characterizations of Tom's friends make their degradation all the more troubling, and their release all the more uplifting. Fast-paced, creepy, hard to put down, and definitely not for the fainthearted.–Beth Wright, Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, VT
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Review

"Sign of the Raven leaps so many gaps -- between present and past, good and evil, life and death, the ordinary and the truly extraordinary."

-- Geraldine McCaughrean



"Julie Hearn [is] someone whose work I always read with pleasure."

-- Philip Pullman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (September 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0689857349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0689857348
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,862,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Teen Reads on February 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Julie Hearn first became known in the United States in 2005 with the publication of her highly successful, brilliantly plotted historical novel THE MINISTER'S DAUGHTER. Now American readers can indulge in Hearn's first novel for young readers, originally published in the United Kingdom in 2003. Although SIGN OF THE RAVEN lacks some of the plot twists that made THE MINISTER'S DAUGHTER so provocative, it nevertheless is a thought-provoking, exciting historical novel that will appeal to fans of Hearn's other fiction.

Twelve-year-old Tom and his mother, who's recovering from breast cancer, are spending the summer holidays at his grandmother's home in East London. Tom has a bunch of problems; on top of his mom's sickness, he has to deal with being away from his friends and trying to figure out the tense relationship between his mother and grandmother. And then, the voices in the basement start calling to him. The voice, which seems strangely familiar to him, calls from across a gap in both space and time.

The voice belongs to Astra, a tiny "changeling child" who's one of the circus "freaks" on display at the Bartholomew Fair in the early eighteenth century. Astra and her friends, like the Bendy Man and the Gorilla Woman, are constantly in peril, not only from the unscrupulous management and the fair's patrons, but also from physicians who would love to dissect their unusual bodies and perform experiments on them. When Tom is called across the gap, he is drawn into London's dark underbelly to help his friend. In the meantime, in the present day, Tom is finding out troubling secrets about his own family's history.

SIGN OF THE RAVEN is creepy, evocative and detailed as it portrays events of history, often in earthy and surprisingly straightforward terms.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jorge Avendaño on November 2, 2004
Format: Paperback
This novel is a fine example of a well planned story, it takes you to several different times, and spaces without losing grip of the story arc.

For us non british readers, brings us closer to the smells, noises and ways of English people, and gives everyone a glimpse of worlds as magical as J.M. Barry used to imagine, but with a sour lemon twist that makes us remember the low and dirty streets of the novels by Doyle.

Gaze at "follow me down", remember that there's always something down in the basement.

Jorge Avendaño
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Format: Hardcover
What a creepy book! But the characters are very real. You want them to succeed in their "escape plan." Tom is the kind of kid that you'd want in your family and yet so typical of his age.

Rarely has anyone read a book concerning the terrible conditions that circus freaks must have lived under, and I'm not sure many people have thought about it. And, having not heard of Julie Hearn before, I'm looking forward to finding "The Minister's Daughter" in our library.
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Format: Hardcover
read this book for a school report and loooooooovvvvveeeddddddd it!!!!! The plot is intricate and beautiful and the characters are extremely well developed! Any avid reader who thinks they've read everything in the world deserves this book!
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