Ravenwood is a YA fantasy adventure from author Andrew Peters.
Ark, a fourteen-year-old apprentice to his plumber father, hears something he shouldn't hear.
Something that could get him killed.
Arborium, their huge, mile-high tree of a country, is being plotted against by Maw, a country of glass and steel and technology. Maw sees Arborium as a gigantic gold mine, as wood is now a natural resource even more precious than that very substance.
And the plot is coming from the inside. From those who are supposed to be the most trusted advisors to King Quercus.
It was just a terrible time to be fixing a pipe.
Next thing you know, Ark is running for his life - and trying to figure out how he can save his tree home before Maw comes with axes and evil intent!
A fight-or-flight opener throws us right into the action of this unique tree world of Arborium and immediately has an espionage/thriller tone. Andrew Peters doesn't waste much time!
The idea of an entire country living an enormous, carved tree was fascinating to me and I looked forward to learning more about it in Ravenwood. There's an entire culture and vocabulary that Andrew Peters has invented to match up with this different way of life. It's fun and inventive.
Then we find out that ravens are as big (if not bigger!) than people! I was having a hard time figuring out how exactly this all worked, but in the end I just accepted it - because after all, it's a fantasy! And we are being presented with a fleshed-out, intriguing world!
Ravenwood is definitely a lively fantasy adventure with a plot that thickens at each turn of the page. For example, there's a mystery to Ark's birth/roots and an entire mythology/religion to Arborium that may or may not be true. Plus, there's an inspirational bent to the novel as well as we see Ark's low-level, rather unpleasant job in sewage and see how he may be destined for greater things.
It's easy to enjoy this nonstop suspense roller coaster! Ravenwood has a strong focus on friendship and family, which is brightened by the fact that the characters are excellently portrayed and joyful - they make a delightful journey all the more delightful.
As the novel continues and revelations occur, the cloak and dagger fun and magical fantasy mystery give way to a surprisingly bloody and weightier final quarter. At first I was a bit taken aback, because Ravenwood is also given to being quite silly and lighthearted - the sudden (I felt) change to a darker tone was unexpected. Some of the new twists were a bit heavy and muddy, in my opinion, but the classic hero battling evil and facing important, moralistic choices was still highly enjoyable and well-done.
In the end, Ravenwood had more grit and patriotism, with highlights on the honor of sacrifice for one's country, than I at first expected from this action adventure. Yet it strengthened its depth this way, and made it more epic. Though I may have been more taken with the fun, lighter aspects of the earlier tone - a reread may very well change that.
A good choice for any age that's a fan of this excellent genre!