Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a starred review, PW said, "The author transports readers to a craggy seaside town for this sweeping story of a blossoming friendship between a young woman outsider and a young man whom the townsfolk deem mad." Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 1999: Jordan is a New Zealand writer, and in her afterword, she says she purposefully placed this story of Marnie and Raven in an unknown time and place. Yet, she has created a fully realized world of small village life on the sea, a peasant culture, a time when few people can read and write, a time when people believe in witchcraft and are quick to blame anyone who is different. Marnie is a young woman who married an older man for security for her struggling family; they travel away from the farm community she knows to a place of strangers. The physical side of marriage is a horror to her, but luckily her new husband dies two days after the wedding. The local villagers blame Marnie for his death, and the only person who is kind to the young widow is the local priest, who becomes a major character in this story. The third character is Raven, a boy about Marnie's age who is wild, unable to speak, without family. He too is protected to some extent by the priest, yet frequently he is beaten by villagers who assume he is possessed by the Devil. Marnie allows Raven to take refuge in her cottage when he needs shelter and food; she discovers he is deaf and they haltingly learn to communicate with sign language they create together. These hand flutterings only give the villagers more consternation, proof that the two are evil and must be punished. A climactic scene occurs when Marnie is arrested as a witch and to escape certain death she agrees to a witch trial-an ordeal by fire. Marnie, the priest, and Raven are unforgettable characters, unique individuals whose lives tell once again the age-old story of ignorance, prejudice, and healinglove. Since Jordan has worked with deaf children, the creation of the language Marnie and Raven use and their frustrations are acutely realistic. KLIATT Codes: JS*Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1999, Simon & Schuster, 266p, 21cm, 98-23283, $8.00. Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; January 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 1)
Children's Literature - Janet L. Rose
For her family to keep the overseer's cottage after her father's debilitating accident, Marnie must marry the lord's second son and set up housekeeping in his grandmother's cottage by the sea. Two days later her husband is killed when a rafter crushes his skull. Marnie is relieved although the village people feel she is responsible for his death. She befriends a deaf man, Raven, who people think is mad. Marnie and Raven learn to communicate with hand signs, which further convinces the villagers that she is a witch. The characters are either good or bad so it is very easy for young readers to identify with Marnie and Raven, to feel their pain when the villagers torment them, and to cheer them when they succeed. The plot is plausible and the historical events such as Marnie's witch trial are depicted realistically. Marnie does things that are morally right although not accepted. She has the courage to stand up to the community and accept Raven for what he truly is-not crazy, but frustrated and angry at not being able to communicate and be understood.
VOYA - Rayna Patton
Newly married to an impoverished nobleman, Marnie travels with her husband to the distant village of Torcurra. As she enters the village Marnie sees the locals whipping a poor youth, a seeming lunatic. The home her husband Isake has promised is a hovel; he himself, a drunk. Marnie's brief, unhappy marriage ends when Isake dies in a fall. She is left to deal with the villagers, who blame her for Isake's death and soon suspect her of witchcraft. Only the local priest, Father Brannan, is Marnie's true friend, and before long the boy, Raven--who is not mad but deaf--responds eagerly when Marnie communicates with him by signs. Before he died, Isake promised that his ruined cottage held a treasure. Soon Isake's brother arrives in Torcurra, and tries to drive Marnie out. His insinuations encourage the villagers to seize her as a witch, and Father Brannan must administer the terrible ordeal that alone can prove her innocence. Marnie is acquitted and marries Raven, her true love, but the couple can never overcome the villagers' hostility and must leave Torcurra. Raven has found the cottage's treasure, a gem encrusted ring, and they will sell it stone by stone as they build their new life. The distinguished scholar Dr. Norman Canter has attested to the authenticity of this medieval setting. With sympathetically believable characters and a terrific plot, the story brings to life the prejudices and passions of a distant time and place. VOYA Codes: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12).
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
eaking, tortuous scene where she must carry hot metal in her bare hand. Physically branded as different, Marnie allows friendship to become love, understands true physical attraction, and accepts her differences. Romance, suspense, adventure, and emotions combine with courageous, haunting characters who take on a world steeped in an ignorance that they have no power to change.
Library Journal - Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-When a headstrong young woman accused of witchcraft befriends a deaf young man believed to be possessed by the devil, a turbulent yet deeply satisfying romance evolves. Richly realized and evocative. (May) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-A historical novel set during the Middle Ages. Marnie, 16, is forced to marry an older man due to a series of family misfortunes. After just two days with her drunken husband, she prays that something will happen so that he will no longer desire her. That very day he falls from a ladder to his death. In terror, she goes to the village priest, crying out that she is at fault for Isake's demise. Three old women overhear her and set the gossip mill in motion. As these tragic events swirl around her, Marnie gets to know Raver, a young man viewed as an idiot by the villagers, who beat him mercilessly to "whip his devils out." Marnie pities him at first, and fears him a little, until she deduces that he is deaf. She renames him Raven and invents "hand words" that become their own private language. Their relationship, plus the strange signs they constantly make, convince the villagers that Marnie is a witch who must be destroyed. This highly absorbing story has well-realized characters that come fully alive. Marnie is smart, independent, and strong willed. Raven is quick and intelligent, but naive. As their friendship deepens into love, an innocent but very real sensuality surfaces. There are rich details here about living conditions in the Middle Ages. The powerlessness of the peasants and the superstitions fostered by the Church, including a trial for witchcraft, are vividly portrayed. This is an ageless story about the power of love that should leave a satisfying and lasting impression on its readers.-Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Against a medieval setting far away and long ago, Jordan crafts a passionate and sensuous tale. Marnie, 15, comes to Torcurra, newly wed to a lord twice her age. He brings her to a tumbledown cottage that belonged to an ancestor, and in two days falls to his death in a drunken stupor. The villagers are deeply suspicious of Marnie's role in his death, and become more so when she befriends a wild boy believed to be possessed by demons. Marnie finds out that Raver, as he is called, is actually deaf; she renames him Raven and begins to communicate with him in rudimentary sign language. Her only friend is the village priest, who finds her recalcitrant but full of goodness. Beyond some bodice-ripper elements, Jordan adeptly conveys the rhythms of ancient country life, of the tides and the plantings, of festival and gossip; also nicely spun out is the blossoming romance between Raven and Marnie. Fire and sweetness, the pulse of daily existence, how to cope with differences, and the several kinds of love are all present, wrapped in a page-turner to keep readers enthralled. (Fiction. 12-14)