For those of us who love Sedgwick’s young adult writing, this offering for younger readers is a delightful book.
Raven Boy and Elf Girl - not their real names, but both are so embarrassed by them that they refuse to reveal them - are both suddenly made homeless by the destruction of the forest where they live. Together they go in search of Elf Girl’s missing family and the Witch Who Knows Everything, hoping to rid the forest of the ogre that is ripping up the trees. Elf Girl has her mother’s magic bow that has no string and takes some mastering, causing some surprising and hilarious results. Raven Boy can talk to the animals and calls on their help along the way, befriending Rat who has rescued them from their greatest moment of danger - the boiling cauldron that belongs to three trolls.
We meet all the characters you could want from a fairy tale: trolls, ogres, witches, grumpy inn-keepers and two resourceful and bickering heroes. We see many of Sedgwick’s recurring themes: the destruction of nature, the supernatural, children left without the protection of their parents. But rather than being a dark tale of the forest, this is an amusing romp of an adventure. The only true baddies are the trolls; even the ogre is apologetic. Written with a light and humorous touch, children can look forward to our heroic duo and Rat setting out on their next adventure to tackle the evil Goblin King.