Archive | November 3, 2014

How Is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?: A book review of Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle

Gabriel FinleyAwhile ago I wrote three posts entitled “The Next Harry Potter” with suggestions of possible book series  that could fit the bill, so to squawk – I mean speak.  For volunteering at the Minneapolis Book Festival this past October, I received a number of free books, many signed by the author.  One of those was Gabriel Finley & the Raven’s Riddle, the first book in (I hope) a series, that like Harry Potter has the titular figure trying to make his way in a new and strange magical world.

Gabriel Finley is an orphaned boy much like other boys in children’s stories.  He lives with an eccentric aunt and doesn’t really know what happened to his parents.  That all changes when one day he discovers he can talk to ravens, and that he and ravens share a common love of riddles.  The book takes readers to a magical world involving ravens, riddles, puns, and a powerful, elusive necklace called a torc.  It may be a bit gruesome in parts for younger readers, but on the whole is a fun story in which kids learn to work together to solve the case and to understand one another.  It’s also a great Halloween tale with several riddles for readers to solve throughout the book.  It reminds me a little of Harry Potter, The Mysterious Benedict SocietyThe Lord of the Rings, and Narnia.  It also has a few odes to Alice in Wonderland.  My favorite element in the tale was a raven-clawed writing desk that likes to dance and disguise itself in people clothes.

The story is unique in its affection for word puzzles as well as birds.  I do hope there will be a sequel of some kind, as there are many hints that birds aren’t the only magical creatures around in this world.  It’s authored by George Hagen and you can find more information about the story at

How Is a Raven Like a Writing Desk?  I’ll let you be the judge of that after you’ve read the book.  🙂