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Raven Girl


Raven Girl

“Fairy tales have their own remorseless logic and their own rules,” Audrey Niffenegger writes in the acknowledgments of her new novel, Raven Girl. The text of the book illustrates what she means: A human postman tasked with delivering an oddly addressed letter finds the intended recipient in a nest of ravens. He falls in love with the raven, and together they have a daughter, the titular Raven Girl. (“The Raven and the Postman stared at their daughter, unsure whether to be delighted or horrified,” Niffenegger slyly and humorously writes after the blessed event; the reader feels the same.)
Raven Girl began as a challenge from Wayne McGregor, the choreographer of the Royal Ballet in London. He asked Niffenegger to come up with a new fairy tale that he would choreograph a dance to; she complied, and this mesmerizing illustrated book is the result. It’s an uneasy story of foreboding and change; the Raven Girl is never quite happy as a girl yet never quite meant to be a raven. (Yes, it sounds slightly silly, and it is, which Niffenegger embraces, making the story more compelling, rather than less.)
Niffenegger illustrates the story throughout with dark, stark images. (To be sure, this is not a traditional graphic novel, but rather a novel with some illustrations.) The images are beautifully rendered; the story, with its tone of imminent danger and regret, is universally relatable. The Raven Girl seeks out a doctor to transform her into the being she feels she should have been since birth; a human boy who loves her tries desperately to prevent the transformation. A story like this could easily fall into common tropes, but Niffenegger is a far more interesting writer than that. She likes surprises.

Reviewed by John Hogan on April 23, 2013

Raven Girl
by Audrey Niffenegger

  • Publication Date: May 7, 2013
  • Hardcover: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Abrams ComicArts
  • ISBN-10: 1419707264
  • ISBN-13: 9781419707261