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The Raven's Children by Yulia Yakovleva Book Review: Breaking the Silence around a Dark Period of History

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The Raven's Children by Yulia Yakovleva and Ruth Ahmedzai Kemp (translator), £6.99 (Puffin Books, 9780241330777)
Publication date: 5 July 2018
My rating:★★★★☆

A bestseller in its native Russia and translated into English for the first time, The Raven’s Children was written to ‘break the silence’ surrounding a dark and largely hidden period of history. However, despite its setting of Stalin-era Russia, a time of terror, paranoia and the Secret Police, Yakovleva delivers an accessible, engaging and resolutely hopeful story.

This is achieved through the courageous protagonist, seven-year-old Shura, whose innocent world is shattered after his family—Mama, Papa and baby brother Bobka—vanish overnight, spirited away by a mysterious figure called The Raven. Nevertheless, Shura determines to find them himself, navigating a hostile, unpredictable city where birds talk, the walls have eyes and few can be trusted.


As Shura discovers the truth about the Stalinist regime, fact and fantasy are in…