Crowfall by Vashti Hardy

Written by Vashti Hardy, Cover by George Ermos, Published by Scholastic

One happy day at the beach with Crowfall and I was hooked. Unable to put it down, I spent my day following Orin on a huge adventure into the unknown world.

Ironhold is a large, imposing island where class divides are normal, punishments are harsh and there is one supreme leader. The leader is the only one allowed to commune with the Eard, a life giving and Island sustaining plant. Overhearing a horrific plan to destroy the island and its inhabitants, Orin is discovered and must flee with his robotic best friend Cody. He is horrified at what will happen and wants to stop this plan.

After a harrowing journey across storm riddled seas and facing an epic mechanical sea serpent, Orin washes up on an oasis of an island where the people are more in tune with their Eard. Orin knows he must return to Ironhold to save the people before Forge, the leader, can wreak her havoc. It is a constant struggle to leave this oasis as the people are untrusting, the Eard has required him to stay and he has no boat to escape. Using his heart, Orin communicates with the Eard to show his intentions and to show love and possibility.

Vashti has a wonderful way of building worlds centred around mechanics and engineering, and where children need to be brave and face unimaginable journeys. Her characters are formidable but relatable, likeable and hopeful. You can’t help but read her books and be filled with every emotion under the sun, fear, courage, hope and happiness.

Orin is a wonderful character though he is filled with self doubt. Cody constantly boosts his confidence and she is a brilliant bestie. Full of sarcasm and one liners, she adds humour to the adventure and is always there to save Orin when he needs it most. New friend Ferelith is wonderful, determined and welcoming when Orin arrives injured and ill. They form a quick friendship and become inseparable as the tale continues.

Family, friendship and saving nature are key themes throughout the story. Orin has a close relationship with his family, even though their name, historically, has brought them shame. His friendship with Cody is delightful and as he learns to trust Ferelith, theirs is lovely too. Orin has an innate ability and desire to care for and protect nature- a gift handed down from his grandmother perhaps. One that makes him special and will certainly help him in his adventure.

Nature hurts in this story and it resonates with our world today with so much destruction and pollution. Orin would be most welcome to commune with Mother Nature to see a change in the planet and for healing to happen!

When I read any book now, I always look for those “gems of wisdom” that will stick with me long after I close the book. These gems are also what I encourage students to look for. While the story itself is unfolding these gems ensure a depth of understanding the story and the characters journey. There were so many that my copy of Crowfall now looks like a study guide…but my favourite is this…

“There were moments, when he held the sail ropes and felt the wind in his hair, with the beauty of the wide blue all around, that he felt truly free, as though anything was possible.”

Chalk up another victory for Vashti Hardy!

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