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Review: These Dark Wings - John Owen Theobald

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These Dark Wings by John Owen Theobald
Young Adult Historical Fiction
My Rating : {★★★☆☆}

Published February 11th 2016 by Head of Zeus
Source - Head of Zeus via Netgalley
After her mother is killed in the Blitz and her father in the North Sea, 12-year-old Anna Cooper is sent to live with an uncle she has never met - the Ravenmaster at the Tower of London.

Amid the Tower's old secrets and hidden ghosts, the ravens begin to disappear and Anna must brave the war-torn city to find them.

With Nazi forces massing on the other side of the Channel, the fate of Britain might be at stake, for an ancient legend foretells that Britain will fall if the ravens ever leave the Tower.

This is written as a first person narrative in present tense. I have struggled to find a present tense narrative that has really been written well and the only books I have ever really been able to get past this and fully immerse myself in without thinking about it has been The Hunger Games series.

In a book about a young girl orphaned in WWII that doesn't have a compelling plot, you should want to build some very complex characters with which to build your novel upon and using present tense is really not conducive to building in-depth and complex characters. Instead there are a lot of trivial details that don't actually add anything to the plot.

This is a historical fiction aimed at younger readers but it does include a lot of actual history and, to the best of my knowledge, accurate facts from the time. This is the reason I upped my rating to three stars because I actually enjoyed the historical part of this story - the rationing, the Blitz, the legend of the ravens themselves. These details were truly interesting. However for the most part I feel that while this book had such a promising premise everything just fell short.

I couldn't connect with the characters, I didn't enjoy the attempts at intrigue and there just wasn't enough atmosphere built for book that should have been some parts exciting, some parts terrifying.

It is a short enough read though and for the most part the writing is easy to get through. Maybe I just missed the entire point of this book. If you love historical fiction and books about WWII I'm sure you will enjoy this more than I did and maybe you will find something that I missed? If so, let me know!