The Book of The Raven || Angus Hyland & Caroline Roberts

Ever since this arrived, it has been sitting on my desk, as opposed to being consigned to the “must get round to that” pile. It has several page markers in it, including the delivery note for an obscure book about the fishing industry (my reading is nothing if not eclectic), a reminder to complete my tax return and details of how to pay my electricity bill. So much of it captures the imagination that you’ll mark the pages with anything that comes to hand. Probably best not to be eating a bacon sandwich.

It helps, of course, to be a bit of a birdwatcher and a particular fan of Corvids (the book includes the whole family, despite the headline title) and of inking. Although colour is anything but absent from these pages, crows, ravens and rooks are black as ink and therefore a challenge to the artist.

The approach is the same as The Book of The Tree, in which Angus Hyland was also involved and I sense a theme, possibly a series here. There are well chosen illustrations in a variety of styles from a variety of artists, as well as history, natural history, legend and lore. Of course the Mad Hatter’s riddle is included: Why is a raven like a writing desk? Carroll’s own explanation makes no sense which, knowing Carroll, I suspect is deliberate. But why not “Because they both have quills as black as ink”?

What can I say? I absolutely love this. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but the choice of material, production and format are pitch-perfect if it’s yours.

The back cover quotes Edgar Allen Poe: “Darkness there and nothing more”. Oh, there’s a lot more, mate.

Click the picture to view on Amazon

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