Review: Hollowthorn

Hollowthorn (A Ravenfall Novel)

by Kalyn Josephson

Delacorte Press (imprint of Random House Children's Books), 2023

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Kathryn Hall

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Hollowthorn's cover is exquisite and made me eager to read this sequel to the author's novel Ravenfall, which I have not read. I very much appreciated the excellent summary of Ravenfall provided before chapter one. Hollowthorn is told from three viewpoints: 13 year old Anna, 14 year old Colin, and Ravenfall, the magical inn that Anna and her family run as a bed & breakfast in Wick, Oregon. All of the major characters, and most of the minor ones have some sort of supernatural abilities. Anna and Colin used their magic after the murder of Colin's parents to rescue Colin's brother Liam in the previous book. Now, a little more than a month later, in Hollowthorn Anna and Colin join Henry (Anna's father) and Salem (a Raven, but human) on a quest to prevent Ashmedai, the Jewish Lord of Demons, from finding the Tree of Life and absorbing power from it. They leave Ravenfall in the care of other family members and go to Otherworld, a world of magic. Life with Anna's family at Ravenfall is cozy, but not idealized or stereotypical. Family members have faults and misunderstandings, but learn and grow. This is a well-written and very enjoyable book for middle grades and up. Now I will have to read Ravenfall!

The Jewish content in the book is important, and the inclusion of other cultures, such as Celtic magic and the Jabberwocky, makes it feel new and fresh. Both Jewish and non-Jewish readers will be able to relate to the characters and themes in this book.

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Reviewer Kathryn Hall is a retired pediatrician, lifetime member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, volunteer librarian for her synagogue and for her local LGBT+ center, and active in her local PFLAG chapter. She has a special interest in Jewish children's literature with LGBT+ content. She lives in Central California with her husband, the youngest of her three children, and two of her eight grandchildren.