The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow, by Kate Gordon
It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the first two books in this beautifully lyrical series (The Heartsong of Wonder Quinn and The Ballad of Melodie Rose, both previously reviewed here on my blog).
Now, in this third book in the series, we meet Jackdaw Hollow, who lost his parents to a lightning strike when he was a baby. Jack was taken to Direleafe Hall, an all-girls school, to be raised by the kind and loving school Principal, Mrs Beekman. But something inside Jack feels broken, as he wonders how it is that he survived the lighting strike when his parents didn't. As a result, he feels like he must prove his worth, his reason for being alive.
As he searches for his calling, Jack - with the help of three ghostly girls who live at Direleafe Hall - comes across the wild and spirited Angeline, who dreams of being in the circus. But something inside Angeline is also broken. Will helping Angeline turn out to be Jack's calling? Or will he realise that maybe his calling has been right in front of him all along?
This is such a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love and loss, of learning to let go, of recognising your own self worth, of learning what it means to truly live.
The writing is just exquisite - poetic, whimsical, evoking an almost dreamlike and timeless atmosphere. It's impossible not to warm to our lonely protagonist Jackdaw, lover of birds and reading and trees and stars, who just wants to find his purpose and worth - even though we as the reader can clearly see how worthy he already is, and how much he is already loved.
The meaningful use of language adds so many layers to the narrative and makes this such a joy to read - with symbolism (birds and thistle motifs appearing and reappearing through the story), metaphors and similes used effectively throughout, threaded delicately through the text.
And the cover itself is just stunning - so atmospheric, with a fairytale vibe - making you want to pick this book up straight away.
This story is perfect for any reader who loves a beautifully haunting read - this can be read as a stand-along but I highly recommend reading the others in the series to see how they all tie in so beautifully together.
Published by UQP Books