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The Curse of the Raven Mocker    by Marly Youmans order for
Curse of the Raven Mocker
by Marly Youmans
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2003 (2003)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Adanta doesn't understand why her family moved to the Little Cottage In Between, and why her sick father, Ba, left them to find a Cherokee healing lake in the mountains. But she doesn't like the Lean One, James/Astugataga, even though he's supposed to be her godfather. And her feelings are vindicated when he enspels her mother Charlotte into leaving with him.

Left alone, Adanta seeks help from their strange neighbors, the giant Messers, but they're also gone. Adanta sees her friend the Pony Boy (who wants to be a Teller like his father) in the distance. She learns about her father's folk, the Hidden People, 'all mixed-up Irish and Scots and Cherokee' and meets her weaver grandmother Birdie Ann in 'a maze of maize'. Birdie Ann tells her to go westward into the mountains to seek her parents, and gives her a delicate stole, an amulet, a blank journal, and supplies for the journey.

Beginning her quest, Adanta meets the marvellous Magpie Joe, 'purveyor of fine trained birds', who has a tendency to get 'all fluttery' and flighty. She accompanies him to the Pony Fair, where his wife Caledonia advises her to seek help from the witch-master and 'the Teller of Wonders'. Adanta joins Tass (the Pony Boy) and together they meet Lalu of the Yunwi Tsunsdi (the Little People) who tells Adanta that she will pay 'with bone of her bone'.

Adanta and Tass quest together. They recover Tass's stolen pony from the Messers, find Adanta's grandmother and hear the story of her shadowed life. Together they fight the curse of the Raven Mocker, and locate Ba and Charlotte. It's not exactly a happily-ever-after ending but it is a very good one, in which Adanta learns that growing is measured 'by daring the world - doing deeds, braving regions that one had never known'.

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