"a gripping contemporary story… brilliantly absorbs the magical elements of the original” The Guardian
“Sheers makes his 20th-century setting sing but holds on to the otherworldliness of his source material… A spellbinding fable about male self-destructiveness and the effects of war on those who return home.” The Financial Times
Two stories, two different times, but the thread of an ancient tale runs through the lives of twenty-first century farmer’s daughter Rhian and the mysterious Branwen…
After being wounded in Italy, Matthew O’Connell is seeing out WWII in an obscure government department spreading rumours and myths to the enemy. But when he’s given the bizarre task of escorting a box containing six raven chicks from a remote hill farm to the Tower of London, he becomes part of a story over which he seems to have no control.
The eleven stories in the Mabinogion come from two medieval Welsh manuscripts, with roots dating back many centuries earlier. They bring us Celtic mythology, Arthurian romance, and their own view of the Island of Britain. There is enchantment and shapeshifting, conflict, peacemaking, love and betrayal.
In this series commissioned by Seren, the old tales are at the heart of the new. Each author reinvents a story in their own way: creating fresh, contemporary tales that speak to us as much of our own world as of events long gone. Based on ‘Branwen, Daughter of Llyr’, White Ravens is a haunting novella from an acclaimed writer.
Listen to Owen Sheers read an extract from his novel, ‘White Ravens’:
Review from the SUNDAY TIMES
“a gripping tale of the unexpected that fuses Welsh myth and modern macabre into a superb, bewitching whole” Nov 09
Review from the GUARDIAN
"a gripping contemporary story… brilliantly absorbs the magical elements of the original” Nov 09
Review from the INDEPENDENT
“Via the sheep-farming landscapes of today’s Wales and the Blitz-hit London of the 1940s, his novella dwells on “the cyclical nature of atrocity” in swift prose that slips between its periods and levels with gravity and grace.” Oct 09
Review from the FINANCIAL TIMES
“Sheers makes his 20th-century setting sing but holds on to the otherworldliness of his source material… A spellbinding fable about male self-destructiveness and the effects of war on those who return home.”
Review from OUR BOOK REVIEW ONLINE
Owen Sheers brings a contemporary twist to the ancient Welsh tale of Branwen, daughter of Llyr with two different, but entwined stories, one set in the present day, one during WW2. Rhian and her two brothers live on a remote Welsh hill farm, the family's home for generations, but following an outbreak of foot and mouth the brothers decide to set up in a different line of business - one they feel is less effort and more lucrative. This book is part of a series - New Stories from the Mabinogion - though there's no need of prior knowledge of Welsh myth to enjoy this story - it's gripping enough and perfectly capable of being read as a stand alone story. I was drawn in by Sheer's storytelling skills, his ability to tell apart of the tale from a woman's perspective, to give Rhian a voice and let her speak. White Ravens is very much a story set in the real, everyday world, not a magical, fantasy tale but, in the way of myth, the characters are drawn powerlessly along towards their inescapable fate. Although this is a story about men torn apart by violence and bloodshed, of men who release their torment and rage on the people and animals around them, it also offers the possibility ending the vicious circle they find themselves caught in. Maryom, Our Book Reviews Online Blog, October 2010