One of the things I love most about Wendy Orr’s, Dragonfly Song, Swallows Dance and her latest Bronze Age novel, Cuckoo’s Flight is that they transport me to extraordinary places that I know very little about.
Wendy Orr is a master of setting. Her thorough research is reflected in the small details that allow the reader to step into the character’s world and feel like they are actually there.
Through the actions of the characters and their setting, Wendy reveals the beauty and brutality of this time in history and the inner workings of every day life in Crete during the Bronze Age.
Hand on her heart, Tail passes her a soft clay tablet, and she stamps it with her grandmother’s seal stone, hanging from a cord around her wrist.
From page 1, we are right there in the main character, Clio’s world and we are right there with her when her life is thrown into chaos by the sight of an approaching ship.
When a raiders’ ship appears off the coast, the goddess demands an unthinkable price to save the town – and Clio’s grandmother creates a sacred statue to save Clio’s life.
But Clio is torn between the demands of guarding the statue and caring for her beloved horses. Disabled in an accident, she must try to put aside her own grief at no longer being able to ride – and in the process, save a friend’s life and stop a war.
The characters in Cuckoo’s Flight are well drawn and each one has their own individual goals and traits that set them apart from the others and help the reader individually connect with them and their stories. Clio, the main character in particular, draws us to her with her courage and vulnerability.
Clio’s disability doesn’t define who she is, but it’s an integral part of the events of the story and is sensitively and powerfully woven into it.
As always, with Wendy Orr’s work, the characters are nuanced and relatable – all with their faults and weaknesses and even villains are given the chance to redeem themselves.
Cuckoo’s Flight is also a mixture of verse and prose and the two blend together seamlessly, giving the book an extra layer of language and meaning.
As well as family and friendship, Cuckoo’s Flight also explores themes of belief, trust and nature; providing a platform for robust discussion on these important topics.
I highly recommend Cuckoo’s Flight and it’s companion novels, Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance for readers aged 9+. They are a great way to introduce students to historical fiction because they are riveting stories in their own right. These books stand out not just for their great writing and content, but for their stunning covers.