Mary Hoffman reviews Mortlock by Jon Mayhew
Before telling us what she thinks about this book, Hoffman includes a paragraph speaking up for crows and telling us that they are in fact "delightful", "shy", "respectable" and the victims of a prejudiced press.
Mayhew, who is later in the review described as "still finding his true authorial voice", can at least take solace in the fact that Hoffman's introduction places him in a direct line of crow caricaturists from Shakespeare through Edgar Allan Poe.
Corvids have a bad press in language and literature. A raven "croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan" into Macbeth's castle, to "rook" is to cheat someone, The Crow is a horror movie and Edgar Allan Poe's "grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore", the Raven, quoth "Nevermore!" Yet in reality they are delightful companions, very shy and easily disturbed if their daily routine changes - more respectable citizens than shrieking outlaws. Jon Mayhew clearly writes from the influence of gothic literature rather than direct experience when he makes the terrifying "aunts" in Mortlock the physical embodiment of crows. MARY HOFFMAN