The Raging Quiet
Widowed just two days after her marriage to a man twice her age, Marnie finds herself an outsider in the remote seaside village of Torcurra. Spurned by the townsfolk who suspect her involvement in her husband’s death, she has only two friends: the local priest and the madman known as Raver, who is even more of an outcast than Marnie.
Marnie makes a remarkable discovery about Raver, whom she renames Raven, and the two forge a deep bond that begins to heal her own bruised heart. But the suspicious villagers see Raven’s transformation as evidence of witchcraft, and suddenly Marnie finds herself facing an ordeal that threatens not only her future with Raven, but her very life.
New Zealand author Sherryl Jordan has crafted a riveting story, reminiscent of the work of Thomas Hardy, that’s shimmering with the romanticism of a fairy tale but told with the vivid detail and suspense of a modern novel. In an ancient time, a newlywed girl is taken to a seaside thatched cottage by her much older husband. His drunken lovemaking repels her, but Marnie must endure because he is the lord’s middle son and she has married him to save her family from starvation. When he is killed in a fall, she feels more release than grief, in spite of the village rumors that she caused his death with a witch’s curse. Suspicions grow when she befriends an outcast, a “mad” boy called Raver whose rages and yammerings look to villagers like the work of the devil. But Marnie realizes that the boy is deaf, and his bursts of anger come from his inability to communicate. With the help of the kindly and wise village priest, she begins to invent a sign language for him. A tender love grows between them in the cottage, but Marnie still fears the marriage bed. Meanwhile, the scandalized villagers spy on the “witch,” and at last force her to endure the bloodcurdling ordeal of trial by hot iron. Readers will gobble up this entrancing story, and may want to move on to Cynthia Voigt’s Jackaroo, Michael Cadnum’s In a Dark Wood, and perhaps Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles. (Ages 12 to 15) —Patty Campbell