Cuckoo’s Flight, written by Wendy Orr

Cuckoo’s Flight 
written by Wendy Orr
Pajama Press, 2021
978-1-77278-190-8 (hc) $21.95
for Grades 4 to 8

Fiction | Bronze Age | Horses | Suspense | Disability | Innovation

In Clio’s Bronze-age community on the island of Crete, a fervent adherence to religious rituals dictates every aspect of daily life. As a young teenager, Clio is apprenticing in the clay workshop operated by the women of her family but her heart lies with the horses that she and her father train. No longer able to ride her beloved horse Gray Girl after a hip-shattering accident, Clio is dismayed when her father leaves for overseas trade and an orphaned girl, with a visible interest in Clio’s horses, appears in the village. Tensions escalate when Clio spots potential invaders off the coast and the village’s spiritual leader decrees that a human sacrifice is necessary to protect the village from the marauders. Channeling wisdom imparted by her dead grandmother, Clio realizes that there are alternatives to some of the traditional customs. These innovations allow her to respect her culture while still saving her family and friends, resulting in a nail-biting conclusion.

Wendy Orr skillfully weaves a story that teaches as well as entertains: comprehensive historical information demonstrates how the villagers’ professions were intertwined, resulting in communities that were largely self-sufficient. In addition, the close association between the changing seasons and village tasks illustrates a relationship with nature less obvious in present times. The detailed descriptions of the environment allow readers to immerse themselves fully in the story’s setting.

Cuckoo’s Flight employs a writing style which alternates prose and narrative poetry. As such, it would be an excellent method of introducing diversity in narrative techniques. The title is highly recommended for readers who are entertained by historical fiction and adventure stories with unexpected endings.

Robin Ahamedi is a library technician living in Ajax, Ontario.

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