A big thank you to Arachne Press for letting me be a part of this incredible blog tour.
Zed and the Cormorants by Clare Owen
Published By: Arachne Press
Released: 29th April 2021
CAWPILE Rating: 7.6 / 4 ★
I received this book free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Zed’s family have moved from London to a village in Cornwall. Dad says they need a fresh start, but no one’s asked Zed what she thinks.
She knows she’ll never fit into her new school, or make any friends, let alone find someone special. At this rate she’ll be lucky to find a phone signal…
Maybe their new home will help with Mum’s depression, and keep Zed’s sister Amy away from her dropout boyfriend, but why does it have to be so remote? Why has the boathouse been locked up for seventy years? Why do the birds living by the estuary fill her with such dread?
And what do they WANT?
A contemporary coming of age story that touches on Cornish history, mythology, the paranormal, mental health and LGBT romance. Perfect for readers of Liz Kessler, Emily Barr and and Marcus Sedgewick.
Trigger Warnings: Depression, Suicide (implied), Animal Attack, Death.
Zed’s family have moved from London to a quiet village in Cornwall for a fresh start. Her Dad thinks it will help the family, but no one has asked Zed what she thinks. The village is so remote, and Zed does start to think that the move may help her Mum’s depression and keep her sister Amy away from her loser boyfriend. A few days in, Zed soon discovers that the boathouse near them has been locked up for seventy years and the birds living by them start to fill her with fear. It’s soon up to Zed to uncover the mystery of the boathouse, and the birds and find out what they want.
This was a book that filled me with such creepy, gothic vibes that I was all for. From the moment I opened the first page I knew I was in it for the long haul with this one and found it hard to put down at times. I was captivated by the gorgeous feel of the surroundings, as well as the mystery surrounding this tiny little Cornish village, and I knew I wanted to know more.
The story itself packs a punch despite only being a short one at 182 pages. I was intrigued by the enigma surrounding the village and the boathouse and this was one of the reasons why I was so hooked to the book. You are taken on an incredible journey of one girl’s fight to not only stop her family from falling apart but also to get the mystery solved. I loved the mythology that was placed throughout the story, and I felt like I learnt a lot about the legends of Cormorants. I commend the author for this, as a lot of research into the myths and legends of Cornwall must’ve been needed. The mysterious element was the main plot point, but I also found that the other side plots wove into the story with such ease. We had Amy, who had her struggles to deal with including her long-distance boyfriend, Zed’s Dad who started to doubt his decision to move the family, and Zed’s mum who was battling her mental health issues, and also Zed herself, struggling to deal with all her family issues as well as her feelings.
Zed was a character that I took to almost instantly. She was determined to do whatever she could to help her family find their place in their new surroundings, and solve this riddle, despite having her problems to deal with. She was such a fleshed-out character, and I was rooting for her throughout the book and just wanted her and her family to have their dream ending. Her development throughout the book was outstanding, especially coming to terms with her sexuality. It’s great to see many teen LGBT characters in YA nowadays and I am pleased that this was handled well within the story. Many of the side characters were also instantly likeable, and I particularly took a shine to Cordelia and Denzil. Their backstories were intriguing and I would love to know more about both of them in a sequel perhaps?
Issues such as mental health, sexuality, illness self-discovery, nature and loss were all present within Zed and the Cormorants. Issues like these, in particular, mental health are becoming spoken about more in YA, and it is something that I feel very strongly about. I found myself relating to some of these topics, and that, in turn, made my reading experience much more personal, and this was one of the reasons why I found the book so engaging.
Zed and the Cormorants was a magical, mystical read that had me longing for more. Everything from the setting, plot right down to the characters made for brilliant reading. I’m excited to see what Clare Owen writes next, and I can guarantee you I will be picking it up.