“White Crow” by Marcus Sedgwick


Marcus Sedgwick is such a dark YA author, and I love that he writes books which give young adults credit for being able to read fiction that is of such a high standard, without talking down to the reader. The fact that he has such a large following proves to me that although readers do enjoy some light escapism, that they will read a wide range of fiction, and that people who underestimate the value of a good story rather than a gimmick, don’t really understand their audience at all.
I always find that it takes me a while to pick up the latest Sedgwick, knowing that I will be in for an unsettling read. But not once have I been disappointed, and I always find that once I’ve started the book I am entirely unable to put it down. White Crow is no exception.
“Supposing you wanted to prove something, something important. Supposing you wanted to prove, for argument’s sake, that there is life after death.”…..”You might say that although you have not seen every crow in the whole world, every crow you have ever seen is black. Therefore the chances are very great that all crows are black. In fact, you have decided for a fact that all crows are black. Now of course, if someone could show you a while crow, everything would be overturned in a moment. But all crows are black. And in the same way, you conclude that no one lives after death. There is no ‘other side’. There is no white crow. But, supposing I said I had seen a white crow? Just one. A single white crow. What then?” (an exert from White Crow)
This is a chilling concept, and a chilling narrative, which bounces from a gothic tale of religion and life after death, to an equally gothic contemporary story of two girls, who form an uneasy friendship which takes them to the very borders of existence. The setting for this book is a remote cliffside town, which, battered by the winds and the sea drops its borders into the sea without warning. Ferelith has grown up in the town, but has been an outside all her life. Rebecca is new, but feels equally alienated. She is seduced by Ferelith’s strangeness, although she does sense an unease about her new friend. Taunted by her own demons, she follows Ferelith into the dark obsessions of her mind, linked to the horrific past of the town.
A cover review says ‘It’s quite a horrible story. I love it.’ And that’s pretty much it. White Crow is horribly gothic. The characters are creepy and unsettling and generally quite unlikeable. But Sedgwick has such a way with words, that reading this book is like reading a Poe story. You know it will keep you awake later, but you just can’t seem to put it down. I read it at home in an afternoon and felt as though the shadows were creeping in on me from all corners. The tale is intriguing and thought provoking, and ultimately a very clever look at human nature and how far we will go to justify our own existence.
Incidentally, I found a picture of a white crow.

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