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Cuckoo’s Flight

Cuckoo’s Flight, April 2020
by Wendy Orr

Pajama Press
Featuring: Clio; Hector; Petros
292 pages
ISBN: 1772781908
EAN: 9781772781908
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"A Bronze Age girl who loves horses and defies raiders"

Fresh Fiction Review

Cuckoo’s Flight
Wendy Orr

Reviewed by Clare O'Beara
Posted March 13, 2021

Young Adult Historical | Childrens

On the island of Crete, Clio lives in the Bronze Age with all its innocence, cruelties and insecurities. CUCKOO’S FLIGHT starts with the usual town life; using the previous year’s barley to make barley cakes, firing pottery in the kiln, seeking spring greens, herding the goats. Time is running out, though. Everyone knows the trading must be done early this year, as soon as the seas permit. Sea raiders are striking the shores, and this could mean the end of the town.

Clio and her father Hector, who left Troy for this island, own a mare, Grey Girl, and colts Colti and Fouli. Oxen are generally used for work, but Hector has seen a chariot made of wicker, leather and wood, pulled by a horse, so he’s determined to make one for his lame daughter. Clio, her mother and grandmother Leira, are skilled pottery makers. When Hector goes to sea to trade goods for copper and tin – needed to make bronze tools and weapons – Clio has to care for the horses on the hillside with only Petros, a goatherd, to help. Then Clio discovers a girl from a small fishing village secretly befriending Colti. She’s instantly suspicious of potential theft, spying and betrayal to raiders. Mati is young, ill-used by her brother, and thin. But she loves horses.

This dynamic adventure is totally immersive. We smell the stink of rotting murex snails, in the purple-works where slaves produce dye. We hear the whistle of the herder’s pipes, and the crash of waves on the shore. We can taste the dry barley cakes and slippery olive oil. Left to the vagaries of the weather and fortune, the people make promises and offerings to placate any gods that might be listening. They know the barbarian raiders with their black ships care nothing for such sacrifice.

If you want to explore the Bronze Age, let Wendy Orr be your guide. She has previously written Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance in this setting, and Young Adult readers will learn a great deal not just about this period, but about resilience and resourcefulness. I suggest anyone from eight to fifteen would be the ideal readers. Especially if they love horses. Wendy Orr, author of Nim’s Island, was born in Canada but now lives in Australia. I’m mightily impressed by CUCKOO’S FLIGHT and I’ll be reading more of her work.

Learn more about Cuckoo’s Flight


A new gripping Bronze Age story from Wendy Orr, internationally acclaimed author of Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance

Clio can’t remember a time when she didn’t share a bond with the mare Grey Girl. On the whole island of Crete, she and her Trojan-born father are the only people who raise and ride horses--and she couldn’t live without it. Between the freedom of the pasture and the safety of her grandmother Leira’s pottery studio, Clio has always had everything she needed.

Then an accident stole Clio’s ability to ride, or even to walk without a crutch. The weather changed and summers grew drier. Now raiders are preying on nearby towns. As anxiety builds, a terrible pronouncement is issued by the palace: at the spring festival, a girl between the ages of twelve and fourteen will be chosen to save the town from disaster. She will be sacrificed as an offering to the mother goddess.

In Cuckoo’s Flight, internationally bestselling author Wendy Orr returns to the Bronze-Age setting of her critically acclaimed novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. With her signature blend of striking prose and emotionally taut verse, she immerses readers in a thrilling coming-of-age story as Clio battles the political power of the palace and her own feelings of inadequacy to save her town, her horses, and perhaps even herself.

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