Title: The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow
Author: Kate Gordon
Publisher: University of Queensland Publishing
Published: 29th March 2022
Synopsis: When Jackdaw Hollow is orphaned by a lightning strike, he is taken in by the headmistress of Direleafe Hall. Even though he grows up with her love and care, he feels undeserving, as if the universe made a mistake in sparing him. As he searches for the reason he survived the storm, he befriends Angeline, a wildling girl who knows where her destiny lies – the circus. But when he goes too far in trying to find his own calling, he loses sight of what’s most important.
The Calling of Jackdaw Hollow is a spirited tale of destiny, self-worth and accepting that if you love something, you must set it free.
When Jackdaw Hollow’s parents are struck by lightning and die, he’s shipped off to Direleafe Hall, a school for girls. Here, he is the only boy, and is cared for by Mrs Beekman. But whispers follow Jackdaw – why he survived the storm, why his parents died that night – and Jackdaw begins to wonder what saved him, and why. What is his calling? Jackdaw is visited by three ghost girls – Nell, Lucy, and Florence – who are determined to help Jackdaw find his calling – which leads him to meet a wildling girl called Angeline.
Angeline says her calling is the circus, and she’s determined to help Jackdaw as well, in some ways, yet will he go too far in his search, and lose sight of what is important?
The third in the Direleafe Hall series takes place before Wonder Quinn and Melodie Rose – giving us insight into what has come before, and how the presence of the crow in those two books came to be, which gives a great insight into how the world of Direleafe works and what each character brings to the story, whatever their role in the human or ghostly world is. Much like the first two books, Jackdaw’s story is sensitively told, and unravels slowly. Layers are peeled back carefully, allowing us to gain insight into the characters as we read each chapter carefully. I loved the gentle nature of this book – it was lyrical and meditative – a calming story that evoked a sense of calm amidst the mystery within the unfolding story. This gave it the sense that we’d always know what we needed to know – and that if we didn’t need to know something, it would be kept from us. This was effective because it allowed me as a reader to imagine things, and therefore brings the power of using ones imagination whilst reading to the forefront of the experience, which is what has always drawn me to reading.
I have to admit, I was pulled into this book so much, I couldn’t put it down, and had to keep reading it in a few sittings, because it kept calling to me. I had to know what was going to happen and how it was going to tie in with its predecessors. I loved the way it does – and what this means for the other books, and could mean if there are future books in this universe. If not, I think it’s a perfect end to the saga, allowing each character to have their own story whilst also tying into each other. And as ghost stories go, it is a gentle ghost story that evokes a sense of mysteriousness and eeriness, but in a safe and calm way for young and sensitive readers who might be finding their way into ghost stories for the first time.
I want to go back and read all three back-to-back now, to see if I can make the connections and where everything fits in. I want to appreciate how cleverly this has been done, because it’s such a joy to see how these sorts of things work out.