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The Raging Quiet - Sherryl Jordan The Raging Quiet is without doubt a Rey-The-Teen-Years book. Which is not to say it is not a Rey-Now book, (it is), but this is the sort of novel I would have adored without reservation in high school. As a teenager that read almost exclusively classics and historical literature of any kind, and possibly had somewhat overly romantic ideas about life, I would have been completely enamoured with Jordan’s sweeping story of love triumphing over evil. The deliberate ambiguity of the setting and time period in which The Raging Quiet takes place allows the story to straddle a line between historical fiction and fantasy, and frees it from some of the rigidity a straight historical fiction novel would demand. Jordan has created a world that borrows heavily from our own past and is told in a traditional style, yet allows the plot to unfold in a manner that resonates with its contemporary audience. While The Raging Quiet could be classified as a romance, its central themes are prejudice and injustice –the hate bred from fear and ignorance, fostered by close-mindedness. In the small, withdrawn community of Torcurra, difference is perceived as an evil, and those who do not fit neatly within its social norms are shunned or outright abused. The characters of Marnie and Raver/n are distrusted by the villagers, though for different reasons. Marnie for her rumoured complicity in her husband’s death, and Raven for his (unrealised) deafness and subsequent inability to communicate or conduct himself in a manner they deem acceptable. But for the local priest, Father Brannan, Marnie and Raven find themselves ostracised from society, living in almost complete isolation. Jordan walks a fine line here by creating main characters that are almost uniformly sympathetic amid a cast of narrow-minded fear-mongers. Even Father Brannan’s eventual willingness to bend his moral principles somewhat where they concern Marnie’s choices seems dangerously close to making him more of an idealised concept than a flawed and realistic character. However, Jordan manages to sidestep the problem of too much polarity and too little dimension amid her cast of characters by imbuing her protagonists with the emotional and physical scars of their pasts. These are two characters who desperately deserve a measure of happiness, having suffered so much at the hands an unjust society. Where Jordan really excels as a storyteller is in her crafting of the relationship that develops between Raven and Marnie. While their closeness grows as a by-product of their ability to communicate with each other, there’s also something to be said for the capacity to empathise that seems inherent in both of them. This mutual affinity, a deep understanding of each other’s pain, is the tie that really binds Marnie and Raven together. The progression of this relationship is handled delicately, and Jordan does not overlook the obstacles that stand in their way, not just in the form of societal opposition, but their own doubts and fears. This is particularly so in the case of Marnie, a young woman who suffered emotionally and sexually during her short marriage. The role of intimacy based on trust and respect is beautifully explored, the scenes between Marnie and Raven all the more poignant for their healing, profound nature. Interestingly, while the novel is deliberately vague on its time and location particulars, Jordan bases her portrayal of witch trials and rituals on historical fact. These are among the most powerful scenes in the book, such cruelty levied against a young woman simply for being different. Despite the message-based content of The Raging Quiet, it is not a didactic or overtly moralising novel. Rather, Jordan has written a compelling story that speaks eloquently about the effects of prejudice, the transformative power of empathy, and the simple, human need to be heard.