White Ravens, By Owen Sheers

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The Independent Culture

Seren's new series invites writers to re-interpret the 11 stories of the Welsh epic, the Mabinogion.

Choosing the tale of Branwen, whose marriage to an Irish king triggers a cycle of reprisals, Sheers grafts this myth onto the story of the ravens in the Tower of London and the legend of their wartime fate.

Via the sheep-farming landscapes of today's Wales and the Blitz-hit London of the 1940s, his novella dwells on "the cyclical nature of atrocity" in swift prose that slips between its periods and levels with gravity and grace. Vengeance at last withers as the young learn "to be a bridge, not a barrier".