Reviewed by Taonga Tangaere, Artist, Writer, and Trans Person
Caitlyn Spice, Adam Reynolds & Chaz Harris; and Illustrated by Christine Luiten & Bo Moore
(2020). Promised Land Entertainment Ltd.
The tale of a mystical gem and one woman's journey of self-determination in transition from the boy she once presented herself to be into the woman and hero that she would come to know herself as. Raven Wild is a dedication to the lost childhoods of trans adults and a gift to the imagination of trans children.
Not merely entertainment, nor thrill, nor escapism, for many it is in the worlds that the mediums of storybooks and fairytales open that they are first able to relate the fanciful to the mundane. Where they are not only able to lose themselves in adventure and fantasy, but where they are able to find themselves. To see themselves present. Alive. And thriving.
For queer and gender diverse people and children, Raven Wild is one such place.
Presented as an intersection between the classical elements of a fairytale and the rogue-ish tales of adventurers such as Indiana Jones, Raven Wild is a familiar story of adventure and discovery, not only of the grand and fantastical but of oneself. And a space where Raven is not only able to find herself, but where she may serve to guide children into discovering and affirming whomever it is they may be.
Normalizing a diversity of identity and expression within the structure of it's pages, Raven Wild and it's companions within the Realm of Nimalia and the Promised Land series, follow a familiar formula of classical storytelling elements updated through a lens of self-actualization.
Presenting to us a world in which those within the wider spectrum of queer identity are able to merely exist in a space outside of the oppressive cis-heteronormative patriarchal structures that we often find ourselves confined to, Raven Wild is the story of Raven and a young women's journey through self-discovery and the affirmation of her experience and existence. And an affirmation of the existence of gender diversity and of trans people.
Though stories may exist as fanciful escapism, they also function as narrative mirrors of the societies they find themselves in, and with Raven Wild trans and gender diverse people are finally able to take a look in that mirror.