Ravencry by Ed McDonald
Publication date: 28 June 2018
Genre: Adult fantasy
Page count: 414 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free for Ravencry, but contains major spoilers for Blackwing.
Don’t forget to check out my blog tour post for Ravencry!
Blackwing was one of my favourite novels of 2017 — I absolutely loved the refreshing world, story, characters, and McDonald’s sharp writing style. I had high expectations for the sequel, and those expectations were absolutely smashed. While some authors struggle with ‘second book syndrome’, McDonald shows that his talent as a writer is growing stronger.
Four years have passed since Nall’s Engine drove the Deep Kings back across the Misery, but as they hurl fire from the sky, darker forces plots against the republic.
A new power is rising: a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady manifests in visions across the city, and the cult that worship her grasp for power even as the city burns around them.
When Crowfoot’s arcane vault is breached, an object of terrible power is stolen, and Galharrow and his Blackwings must once find out which of Valengrad’s enemies is responsible before they have a chance to use it.
To save Valengrad, Galharrow, Nenn and Tnota must venture to a darker, more twisted and more dangerous place than any they’ve walked before: the very heart of the Misery.
Because the foundations for the world were well established Blackwing, Ravencry really gets a chance to spread its wings (ha) and expand upon that world. Not only do we get to see aftermath of the siege at the end of Blackwing, we see how this event has affected our heroes. Galharrow has established a proper Blackwing corp, something I thought was really missing from the first book, political tensions are running high, and the Bright Order has been established in the city. We also get the opportunity to dive deep into the Misery, one of my favourite fantasy settings ever, and see the truly bizarre nature of this broken land. My favourite fantasy books are the ones that give greater insight into fascinating world and that show you the consequences of wars and sieges — Ravencry gives us both. Also, I love a good cult. Who doesn’t love a cult? The look at religious fanaticism added a realistic complication to war-torn Valengrad, which was a great addition to the plot.
The best thing about this book is the addition of new characters and the growth of old favourites. Again, because the foundations of the world have been established, McDonald got the opportunity to give us deeper insight into the complex characters that make up this story. Most notably, we got so much more of Galharrow’s character in this book. Although I still find him to be one of the less intriguing characters in this series, his characterisation really stands out in Ravencry. Perhaps it is because we witnessed the devestating death of Ezabeth in Blackwing and can relate more to this than his we do to his tragic past. I feel like I just ‘got’ him much more in this book — my emotional attachment to him was so much stronger. Nenn is another character who we get more of in Ravencry. Rather than just being a feisty side character, as she is in Blackwing, she really comes into her own in Ravencry. She was not only more present in this book, I felt like I was much more attached to her. In Blackwing, she’s mostly memorable for her attitude and missing nose, while in Ravencry she felt like a real person with weaknesses and flaws. We also get more Crowfoot — you can never get enough Crowfoot — and I absolutely loved his inclusion in the story.
New favourites in Ravencry for me are Amaira and Davandein. I wont say much due to spoilers, but I really love McDonald’s female characters. They’re exactly what I want from fantasy ladies — they’re sometimes awful, sometimes wonderful, deeply flawed, and have agency.
Overall, I really loved Ravencry, possibly even more than Blackwing. There are some bits toward the end that I am a little iffy about, however, the great story and characters more than made up for it. I cannot wait for the next book!
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