The Raven by Aderyn Wood – SPFBO Review: And Then There Were Two
|Book Name:||The Raven|
|Formatt:||Paperback / Ebook|
|Release Date:||November 29, 2015|
The SPFBO team are making steady progress in our search for a finalist. To avoid cruelly stretching things out, we’ll be posting (in no particular order) individual reviews for those who don’t make it as and when we eliminate them.
Now, only two books remain as we say farewell to Aderyn Wood and The Raven.
Aderyn Wood’s The Raven: The Secret Chronicles of Lost Magic features a likeable protagonist, an interesting premise, and a setting that’s different from much of what we see throughout the fantasy genre.
At the same time, it has just enough flaws to prevent it from being Fantasy-Faction’s pick for Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off.
The Raven tells the story of Iluna, a young woman whose mother dies giving birth to her amongst a series of ill omens. As a result, Iluna’s superstitious Wolf Clan initially intend to sacrifice her, but she is saved through the sympathy of a clan shaman. While the clan relents far enough to allow Iluna to live, it never fully accepts her, and she grows up an outcast, with no one to care for her but the shaman. It’s only when a foreign tribe attacks Iluna’s people that she begins to fully understand the magic she was born with, and confronts a powerful adversary hidden within her own culture.
Iluna proves to be a protagonist who is easy to root for, and the characters are intriguing enough to keep readers interested. Unfortunately, the book has to rely strongly on the readers’ interest in the characters through the first half of the book, as the first 45 percent merely lays out the premise and introduces readers to the key characters. It isn’t until the halfway point that the plot begins, and we understand who and what Iluna will be fighting. Even then, so many of Iluna’s fellow tribespeople are unlikeable that I’m not entirely certain I care whether her tribe is destroyed.
Wood’s ability to showcase daily life in a compelling way is impressive, and its part of what makes her world and its characters come to life. Iluna’s likeability and Wood’s readability provide the book’s greatest strengths, and are the reason why The Raven stands out against much of the field the Blog-Off.
Unfortunately, plotting proved to be a weakness, first by meandering through the first half of the novel, then by relying heavily on a romantic subplot between two characters who seem to have only spoken to one another two or three times over the course of their lives.
The setting is different, and as a result feels more interesting, but it also feels thin in places. While I was intrigued by Iluna’s clan and her people’s lifestyle, at the end I really couldn’t describe their culture in any real depth.
Ultimately, Wood has the potential to write a truly outstanding book, and while The Raven wasn’t quite it, this is definitely an author to watch.
With many thanks to Aderyn Wood for submitting her work to this contest.
– – –
We’re now down to two books (from our original 30) in our search for a finalist to move into the final round of Mark Lawrence’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off. Here are our remaining choices in no particular order:
Paternus by Dyrk Ashton
Ravenmarked by Amy Rose Davis