Book Review: In the Ravenous Dark by A.M Strickland

I’ve been hyped for this book ever since I first heard about it. The second I saw that it was up for request on NetGalley? I was over there and requesting it. My request was granted pretty quickly, but it’s taken me until now to finally get to it for various reasons. The moment I started this book, I hoped to be dragged into a fascinating world with characters I would die for.

And I kind of got that.

In the Ravenous Dark is centred around Rovan, a young woman who has grown up trying to hide her magic after seeing her father taken away by guards. Those with magic like theirs, blood magic, are taken to the castle to join their ranks. And then are given a ghost guardian to keep an eye on them. Rovan never wanted that, but after saving a girl in view of everyone, she is taken to the castle to join her father and take on his bloodline.

I won’t lie, writing that excited me all over again. This book sounded so damn good, and it still does. It’s a dark fantasy with a diverse cast, a pan protagonist and a poly ship. There are so many aspects that sound so good. And for me, the first 75% or so was. But then it kind of lost me.

We’ll start with what I thought was really good, and that was the worldbuilding. Though stuck in one country, you do get the hints of another. You’re curious about it, and you want to see it. But like the protagonist, you know the time to isn’t right now. That was a good way to handle it. The magic system that’s used in these two countries is so interesting. Essentially, you have two types of magic: Blood magic and death magic. Blood magic is used by the living, and death magic those close to death or those who are dead. Or that’s how it usually works. Blood magic is hereditary, with only one of the children usually being adept to use it themselves. The bloodline is passed on through marks, and that’s all I can say without spoilers.

I loved learning about this world and how the magic worked. There were a few shocks and twists that I didn’t expect. And I’m really glad that I got to experience the rollercoaster.

As I said earlier, this book is also pretty diverse. Aside from the royalty, different genders and sexualities are usually accepted with no problem. I don’t remember any comments on skin colours or things either. So the world did feel honestly open. And that was a pleasure to see. You do get a poly ship in this book with the protagonist. You can tell who it’s going to be pretty early on. But you don’t get to see two members of the ship interacting very much. Admittedly, there would be no romance there as one of them is a lesbian. Not exactly going to be into a dude. But I would have liked to see some more interaction. To see them all working out how this was going to work. But that would have had to have happened earlier in the book to work.

And that’s kind of where my problem begins.

The first 70% or so is a lot of build-up. The story was enjoyable, and I was curious; then a twist happened. And, okay, that was fine. It added something different with the magic and allowed the plot to go a different way. But then suddenly, it started to feel like everything was happening too fast. It shouldn’t have. This was the last 30% so, obviously, things needed to be happening. But so much was happening in such a short space of time that I was like…why?

Especially as this was when the romance really kicked off too. Things had felt a little instaromancey anyway, but then everything is just a mess, and there’s I love you’s. And I don’t know. Even the final battle and the action following just felt a little anticlimactic. We had all this build-up, and maybe this book should have been a series rather than a standalone. As that last 25%/30% left me so unsatisfied. I went from really enjoying the book to wanting to put it down as I just didn’t care anymore.

And that’s not good.

That being said, I did still mostly enjoy and appreciate this book. My favourite characters were probably Japha – the non-binary sassy character? What a surprise! Or not… – and Ivrilos. I was interested in their backstories, and I loved their interactions with Rovan. I liked Rovan well enough, she was a good protagonist. But how selfish she could be was sometimes very frustrating.

Overall a mixed read. But one I would recommend to those looking for dark YA fantasy.

3/5 Stars


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