Grammar enthusiast. Cat lover. Illustrator. Slytherin. Loki's Army. Spending a lot of time reading the world. And fanfiction. .
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The Raven’s Head is a dark tale of secret rituals and black magic, and the children who get tangled up in an alchemist’s pursuit of the ultimate power…
This is the latest book from the author ofCompany of Liars, Karen Maitland. Like its precursors, The Raven’s Head is a historical novel, but with a good dose of the supernatural thrown in. It is dark and at times disturbing, and certainly not for the fainthearted.
On the whole, this is a very enjoyable read.
Maitland’s characterisation in particular is excellent, as she presents us with three main characters that differ from one another greatly but for each of whom we grow to care deeply. Wilky is a young boy who struggles to understand the strange and grown-up world unfurling around him; Vincent is a roguish youth who uses his wits to get by; andGisa is an apothecary’s assistant, clever and gentle. Each character’s story is told in a different voice and often a differing style – for example, Vincent’s parts are told in the first person and past tense, while both Gisa’s and Wilky’s are in the third person and present tense – which really helps to cement their personalities in your mind.
The story follows each character as they make their way unknowingly towards a mutual destination and mortal danger, where twisted minds work to interpret a holy book and unlock the secrets of life itself in the most deranged way imaginable. And it does get rather gruesome at times.
I thoroughly enjoyed the journey through the book, but was a little disappointed with the ending – or, specifically, the last few chapters that make up the epilogue – although I shan’t go into too much detail for fear of giving anything away. Let me just say that it felt inadequate following a carefully crafted 400+ page book and, in my opinion, would have flown a lot better had it been executed with greater subtlety. As it is, it reads more like the conclusion of a short story than a lengthy novel.
However, I would still recommend the book as the journey through it is very enjoyable, not to mention dark, fantastic and fun. Vincent’s voice and character were things that I particularly loved.
Pick up The Raven’s Head if you’re in the mood for some dark fantasy, but be prepared for a bit of gore and genuine nastiness!
I received a free uncorrected proof copy of the book from Goodreads Giveaways.