Name: Raven Song
Series: Inoki's Game (Book 1)
Author: I.A. Ashcroft
Author: I.A. Ashcroft
Paperback: 290 pages
Published Date: March 14, 2016
Publisher: Lucid Dreams Publishing
* E-book provided by YA Bound Book Tours as part of the book tour, in exchange for a honest review.
Fresh, futuristic, dark, scary, and thrilling all at the same time... Even people who don't usually read sci-fi/fantasy type stories will be able to feel grounded.
– Sydney Scrogham, author of Chase
A century ago, the world burned. Even now, though rebuilt and defiant, civilization is still choking on the ashes.
Jackson, a smuggler, lives in the shadows, once a boy with no memory, no name, and no future. Ravens followed him, long-extinct birds only he could see, and nightmares flew in their wake. Once, Jackson thought himself to be one of the lucky few touched by magic, a candidate for the Order of Mages. He is a man now, and that dream has died. But, the ravens still follow. The nightmares still whisper in his ear.
Anna’s life was under the sun, her future bright, her scientific work promising. She knew nothing of The Bombings, the poisoned world, or the occult. One day, she went to work, and the next, she awoke in a box over a hundred years in the future, screaming, fighting to breathe, and looking up into the eyes of a smuggler. Anna fears she’s gone crazy, unable to fill the massive hole in her memories, and terrified of the strange abilities she now possesses.
The Coalition government has turned its watchful eyes towards them. The secret factions of the city move to collect them first. And, old gods stir in the darkness, shifting their pawns on the playing field.
If Anna and Jackson wish to stay free, they must learn what they are and why they exist.
Unfortunately, even if they do, it may be too late.
Raven Song is the first of a four book adult-oriented dystopian fantasy series, a story of intrigue, love, violence, and the old spirits in the shadows who wait for us to notice them again. Readers of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Charlie Human will enjoy this dark magic-laced tale rooted on the bones of what our world could become.
I expected Raven Song to be a good read and that is exactly what I got. The first two things I love about this book are the cover and the title. I am a big fan of ravens and I also appreciate when the cover matches the title and the content. Afterwards the blurb and the mix of genres convinced me one hundred percent that this read is exactly what I have been searching for a while and that it is a must.
While I was discovering the world created by the author, I noticed the awesome mix of genres. I love fantasy stories and I like dystopian, but it is quite rare a combination of them. Usually, dystopian books have a lot of SF elements, which is nice too, but dystopian fantasy is definitely a genre I am into. However, to my mind, Raven Song needed a little more world-building, because I was left with many unanswered questions concerning the setting, history, daily life and the government. Maybe the next novel will come with the answers.
Moving on, I must say, I am not a native English speaker, but I can tell when a book is written by a talented author. Raven Song is no exception. The writing is beautiful, highly expressive. I particularly like how the author described the characters' feelings.
One other thing I appreciate about this book is that it is about real individuals, real humans, with lots of problems and various issues (both internal and external) to deal with. Raven Song is built due to its characters and, at the same time, for its characters, so they can unravel their stories, discover themselves and their role and fix their problematic souls. That is how I got to know a diverse range of characters.
Jackson Dovetail was the first one to surprise me. He is a very pleasant character, as I said, he is a real human being. Aside from the "weird" things about him, he is just like any of us. He has holes he needs to cover up, is disoriented and wants answers (he deserves them too, I believe). Then, is Anna. She also managed to make herself likeable, but more gradually, as far as I am concerned. It was great to see much more action from her, in the second half of the book. Anway, from the moment I found out what happened to her over a century ago, and seeing how she took action after this disclosure, I have taken her into my heart and I am sure I will keep her there.
And there, behind the glass, was no gun stash, no bombs, no drugs, no illicit data chips.It was a woman, a young woman, eyes closed as if asleep.Jackson blinked.“Well, shit,” Frank said for both of them.
Her relationship with Jackson builds up brick by brick. There is a connection between them, as they can understand and help each other, but this connection only creates the opportunity for them to engage in a genuine relationship. It is a long process though, because they still need to build the trust and the openness.
Frank, Jackson's old pal, is so funny, so true and, most important, loyal to the young Dovetail. Agent Walker is another individual I find very interesting and human-like, although this wasn't my first impression of him. I would mention other few characters, but their situation is uncertain and I don't want to give any spoilers. I look forward to reading the next book, so I find out what happened with these mysterious characters and what awaits the ones I have talked about above.
Last but not least, I enjoy that this book manages to break the patterns somehow: we still have the chosen one, we still watch some magic going on (which, as a rule, can be found in fantasy) and we still have the absurd government (found in dystopias), but the way I.A. Ashcroft cloaked them with something else, something original is what makes this book unique. Jackson may be the chosen one, but there is no prophecy that says so. Instead, Raven Song has some curious, intriguing characters who think and say that Jackson is the one. Moreover, the Order of Mages is not the nice, friendly, open to discussion group of so-called gifted people, but rather an obscure, bitter and exclusive bunch of mages. I may be repeating myself, but I am truly looking forward to the sequel and, implicitly, to further uncovering the Order, its members, its preoccupations and intentions.
Yet I have a small objection (besides the world-building aspect). I feel that the first half of the book is a bit too dreamy, so to speak. Jackson has many dreams, visions and I don't say they were poorly written or useless, not by a long shot. But the story I was eager to see developing was slowed down and the action, delayed. That is why I read the first half of the book a little slower than the second half, which was dynamic, combining both action-packed and static parts.
Overall, I believe this book is worth reading and rereading. The writing is enchanting, the characters are very realistic and easy to get along with, the story is authentic. Raven Song is a great read and a stunning intro to a series that will certainly be a success.
The harsh arena lights were like the sun, drying Jackson’s blood to his skin. Flickers of black wheeled in his vision against the light. Then, they weren’t flickers anymore. They were dark-feathered birds croaking their song overhead, circling, watching.
His companions until the end. Always.
My Rating: 4/5