Blurb for RAVEN’S VOW
With his murderous former mentor dead, reformed dark mage Corwyn Ravenscroft is looking forward to a brighter future with Cassandra and their new son. But when a mysterious killer stalks their friends and associates, Raven realizes that he may not be the only one among their social circle with a dark past.
Jen’s Review of RAVEN’S VOW
First, I want to say “thank you” to Shawna Reppert. She kindly offered me a copy of Raven’s Vow because I reviewed and enjoyed the first three books of the series. Not only was I excited to continue the series, it also made me feel good that she remembered me.
Although I received an advanced reading copy in exchange for an honest review, my opinions are my own.
Raven’s Vow is a great addition to the Ravensblood series. It has likable, interesting, and well-rounded characters.
Raven and Cassandra are trying to settle into domestic life with their son Ransley. Raven continues to consult for Guardian International Investigations, where his wife Cassandra works as an agent. Life is never simple for them, though.
Someone vandalized headquarters, then their friend Holly is attacked. The danger escalates.
Raven teams up with local police to work on different angles of the case. They don’t know if he, Cassandra, Rafe (Cassandra’s partner), Sherlock (their boss), or someone else is the actual target of these attacks and taunts. All they know for sure is someone is targeting people within their circle.
The mystery of who was the target wasn’t hard to figure out, because there is a subplot told from the point of view of a character named Alicia who believed in the teachings of a cult and fell in love with its leader. A reader can connect the dots easily. However, the investigation stayed interesting. I didn’t guess the villain’s identity until close to the end. The author included enough red herrings to keep me guessing.
I felt the book started out a bit slow. And I grew impatient during the parts where Raven chased down leads that I could guess weren’t going to pan out. I think the story needed to move along faster. Maybe the reason I feel this way is because of the timing between taunts and attacks. For example, the first breach at headquarters takes place two weeks before the attack on Holly. Why did the perpetrator wait so long? This was just one of several questions I had about timing in the book.
I believe characterization is the strongest aspect of Raven’s Vow. The author showed the reader both external and internal conflicts, plus character growth and change.
Raven is a strong mage and has his opportunity to fight in the book, while trying to deal with his feelings–some familiar, some new. We don’t see the brooding Raven anymore, but he does still think about his past. And he still needs to temper his darker urges. But, now, he’s more worried about taking care of everyone else, protecting his friends and family, and not being the man some people think he should be because of his past.
Rafe’s behavior was spot-on for what he was going through. His grief, rage, paranoia, and misplaced blame are all realistic and compelling.
Alicia’s account of her feelings toward the cult and its leader, Jordan, was fascinating. I wanted to tell her she was an idiot, but I understood her perspective.
Shawna Reppert’s insight into human psyches shines in Raven’s Vow.
Cassandra is on the sidelines for a lot of the book because she’s taking care of their new son. Raven is the star, but Cassandra isn’t invisible. Toward the end she takes a more active role in the story.
I didn’t always understand the characters’ motivations. For example, I didn’t get why Moore was so hostile or why she seemed to have such a problem with Sherlock, even early on in the story. Furthermore, I didn’t feel convinced by the motivation of the villain. I mean, I understood why he was doing it; I just didn’t understand why he picked the people he did to attack. Maybe for me to see the connection clearly, I would need to know more about the relationships between those people. This is hard for me to explain without giving anything away.
I enjoy Shawna Reppert’s writing style. She keeps her writing clean and concise. One of the things she excels at is writing realistic dialogue. The setting details on the micro level are excellent. Reading this book was like watching a movie in my mind.
I would like more macro level details. Sometimes, I felt lost about the world they lived in, because it has been a while since I have read a book in the series. I don’t remember if there was much worldbuilding in the other books. It would have been good to have a recap of some things such as the Three Communities and Angla.
Do I Recommend?
Overall, I enjoyed reading Raven’s Vow. I liked it a lot. It just wasn’t a five-star read to me because of the pacing and scenes that I felt could have been eliminated or shortened because they didn’t have a lot of bearing on the outcome of the story. I know it’s difficult to decide what to include, what not to include, and how much is too much when it comes to checking out other suspects in a mystery. Although the other suspects were necessary to keep the reader guessing, I think too much time was spent on them. That’s just my opinion, and another reader might feel differently.
This is a good book to read if you like series that continue after the couple gets together and have a child. Some authors intentionally keep their characters from having a domestic life. Shawna Reppert didn’t do that. While I think the pace of the story occasionally suffered as a result, it helped me get to know the characters even better because I saw different sides of Cassandra and Raven I wouldn’t have seen if they didn’t have each other and a child to worry about.
I recommend Raven’s Vow to readers who like urban fantasy focusing on an investigation. There isn’t a lot of magic usage in this book, but there’s enough to satisfy.
My Rating: 4/5 stars (B)