Etta

Audiobook Review: In the Ravenous Dark

Published May 18th 2021

Author: A.M. Strickland

Narrator: Lauryn Allman

Audiobook Length: 14 hours 38 minutes

A pansexual bloodmage reluctantly teams up with an undead spirit to start a rebellion among the living and the dead.

In Thanopolis, those gifted with magic are assigned undead spirits to guard them—and control them. Ever since Rovan’s father died trying to keep her from this fate, she’s hidden her magic. But when she accidentally reveals her powers, she’s bound to a spirit and thrust into a world of palace intrigue and deception.

Desperate to escape, Rovan finds herself falling for two people she can’t fully trust: Lydea, a beguiling, rebellious princess; and Ivrilos, the handsome spirit with the ability to control Rovan, body and soul.

Together, they uncover a secret that will destroy Thanopolis. To save them all, Rovan will have to start a rebellion in both the mortal world and the underworld, and find a way to trust the princess and spirit battling for her heart—if she doesn’t betray them first.

In the Ravenous Dark has been on my TBR for quite some time and even was featured on one of my many TBR posts. I debated on whether to do the audiobook version or the ebook and ultimately went with the audiobook. I loved the audiobook as the author added a nice range of emotions throughout the book. It was nice to also hear all the places and characters spoken aloud rather than trying to figure them out in my head. The novel hooks the reader right away with a very dramatic prologue with the main character’s father sacrificing himself to save his family.

Rovan is the main character in this story and is secretly a 19-year-old blood mage. She is also illiterate, which was well done on the author’s part. I love that this did not hold her back and not stigmatized, while also being acknowledged as part of her character. In order to prevent capture by the crown, she needs to keep her magic a secret. However, she makes a mistake and her powers are revealed. She is taken captive and brought to the royals where she is entangled in the secrets, betrayals, and royal drama. Although the character comes across as selfish, she was still enjoyable. I appreciated that she made many poor decisions and was not perfect. Sometimes her character was a little much in her stubbornness, but there is so much going on in the story that it did not take away from my enjoyment. Rovan grows a lot and goes through a lot of trial and error during the story as she enters a world that she knew little about.

The amount of representation in this novel is insane as it showed great talent on the part of the author. Each character is written well with their own great personalities and backstory. They all fit well in the story and none of them feel forced or out of place. It was very refreshing as everything felt natural and did not feel that the author was being preachy about each character or wrote them one way or another for the sake of adding representation. (Apologies as I am having difficulty expressing my exact thoughts.) Rovan is a pansexual, Lydea is a lesbian, and Japha is a non-binary asexual. Polyamorous relationships are explored in this story and, again, it is not stigmatized in the story, which was enjoyable. While I loved all the romances and potential romances (whether platonic, familial, or romantic), many of them felt rushed as I did not feel there was enough build up before they actually happened.

There is a lot of plot in this story and, at times, I wished that this were changed to a duology, as there was definitely enough material. While the story made sense and the characters worked well, I feel there is a lot more that could have been explored to expand this standalone into a duology without stretching it too thin to go fully into a trilogy. The different magic systems are very intricate and while they are well described, I still would have liked more exploration of them, including some more history. On the other hand, I did appreciate that this was a standalone, as they seem to be rare. It was nice to pick up a fantasy story and know that everything will wrap up by the end and I would not have to read the next one to find a conclusion.

Overall, this story has amazing potential. The premise is amazing and the execution was almost there. The main issue just seemed to be there was a lot of material and not enough time to fully connect with everything.  The romances were amazing, but I felt that the story jumped from point A to point C while missing point B, which is usually that building tension before the characters acknowledge the romance. The story itself did keep me guessing, as there were many twists and turns within the plot. The main character was extremely intriguing as, again, she was not perfect, yet she worked hard to find a way to save herself and those she cared about There is an excellent found-family concept in this story that was heart-warming. The novel had a fantastic premise and was greatly enjoyable, but I do wish that it were a further explored duology.

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