The shadows of our pasts haunt us all, whether we know it or not. Such is the premise of Ashley Olivier’s The Raven Thief, a delightful YA fantasy that reminds us of such shadows, but also makes the journey of discovery enjoyable. At least, I found it throughly entertaining to read over the weekend.
1. Thoughts on the plot
This book follows the adventures of Enya, the Raven Thief and leader of the Grims street gang as she tries to run from the palace, against whom she has been rebelling. This leads her into an adventure with three not-so-dead “dead” princes, who have been set a task to find a magical sword. This task takes Enya, her second in command Carson, and the three princes on an adventure to unbury secrets of a dark, magical, and dangerous past.
Overall, the plot is a good one. There are enough things going on that we never grow bored, but the characters also have enough down time in order for us to process the events right along with them. The events are interesting and the way that they all link together is quite entertaining.
2. Thoughts on the main character
I like Enya. I think she’s snarky enough to take on the burdens of the rebellion herself, but smart enough to know she needs friends. But I also like the way that she has been portrayed, with the traumas of her past having been forgotten by Enya as a defence mechanism against said trauma. I think that this is a far more common means of moving past difficulty than people often expect, and this doesn’t often show up in books where the MC has a tragic backstory. The way that this was done was perhaps a little strong, given that most people don’t think about having forgotten the difficult times simply because they have been forgotten. However, Enya’s past with the royal family, for whom she worked, is intricately linked with her current circumstances and the story’s events as she works with the princes, so that does make sense.
Also, her relationship with Carson is truly adorable to read.
3. Favourite part
Carson is probably my favourite, well, character if not event. He is unswervingly loyal, and his feelings for Enya are both annoyingly subtle and too obvious. As a character goes, he supports Enya’s role perfectly and later on in the book makes for great intrigue. And that ending!
My only critique is that some of the worldbuilding—primarily at the beginning—is a bit too obvious. This is mostly done in the way that Enya muses about the world around her, which is perfectly acceptable. The only problem is that some of these musings fall in between moments of intense action, where something happens that require an immediate reaction that is then interrupted with these moments of worldbuilding. The action Enya takes appears after these moments, but it also supposedly the immediate reaction required, which can bet a bit jarring because of the lag. However, this doesn’t happen but two or three times and mostly at the beginning, so it really doesn’t impact my impression of the book much.
I would say that The Raven Thief is a delightful YA fantasy with characters who are interesting and even fun to read, a challenge of increasingly desperate proportions to overcome, and an ending that leaves you eager for the next book—in a good way. This book is very good.