Review | In the Ravenous Dark by A.M. Strickland (ARC)

Title: In the Ravenous Dark by A.M. Strickland

Published: May 18, 2021

Genre(s): fantasy, romance, magic, LGBTQIA+

Read as: ebook, eARC

Rating: 3

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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. (Goodreads)

I am sitting here, staring at my screen, a little unsure of where to begin. This book left me with conflicting feelings and I’m waffling on whether I did or whether I didn’t actually enjoy this story. If I say, “Yes, I did!” now, in five minutes I’m likely to change my mind. Let’s work these feelings out together, shall we?

I enjoyed reading a fantasy novel that had polyamory that wasn’t frowned upon. Our main character, Rovan, has strong feelings for both Lydea, the rebellious princess, and Ivrilos, her…ghost warrior guard/keeper? While, obviously, Ivrilos was written as a romantic interest with ulterior motives I just didn’t like him. He is a soft boy with big ghost swords and even bigger secrets and his very nonexistence made my nose curl.

The plot is what really drew me to this book. I love a good Save The World story with a side of romance and rebellion. While the overarching plot is good, even great, in concept, I just don’t feel like it was executed well. While some inconsistencies I can excuse for this being an ARC, and I know further editing will occur before the finished book is released, it didn’t stop from the overall story from feeling choppy. While reading, it felt like the writer had a bullet point list of how things should happen and once the item was achieved we moved along to the next point without much in the way of transition. Typically these scene changes seemed to involve our main character becoming black out drunk or being knocked out which allowed transition to the next scene and bullet point item without any kind of flow or set up. She just suddenly wakes up somewhere else and we piece together where she is now and what is going on from there. It left the story feeling choppy and inconsistent.

Despite these little annoyances, I did like the book overall. The plot was interesting enough to keep me engaged and caring how everything sorted out in the end. While I do think the ending was also overly convenient it worked to a point within the confines of the existing plot. Do I wish the plot dug a little deeper and that the story was more fleshed out? Absolutely. But as is, it is still good.

Did I manage to work through my feelings for this book? I’m not sure. The choppy story telling and lack of depth frustrated me but at the same time I felt invested in the outcome. The characters were distinct and had obvious and unique characteristics that set them apart. It was also nice seeing a gender queer side character but as I don’t identify as gender queer I can’t say whether or not that was well represented. So, I suppose, overall this book was pretty good but there were definitely points to be improved upon but I would still pick up books by this author in the future.

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