5 / 5 stars
Read in April 2020
Book #1 in The Raven and the Dove series
As a teenager in the mid-2000’s, I absolutely loved the 2006 movie adaptation of Tristan & Isolde starring James Franco. Although I haven’t seen that movie in years, the legend came back to me reading this book but with new twists and complex characters in a unique fantasy world. It was so much fun!
With only a few days of freedom remaining before her courtship trials, Princess Lyana “Ana” of the House of Doves longs for one final adventure before she is married off to the prince of another house. She and her best friend, Cassi, sneak away one morning hoping to catch a glimpse of the other houses as they arrive for the trials. What they don’t expect is they will rescue an injured raven after witnessing his fiery battle with a dragon.
Rafe, a raven bastard, will fight in the courtship trials in the place of his half-brother, Prince Lysander “Xander” of the House of Ravens. When a dragon attacks him and Xander during their journey, Rafe tells his brother to flee and faces the monster himself. Mortally wounded, he is rescued by a mysterious dove who also shares his affinity for magic, an affinity that is forbidden across the seven houses.
While concealing her identity and healing the injured raven she believes to be a prince, Lyana decides she will choose him as her match during the trials. He already knows her secret, and she would prefer to live the rest of her life without fearing someone will discover her magic. She also feels connected to him in a way she’s never felt with anyone before.
Meanwhile, the king beneath the clouds has dedicated his life to following a prophecy he believes he is destined to fulfill. The other half of this prophecy: Lyana. The plan he has put into motion approaches its final stages, and there’s nothing he won’t do to make sure it comes to pass.
A magical and heart-pounding fantasy retelling of Tristan and Isolde, Kaitlyn Davis’ The Raven and the Dove will blow you away. With complex characters who drive the plot, a unique and imaginative world, and a story with never-ending twists and turns, you won’t be able to put it down. The book is primarily told from four characters’ points of view, and you will find yourself understanding and cheering for each of them no matter how much their goals contradict one another. Lyana, Rafe, Xander, and Cassi will become your new favorite ensemble cast and leave you counting down the days until the sequel is released!
The memorable world of The Raven and the Dove includes royal houses and political intrigue, complicated family dynamics, magic systems, religions, prophecies, and two unique kingdoms; one above the clouds, and another below. I would’ve liked to have seen a bit more development regarding the religions and magic systems, as they were slightly confusing, but the story included enough details that I was willing to go along with it. Additionally, I’m not a fan of fantasy worlds where magic is forbidden, as I believe this is a cheap way to heighten the stakes; however, with everything else this book accomplished I was able to look past that as well. Lastly, there were moments this avian-inspired world came off as a bit bizarre (raven cry? neck feathers?), but I lovingly believe if you can handle what SJM throws at you in the ACOTAR series then you will be able to navigate The Raven and the Dove‘s world just fine.
More importantly, I adored every character in this story. Each had believable motives that often conflicted with one another to drastically heighten the stakes. I understood and rooted for each of our principal POV characters and even the majority of the side characters. Dramatic irony heightened the intrigue and I often pieced elements of the plot just as the characters did.
As a romance reader, I wish we could’ve felt the slow burn and tension between Lyana and Rafe a little bit more. Even for a YA novel, it could have benefitted from a bit more pining (surprising, right?), but overall the pacing was good and I’m interested to see how their relationship develops throughout the series.
PSA: If you haven’t read The Raven and the Dove yet, DO NOT look at the cover of book #2 in the series, The Hunter and the Mage. If you study it closely enough you will notice a spoiler from book #1 like I did!! Although the art is beautiful, wait until you finish the first book.
Overall, I highly recommend this book and can unquestionably say that it’s been one of my favorite fantasy books of 2020 so far!
Thank you to the author and Netgalley for providing me an eARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.