Cover Image: In the Ravenous Dark

In the Ravenous Dark

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Member Reviews

What a ride! While this book started off in a political/tactical sort of way, it lunged into full throttle by the end. I will say, there are trigger warnings everywhere - a big one being the blood magic. The queer rep was refreshing and lovely. And the character arcs were wild! I couldn't believe some of the characters who I loved by the end. It was intense, at times shocking, and an all around action-fest!
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"My father has said it's not his bloodline that's killing him. Bloodmages in Skyllea aren't suffering the same fate. Something is wrong with Thanopolis, and it stinks of death. Maybe while I'm trying to survive life in the palace and find a way to escape both its walls and my guardian, I can also try to discover what's happening, so my father can survive his bloodline, too."

Rovan had done such a good job of hiding her powers. After her father, an unregistered bloodmage, was discovered and taken, grievously injured, when Rovan was 7, it's just been her and her mother, a weaver. Rovan, now 19, uses her small magical knowledge to aid her mother in making beautiful cloth, saving up for her dream of travelling to Skyllea, her father's home. But those plans are ruined when Rovan wakes one morning with Bethea, on top of the gazebo in the agora. Rovan makes her way to the ground safely, but Bethea slips, and without thinking, Rovan uses her best known sigil, move, to save her - gently moving all the blood in Bethea's body to lift her and pulling all the water from the fountain to catch her. Rovan is captured and brought to the palace.

Bloodmages have a bloodline of red sigils along their body, storing their magical knowledge. In Thanopolis, bloodmages must be registered, and it is expected that they will pass their bloodline on to their child with the greatest magical ability by the time the child is 20, a process that will kill the parent. Bloodmages also must be bound, wards to a guardian. The guardians are dead spirits who appear to others as dark shadows - unless they're materializing to protect or discipline their ward. 

In short order, Rovan's powers are confirmed and she is forcibly bound to Ivrilos, her father's guardian. Although she and her mother thought him dead, her father Silvean has been living in the palace since he was taken, married to one of the princesses. He is aged, much more than he should have given only the years that have passed. He has his suspicions that something is wrong with the way bloodmages function in Thanopolis; in fact, he originally came from Skyllea with a delegation who believed that the blight spreading over the world had its origins in Thanopolis. Now Rovan must live in the palace. If she obeys, attending lessons and social engagements, her mother may be released from where she is being held. Meanwhile, Rovan searches, for a way out, both from the city and from her bond, and for the truth.

Okay, first up: LOVE a fantasy standalone. Thank you. I felt like there was a good amount of worldbuilding and really like that this magical Grecian setting featured snarky characters with a modern way of speaking. There were some really great scenes that resulted from others not being able to see or hear one's guardian. As always, I love a deathy story. I wouldn't say there's necromancy here (though there are some practitioners of death magic), but I do think this would be a good read for fans of Gideon the Ninth, and possibly Reign of the Fallen. The rep here was lovely - a pan main character, lesbian love interests, and ace/non-binary important side character. There is romance here for sure, but also an emphasis on the importance of platonic friendships.

You may want to be aware before reading this one that there is death (lots, and of various family members), blood and violence (they're not called bloodmages for nothing), mention of abuse, and some gore.

Thank you to Macmillan and NetGalley for the eARC. In the Ravenous Dark was published May 18th.
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This was a 3.5-star read for me but I had a great time reading it and I know many others will love this. This was a super enjoyable read despite how dark it is (see content warnings!!!) I loved the queer representation in the book and the way that sexualities/identities were not looked down upon in this world. The main character is pansexual, there's a major nonbinary supporting character, a lesbian love interest, and an overall sense of acceptance of others' preferences.

I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second. The second half felt a little too tropey and I won't mention which tropes so I don't spoil anything. But one major issue I had was insta-love. Normally, I can look past it but I had a hard time with this one. As much as I wanted to believe in these characters' love, I just didn't. One trope I did appreciate was found family. I'm a sucker for found family and I loved how it was done here.

Overall, I wanted MORE from this book. More fleshed out world building, more character/relationship development, and maybe a duology so things could have been less rushed in the end. Still, this was a fun read (despite the darkness) and there were even some laugh out loud moments. I definitely recommend this to fantasy fans who are looking for awesome queer rep!

CW: death, death of a parent, violence, blood, forced marriage, threat of rape/abuse
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This was such fantastic story! First off, I want to shoutout to Strickland for creating pansexual, non-binary and other characters fitting into the LGBTQ representation throughout the novel but in a way that was not forced and added so much more to the overall plot. Such a smoothly implemented coverall of acceptance, understanding and appreciation.

The worldbuilding is set between the kingdom of Thanopolis and the dark city of the underworld. Beautiful imagery and atmospheric writing crafted a well-developed ancient Greece/Rome-like world. The magic system helped add more to the worldbuilding with the descriptions of the shields preventing the encroaching deadly blight into cities. I appreciated how Strickland’s writing style creatively molds all of the plot points, world building and magic system together. Each aspect feeding off the other to create this novel. The magic system was really unique to me too. Bloodlines, mages, and this tethered connection to the underworld really set the feel for the darker portions of this novel.

The characters are everything. Absolutely everything for me. Rovan makes for an excellent pansexual MC with strengths, flaws and even an odd suave perceived carelessness that I appreciated. I did want a little more depth from her since she barricaded her feeling a lot in the beginning. Almost too long of a stretch before her walls break and the growth can seep in. I freaking adored the sarcastic banter between Rovan and her guardian, Ivrilos. It kept me grinning like a goof and having a few good snort laughs along the way. The way Strickland built the persona of Ivrilos was perfection. From start to finish the perception of him morphs and grows and created such a deeply crafted character. Honestly, I can’t decide who I loved more between Ivrilos and Japha! Japha is just downright exceptional. They really bring to light the non-binary persona and the beauty of their character. I loved the almost ace-like aspect to Japha along with the way their individuality shined next to all of the other characters. Quite literally the bright star of the group for me. I could seriously keep going on the characters. I loved their development and what each one added to the story.

This brings me to the one area I wanted less of and I believe it is truly personal preference. Inner monologue. I wanted more character interaction and less of the inner thought process. I tend to have this thought a lot with YA reads though and feel characters spend a tad too much time over-hashing or reiterating things in their head. For me this took away from adding more character depth, interaction and plot growth. Don’t let this sway you though. Like I mentioned, it is a personal preference. Between the characters and the twisting plot, I was hooked from start to finish. There are mild intimate scenes, hints of sexual abuse, some cursing and excellent LGBTQ representation as noted. This is a darker read with facets that focus on death, shades, cruel royals and the underworld. Truly one of the more unique reads of my year! Let’s not forget the plot twists!! Holy heck there were a few times I almost threw my kindle… I was THAT invested!

Thank you to MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group, Fierce Reads, NetGalley and A.M. Strickland for the opportunity to read and review this gifted digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I cannot wait to add this one to my shelves! True rating 4.5/5.
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I couldn’t get enough of this book. “A pansexual bloodmage reluctantly teams up with an undead spirit to start a rebellion among the living and the dead.” This blurb sums of the book so well, yet there are so many layers and discoveries throughout that made this an exciting read. 

While growing up, Rovan’s father tried to keep her magic under the radar. The magic attached to his bloodline is powerful, but not strong enough to protect his daughter from a  fate where she would be bound to an undead spirit. With her father out of the picture after being hunted down, Rovan was able to go years avoiding the life he desperately didn’t want for her. That is until doing the right thing leads to her discovery and capture. Her magic is exposed and she’s thrust into a life she despises. It’s in this new life that she finds love larger than what she thought was possible and a purpose only she could fulfill. To set things right, she must learn to trust the very people she sees as untrustworthy.

I typically don’t like love triangles, but this one I didn’t mind, and I actually found myself rooting for them both. The relationship between Rovan and Ivrilos reminds me of Bryce and Hunt from the book Crescent City. I liked the different characters, and I enjoyed seeing the development of their friendship/relationship. 

I also really liked the pacing of the journey and the twists. It kept me engaged and wanting more.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advanced e-ARC!
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In the Ravenous Dark is such an interesting story and I absolutely loved it! Rovan is such a real and likeable protagonist, struggling with a society and history that is so incredibly frustrating and upsetting (for both her and the reader), and balancing both life and death, Rovan comes out on top with new love, friends, and powers.

A.M. Strickland hooked me from the very beginning with this world dynamic of bloodmages and guardians, and just kept coming with the emotional deep cuts that Rovan - and the reader - has to work through. These characters are amazing, I absolutely love the lgbtqia, pronoun, and variety of relationships representation, and I'm super into this kind of myth/mythological creature origin vibe that In the Ravenous Dark leads us on (you'll have to read to find out more!)

This haunting, dark, and mysterious world is mesmerizing!
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In the Ravenous Dark by A.M Strickland 

I received an eArc of this book for review  provided by NetGalley. 

A pan sexual bloodmage reluctantly teams up with an undead spirit to start at rebellion among the living and 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. Roman 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. 

There are some TW that some readers may find sensitive (death, violence, blood)

I was sold off the summary alone. This book has everything I love in a dark fantasy;  Magic, spirits, scheming, secrets, plotting. The pace is fast, things take off right at the beginning. For a stand alone, the world building is fantastic. Strickland does an excellent job keeping you engaged and on the edge of your seat.  I also really liked that there is a lot diversity and representation. I haven’t come across another fantasy like this.
 
I would also consider this more an Upper YA book.  Overall I really enjoyed this and would recommend if you’re looking for an epic dark fantasy.
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After reading Beyond the Black Door and being a bit disappointed with the execution of the book, I still looked forward to the prospect of In the Ravenous Dark since I chalked up my grievances with the author’s previous book as a lack of experience since Beyond the Black Door was their debut. Well, it’s safe to say that I just am not a fan of the way that Strickland writes fantasy books.

So what is incredible about this story is the queer normative world. Everyone is open about both sexual and gender identity. Our MC Rovan is pansexual. Japha is non-binary and asexual. Lydea is lesbian. There’s no judgments on relationships, number of partners, etc. Loved all of those things.

I also really enjoyed Rovan as a character. She’s feisty, strong-willed, independent, and literally doesn’t take anyone’s BS. Rovan is also messy and finds herself in some rather interesting predicaments thanks to her own decisions.

What didn’t work for me is the plot and the execution. The world building takes a back seat in this book in favor of character development, so it’s rather nebulous until you get random info dumps that don’t really backfill all of the questions you have in the first place. There’s also a plot twist that happened about 60% into the book that I legitimately do not understand.

I’m disappointed because there was so much potential in this story, but it ultimately left a lot to be desired.

Thank you to Macmillan Audio for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.
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I was excited to read In The Ravenous Dark based on the premise and the gorgeous cover as it falls into a niche category of books I love: dark, queer fantasy with hate to love romance. Unfortunately, due to a combination of having read a few too many of that type of book recently, and this book having some specific elements that I dislike, as well as just generally not connecting with the writing, I didn’t end up loving this one. The main issue lies in the fact that I don’t like Greece as a setting or aesthetic inspiration. I probably wouldn’t have requested this arc if I’d known that’s what this world was drawing inspiration from. That said, this book definitely builds on that aesthetic with lush florals (in their clothes and their decor), and bones, particularly skulls, which is a specific niche aesthetic element I love, but unfortunately wasn’t enough to keep my interest in this book. Which goes back to what I was saying about just not connecting with the writing. I don’t think this book is bad by any means and wouldn’t want to steer anyone interested away from it, it just wasn’t the book for me. I would still strongly recommend it, especially for the queer elements. Along with multiple queer side characters, our main character is poly, developing two separate romantic relationships, one with a man and one with a woman, throughout the book. The polyamory was one of the major reasons I picked it up, but I personally prefer to read about poly relationships wear all of the people involved are together, a true triangle rather than a V. Unfortunately polyamory is severely underrepresented in fiction, and beggars can’t be choosers, so despite my lack of personal investment, I did appreciate the mature and kind conversations displayed between the characters. I would still highly recommend anyone interested in this book to give it a go, and would potentially be interested in reading more from the author in the future. More than anything I wish I’d loved it so I could justify buying a finished copy for that gorgeous cover. 

Thank you to Macmillian Children’s Publishing Group and Netgalley for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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This is a hard one for me to rate. Because I loved the queer found family aspect, the openness about sexuality, sex, gender, and love (which is not a finite resource) - and having these characters being unabashedly themselves in the wake of a very misogynistic and patriarchal society was awesome and heartening.

Also Rovan being selfish and angry and making mistakes is absolutely the move. It frustrated me as a reader who was rooting for her, but it also made me really want to see her grow. And we did get that.

However, at about 70% the book got really weird. The change in direction kind of turned me off from the rest of the book. I think part of it was that the passage of time was nebulous (I'm always really dubious about timeline when characters start throwing the word "love" around and being super self-sacrificial) and part of it was the lack of movement/action in the first half then turned on its head with a very action-packed last 1/3.

So overall enjoyable but not a favorite. I enjoyed it for the queer rep and open discussions of identity and found family vibes. But trust seemed too freely given when everyone is out for blood. Sometimes literally.
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3.5 stars rounded up. 

This was much better than beyond the black door! Still some technical issues but the shadow magic teased in BTBD was prominent here. I had a feeling Strickland would be able to write a fantastic shadow magic book and this didn’t miss on that front. I loved how the blood magic, shadow magic, and death magic were all interwoven in the story and seeing how they worked together. That was my favorite part.
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In the Ravenous Dark is a epically fantastic standalone fantasy that I simply adored! It’s not often that a standalone (especially fantasy) doesn’t leave me wanting more. This book gripped me from the VERY first chapter and kept me pretty much until the end. It was very twisty and VERY FULL of amazing lgbtq representation that was just so fantastic and expertly written. Specially the main character is pansexual and finds herself wanting to very different yet both very amazing characters and I’m just plain old obsessed!

I will say this book took a turn towards the end that I didn’t see coming and wasn’t sure how I felt about it but in the end it worked out for me. There were also little parts I wasn’t sure about the writing style, something felt off here and there but I seriously loved this story and the completely unique magic system had me devouring the pages to find out more!

This book was also VERY dark and FULL of trigger warnings, like seriously, check them out. This was one of the darker YA books I’ve read but I truly loved the story and the found family in this book had me smiling ear to ear. Rovan, the main character, also has a very excellent character arc and really pulls through and I just love her!
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HIGHLIGHTS
~Everyone cool is queer
~not-gory blood magic!!!
~ghosts can be hotties too
~poly + found-family FTW

In The Ravenous Dark is pretty boundary-pushing for YA Fantasy – this is one of the first times I’ve seen a pansexual main character, for example, and while it’s not quite the first polyamorous YA Fantasy I’ve seen, it is only the second. Strickland is quite happy to go where few others dare to tread, and I applaud it.

But as much as I wanted to, I didn’t end up loving this book.

And in total fairness, I don’t think it’s because it’s a bad book. I think it’s me. I’ve been struggling more and more with YA lately, and it might be time to call it quits. Because the things I didn’t enjoy about In The Ravenous Dark are all more to do with YA styles and conventions than anything else, and those aren’t flaws when the book is, you know, YA. They’re features, not bugs.

So I’m going to break this down, being as objective as I possibly can.

The Good
The cast was great. It was a nice if disorientating change to have a main character who drinks too much and is also illiterate; Rovan does not walk onto the stage as an all-powerful badass. She has a temper, she can be nasty and vicious, she can act without thinking. All of these things make her interesting, and they make her feel very human. Lydea, Rovan’s female love interest, had plenty of dark-and-sexy vibes, and gradually let Rovan inside her defenses in a way that worked for me. Ivrilos, Rovan’s male love interest, was conflicted and complicated and really Not a Nice Guy, which earns him points in my book.

And of course Japha, Rovan’s best friend inside the palace, was absolutely the star of the show: an asexual, nonbinary fashionista who always manages to look fabulous, say something clever, and be there when you need them. I will be surprised if most readers don’t walk away from In The Ravenous Dark with Japha as their favourite character; they were certainly my favourite!

The found-family vibes Are Strong In This One. The developing relationships tying Rovan, Japha, Lydea, and Ivrilos together made my heart melt, and seeing them repeatedly back each other up and stand together was beyond heart-warming (although you should be warned: it takes a while for Ivrilos to get on board). But I also enjoyed the fact that it’s not all smooth sailing; there are misunderstandings and thoughtlessness and outright fuck-ups that cause tension and pain. Theirs is a very unconventional set-up, and it’s not easy to bring it all together – but it’s so worth it, because the end result is priceless.

And on that note: Strickland is not afraid to go there. Although the story never got very gory (thank goodness, I don’t do well with gore) it definitely gets plenty dark, emotionally, and Strickland doesn’t pull their punches. The lines most authors won’t cross? Get crossed here. And it’s very difficult to talk about that without spoilers, so let me just say that I was and am impressed that Bad Things Happen, even to people we like, even in ways that we are trained, as readers, to expect will work out okay. I spent a good chunk of this book thinking well, that would be bad, but it won’t actually HAPPEN because the worst never happens in books so it’s fine – and then The Thing would happen.

Nobody’s safe, and I think that’s a good thing. It’s brave and it’s interesting and it keeps the reader on their toes.

I’m also a terribly shallow person and loved the glimpses we got of Skylea, the homeland of Rovan’s father, because it was all just so pretty. Cities in trees! Magic-coloured hair! White tigers! There were definitely some elven/fae vibes and I would have loved to have gotten to see more of it.

The Bad
I found the second half of the book a bit rushed, and the twists and turns and reveals were mostly pretty predictable. That said, they were predictable in a vaguely YA way (I have no idea how to better explain what I mean, readers who read both YA and Adult will hopefully understand???) so if you enjoy YA Fantasy in general, I don’t think it’ll bother you.

The worldbuilding initially looked like it was going to be really interesting, but then it kind of faded out. The magic systems = awesome; the worldbuilding, not so much. I always have so many questions when underworlds/afterlives/Realms of the Dead are involved, and they were not answered here. Again, it’s difficult to discuss without going into spoilers, but I found the underworld and how it worked incredibly simplistic.

I also wasn’t really interested in any of the villains. One of the more minor ones revealed some unexpected depth at the last moment, but then is promptly Taken Out, so. The rest, the Big Bads? Were just…blandly evil. No complex motivations or even an interesting set of goals. They were also extremely misogynistic, which was never explained. Don’t get me wrong, the misogyny helped me despise them and the system they’d built, but I would have liked to know why they hated women so much. Blegh.

Finally, as much as I loved Lydea and Rovan’s relationship and how it developed, Rovan’s relationship to Ivrilos – which is initially pretty damn complicated, with power dynamic issues and betrayals and lies all mixed up together – turned romantic…not out of nowhere, but I wasn’t super happy with how the Issues that made Rovan dislike and distrust Ivrilos were all kind of brushed aside more than resolved once it was Romance Time. Although under the circumstances I very much understand why Ivrilos makes his declaration of love when he does, I had a hard time believing that Rovan would immediately forget all the crap he’d pulled previous to that point.

(I did immensely approve of the fact that Ivrilos just makes heart-eyes when Rovan goes full-on scary-monstrous. Give me all the guys who adore their terrifying girlfriends, please!)

The Extremely Not-Great
The first sex scene in the book, which takes place between two women, is a fade-to-black. That’s fine with me; I rarely enjoy explicit sex scenes, so I’m perfectly happy when the narrative decides to skip them.

…What’s less cool is when the F/F scene is fade-to-black, but your F/M sex scene is explicit. Because then you’re treating the two kinds of sex – I don’t want to say ‘queer sex and straight sex’, because the F/M scene is not straight sex, at least one of the participants is queer even if they are, at that moment, engaging in sex with someone of the opposite gender. Doesn’t matter, doesn’t make them straight.

And I want to be charitable and say that maybe Strickland wasn’t confident in their ability to write F/F sex, and that’s why it’s not there. But in that case, both sex scenes ought to have been fade-to-black. Fading to black on one but not the other…it reads as, ‘this kind of sex is Not Suitable for Young People to read about, but this one is totally fine’. It’s like saying F/F is dirty or only suitable for porn, whereas sex between a man and a woman is healthy and fine and nothing to worry about. Otherwise, why would you ‘censor’ one but not the other?

I seriously doubt Strickland intended to make it feel that way, and I am deeply suspicious that someone in the editing process insisted on a F/F sex scene being cut if the book was going to be published – we’ve seen that before. But however and whyever it happened, it left me with a pretty bad taste in my mouth.

In Conclusion
All in all, I did enjoy this, and I especially loved how so many aspects of it push convention (I desperately want to write an essay on how Strickland totally subverts the Bury Your Gays trope!!!) I wish it had been written as Adult rather than YA, but as a YA novel, it’s a great standalone fantasy with some fab non-traditional queer rep, that goes places I’ve rarely seen YA Fantasy go. My personal feelings might be a bit mixed, but I did enjoy reading it, and I definitely recommend it if a dark, queer, YA story is what you’re looking for.
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Thank you NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s for a digital ARC of In the Ravenous Dark.

Content Warnings: death, violence, blood

I’ve been in a wicked reading slump the past couple of months but this book has put an end to that. This story has just about everything I look for in a book: a strong yet imperfect main character, queer rep (pansexual, lesbian, nonbinary, asexual, polyamorous), POC rep, found family, a little bit of enemies-to-lovers, and lots of magic. On top of all that, we get thrown into this Greek-inspired world and all the royal politics that come with it. The world-building accompanies the plot development, which I greatly appreciate over a giant info-dump and it helps insert us into Rovan's journey.

This story managed to be both dark and humorous, exploring relationships in life and death. While the content may not be for everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed the book and its satisfying ending.
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I have no idea how this book is labeled as young adult. I'm not sure if it's a marketing thing to get it to sell more but it was certainly more violent and sexual then many "Adult" books I've read. Up until recently the fact that it was labeled as young adult would have been a turn off for me. However as of a few months ago I realized how much of an idiot I was being. Since then I've read several "YA" books that ranked up there with some of the best fantasy, horror and science fiction books I've ever read. Anyways, this book reminded me very much of Giden the Ninth and I expect a lot of comparisons to be made. It also kind of reminded me of The Golden Compass. However, it was also very different and very much its own thing. Its queer, involves blood magic and had a main character that is a total badass. Rovan is forced to hide her powers to avoid being linked up with a spirit and joining an army. It will make sense when you read it. Her father actually died to protect this secret. However due to a heroic act of kindness her cover is blown. Stuck in a palace with a watcher of sorts (no spoilers) she quickly tries to figure out what's going on with the help of a (adorable) new best friend and a (also badass) princess. Read this book! 5 out of 5!
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I'm always on the look for queer fantasy, so I was very excited to pick this up. plus it has a gorgeous cover! 

characters:
- great rep! (pan, poly, lesbian, and non-binary)
- loved all of them!
- wish Rovan's romantic relationships had been given more time to develop, the chemistry was there, I just prefer a slower burn

writing/plot: 
- pacing is kinda off, the beginning is great, middle is slow, and end is rushed
- im a sucker for world building and this book is no exception. the amount included in the book is perfect, but the world is so interesting that i just want to know more

overall thoughts:
many of my biggest issues about this book could have been resolved if it was a duology instead of a standalone. I wish the characters, plot, and relationships had just been given more time. But, overall, this book was amazing and I highly recommend it.
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This book exceeded my expectations when reading it. It reminded me of From Blood and Ash, but for a Young Adult style audience. I thoroughly enjoyed the LGBTQ+ representation in this book with a pansexual female main and polyamorous presentation in a healthy, non-conflict manner. And Japha stole the show! I fell in love with the fact they were nonbinary and asexual. It made them a unique and interesting character that I couldn’t help but develop an emotional attachment.
I think my only complaint is that I wish it was more than one book. I would have loved to see this book as a trilogy instead. It would have allowed for slowing down and enjoying some of the simpler moments in the book. However, the pacing is strong, and I finished the book satisfied with the ending. I just wanted to linger in the world a little longer for my own sake.
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*Review contains mild spoilers* I was so excited to be approved for an early copy of this book. The description made the book sound so unique and a new and fresh contemporary fantasy. I read a little over 100 pages before I decided to DNF because while I found the world interesting and the magic system unique, I wasn't a fan of the writing. To me, the dialogue was very cringy at times and there was no conviction behind anything the characters did. I loved the prologue; I thought that was the best part of what I read, I wanted more badass bloodmage scenes, and I know being within the royal palace is a main part of the plot, but it was pretty boring. I'm super sad I didn't end up enjoying the part that I read, but I know many of the other early reviews are stellar, so if it sounds interesting to you then definitely check it out regardless of my opinion!
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I love a good dark fantasy book, so it’s no surprise that I ate this one up! Rovan is a bloodmage but has hidden her powers since her father was murdered in front of her. She hated what magic brought, what it represented to her. One thing leads to another and she is exposed. Her exposure leads to being bound to a keeper… and finds out that maybe the magical world isn’t quite what she thought but she’s the perfect one to upend everything when secrets come out.

Love, love, love this book! I didn’t feel like the book dragged at all; the storyline just kept chugging along and there was plenty of action. Rovan is such a tumultuous character and yet seeing the journey, the inner struggle added to the plot. There were several other stand-out characters with their own personalities you may love, hate, or love to hate. Overall, quite the adventure!

This book offers readers a fast-paced dark fantasy with action, sexual tension, and deep characters. It is also an own voices, lgbtq+, and polyamory read. I very highly recommend it!
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What a great book! In the Ravenous Dark is a story of a girl who is hiding that she is a bloodmage so that she won't be taken by the king to be a soldier.  In the first chapter she watches her father killed by the guards for being an unwarded bloodmage, and then we flash 12 years in the future when she is found out herself.  In this land, all bloodmages (people with magic) are warded to a spirit to protect themselves and the people around them.  

This book was so much fun to read.  Not only do we have a great cast of characters but the plot took me places I never thought I would go! The worldbuilding was also fantastic, I felt like I could see so much in this book, even of the places we never got to travel to.  Each character was written so diversely and felt like they worked great together, even if they were enemies.  Our main character is pansexual, but there are also characters that are gay, trans, ace - and it didn't feel like lgbt+ bingo.  

We also have the age old favorite trope of Enemies to Lovers - which actually worked great here. Also an arranged marriage.  And a healthy polyamorous relationship. 

The pacing felt a bit off. The first60% of the book seemed to have a steady pace, not the fasted but not horribly slow either. But the last part of the book felt like it was trying to shove too many things into it.  Around 75% a big twist happens, and I felt like I was suffering from whip lash the rest of the book because of it. I hate to say it because I love standalone fantasy books, but I really felt like this could have really succeeded as a series, especially with how much went down at the end.

I would recommend this book to 14-17 year old fans of YA fantasy.  There were some one page sex scenes but they were very much fade to black; and while there was some gore/blood it was described in a way that didn't make it gross.  I think most people would enjoy this story, it fell into some ya fantasy romance tropes, but was never to the point of making my eyes roll.  

My final thought is the last chapter wrapped everything up too perfectly for my taste.  I understand that that is something I don't like, and that many people will be happy with how it ended.

In conclusion - I really loved this book.  The writing was easy to read, but not too easy, I fell in love with the characters, and the plot was unique and interesting. I totally recommend!

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
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