Cover Image: In the Ravenous Dark

In the Ravenous Dark

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Member Reviews

I had reasonably high hopes for Into The Ravenous Dark after reading A.M. Strickland's debut novel Beyond The Black Door and giving it a 5 star rating, but I was (unfortunately) left feeling underwhelmed. 

 I appreciated the pan, lesbian, poly, non-binary and possibly ace representation, but felt as though the relationships and world building were underdeveloped. I also would've liked to have seen the main character explore/ learn more about her magic.
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In The Ravenous Dark follows Rovan, a pansexual bloodmage, who is in hiding to avoid being bound to an undead spirit. She is accidentally discovered and brought to the palace, where she plans to escape the grasp of the kingdom.

I really enjoyed this one! I think the best aspect is definitely Rovan as a character. She is a relatable, clever, and messy character with a lot of problems. Her character arc was really great, opening herself up to people and taking chances with trust.

The romances (m/f and f/f) were great. I loved Rovan and Ivrilos's chemistry, I think it was very well done. I do think that the romance between Rovan and Lydea was very instalove and came from nowhere, but I grew to love it as the book went on.

The side characters were great. Ivrilos is one of my favorites, with a tragic past and present. Lydea is kind of violent but in a fun way. Japha had a great friendship with Rovan, which was very refreshing to see.

The world was really interesting and immersive with the blight and its exploration of what happens after death. I think it was really well done.

I do think that the pacing was a little odd at times. The book did face a minor mid-book dip with a pause of plot progression, but other than that I think it was great.

Overall, if you are looking for a diverse, blood-soaked fantasy will great characters and a compelling plot, In The Ravenous Dark is for you!

CW: Death, Blood, Gore, Substance Addiction, Forced Marriage and Pregnancy, Language, Sex
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Blood. Magic. Death. Kisses upon kisses upon kisses for everyone who wants them. A girl and her ghost buddy, tag teaming against the universe, killing those alive and in the afterlife. In the Ravenous Dark has it all. If you like books with kissing, just imagine one where everyone gets kissed and GUESS WHAT? No one gets jealous. No one gets angry. Everyone is happy to share the kissing and the love. 

It's not very often you get a book like this, that loves LOVE and doesn't try to hide it. Moving well past the YA novels of the late 2000s/early 2010s where love triangles and jealous lovers were the trend, In the Ravenous Dark shows us the future: where books can be downright bloody and dark,  but also blissfully unapologetic in their romance. Strickland shows us just how diverse books SHOULD be, where it's not even an afterthought, or even a major plot point, but just part of the novel's worldbuilding, feeling as a natural as anything else.

I will post the natural CW of: blood, mentions of rape, mentions of physical abuse, emotional abuse, and death. However, it's all done tastefully and not gratuitously. Strickland knows their craft well and handles each with care. 

Within In the Ravenous Dark, Rovan quickly finds out her father is still alive and that the bloodline and magic she has inherited from him may be stronger than anyone has seen before. She is capable of more than anyone, even the Skylleans (where the bloodlines originated from) expected. When she is forced to accept her fate far earlier than she wants, she's bound to a four hundred year old guardian named Ivrilos, which she won't deny is kind of easy on the eyes, even if he isn't corporeal. Throw on top of that a newfound relationship with the Princess and a betrothal to someone horrific and Rovan is throwing herself head on into the chaos of Thanopolis' chaotic world. The deeper she gets involved and the more she discovers, the faster she realizes the fate of the world, and those she loves, is at stake. It gets heartwrenchingly dark, but follows it up moments of romance so touching, you too will want to cry tiny droplets of blood without realizing that's something you're capable of doing now, as well.

It's made me a beggar for more books with kissing, between everyone and anyone. The world needs more kisses and I hope this novel is the start of that trend. Too much of life is spent being jealous. Kiss who you want to kiss, you know?
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In Thanopolis, bloodmages are prized possessions of the King. They’re bound to guardians from the underworld to both protect … and to control them. Rovan’s father died trying to save her from this very fate, so she has spent her life having to hide her magic. However, when she accidently reveals her powers, she’s captured and thrown into a court of intrigue.

Be still my heart. As soon as I heard In the Ravenous Dark pitched as a story about a pansexual bloodmage, I was sold instantly. I love any book related to necromancy, so the blood and death magic components were completely up my alley.

I also really enjoyed the characters and the relationships in this book! Rovan is great as an MC. She’s flawed, impulsive, and filled with sass and wit. Not to mention, the enemies-to-lovers dynamic between Rovan and her ghostly guardian was probably my favorite aspect of the book.

However, I do feel like this book suffers from serious pacing issues. The story starts off incredibly strong with a fantastic hook. Then it suffers from a mid-novel slump with balls and tutor lessons, and by the second half, it becomes kind of a hectic mess with rushed character and plot developments. To be honest, I feel like a lot of my main gripes would have been resolved if the story had been told as a duology instead of a standalone—especially since it feels like the story also has 2 separate climaxes.

Pacing issues aside though, In the Ravenous Dark is an enjoyable queer fantasy filled with multi-faceted characters, delicious dark magic, and a steamy ghost romance.
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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. 

In the Ravenous Dark piqued my interest with the first lines of the blurb: “pansexual bloodmage reluctantly teams up with an undead spirit to start a rebellion among the living and the dead.” Yes, please! Add to this that the world is unapologetically queer friendly for the most part, even featuring a polyamorous (MFF) relationship, a non-binary supporting character, and other characters representing myriad shades of the LGBTQIA + rainbow. 

Rovan is exactly the sort of protagonist that intrigues me: complex and messy. She’s dealing with the fallout from her father’s murder, caring for her mother, and hiding her identity as a bloodmage. I loved her arc over the course of the story, as she builds a new found-family around her and rebuilds herself. 

And I really enjoyed both of her love interests. Her relationship with Ivrilos does have a bit of a power imbalance, but she holds her own very well. And while I did feel that the relationship with Lydea was a bit instalovey, I still enjoyed them together for the most part. And it’s so nice to read a YA that doesn’t make the lead choose between the two love interests for the sake of prolonged drama, when both are valid options. 

While this appears to be stand-alone, I’m interested in what Strickland writes next, especially if it’s just as queer. If you’re looking for a dark queer YA/NA fantasy, I think you’ll love this one.
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I was really excited about this book and it did not disappoint. 

**Trigger Warning...There is a lot of blood. If Blood magick is not your thing, this is not your book.**

Do not miss this amazing new read! Fast-paced with great character building and a wonderfully developed will for sure take you on an adventure.
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"A pan-sexual bloodmage reluctantly teams up with with an undead spirit to start a rebellion among the living and the dead."

Yep, that sums things up pretty well! In the Ravenous Dark is a decadent morsel of a book. Fast-paced, deliciously dark and bloody, filled with magic and death....highly recommend. Especially if you enjoy "unlikeable" heroines who refuse to fall in line, fight to their last breath, but are secretly soft with the people they truly care for. Rovan is exactly that and I love her, flaws and all.

In Thanopolis those gifted with blood magic must be controlled, and ever since seeing her powerful father die as a young girl, Rovan has been hiding her true nature. But a horrible mistake lands her in the sights of the royals. I don't want to give a lot of details because this is a book you just need to experience, but I loved it. It takes on misogyny and patriarchy, has all the queer rep, from a fabulous non-binary side character (ownvoices) to our pansexual, polyamorous heroine and more. It was a fantastic page turner of a book with some solid twists and a satisfying ending, as well as a good bit of angst, longing, betrayal, kissing, and more (note that there is some on-page sex though it is not explicitly described). I loved it and definitely would recommend. I received an advance copy of this book for review via NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

And because this author is the absolute best, they have provided a review with thorough content warnings! Check it out here:
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Rainbows and Sunshine Book Blog 
May 6, 2021
Rep: pansexual MC, lesbian LI, non binary ace best friend, polyamory (m/f/f), queer side characters

In the Ravenous Dark is fantastic standalone novel with romance and lots of blood! I must say, I did not expect to love it this much but it was morbid, creepy and absolutely spectacular.

The world building is really rich and intricate and I love casually queer the book it. Rovan is a great main character and one that is easily relatable. Her sassy one-liners were so good! The entire book is from her POV except for a chapter. I devoured this book!!!

The relationships in this book are one of my favourites. I really loved Rovan's relationships with Lydea and Ivrilos. But I think Japha might have stolen my heart! Their fashion *chefs kiss*

Rovan, Lydea and Ivrilos with Japha has a an amazing bond and if you love found family, polyamory, stunning world building, blood magic, dark fantasy and a romance that transcends death, then this book is perfect for you!

This is a new adult romance with a gripping plot that makes you addicted! It is a long book but the fast pace setting and beautiful writing made me fly through the pages.

CW: Blood, gore, mention of suicide, threat of rape, death, violence, alcohol

*ARC provided by publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review
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I started reading this the same day I got it because I've been so excited for this and it DELIVERED. There are so many things I want to talk about, but they're spoilers, so instead I'll say that this is one of the gayest books I've ever read - a pansexual lead! An f/f couple! An asexual, non-binary character! There's some polyamory! This book is NOT HERE TO PLAY when it comes to The Gay Agenda.

But it's also so dark. Rovan starts out as this alcoholic, slutty, queer weaver who's trying to grapple with her father's brutal murder by the government and keep her and her mother going while hiding that she's a bloodmage and things get REAL INTENSE from there. It's goth and bloody and dark. There's a hot dead guy. There's a major mystery. There's a really intricate family tree.

And through it all, Rovan finds her family. She finds love and acceptance and figures out pieces of herself. Her character arc is truly extraordinary in ways I can't fully explain without spoilers.

On top of that, Strickland keeps this humor throughout the story. Things were bloody and grotesque and I'm cringing away, but then Rovan makes a joke that's so true to her character - and the way a lot of us handle difficult things - and I'd laugh. It's a difficult line to walk when you're writing a book that gets so dark to still bring in this humor and this light, but Strickland does it.

This is truly one of the most special books I've ever read. It's so unique and so groundbreaking for YA and I cannot wait for y'all to read it.
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Thank you for the e-arc!

This was spooky and dark and full of vicious queers... which is my favorite type.

Must read!
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Thank you to Fierce Reads for an eARC in exchange for an honest review!

In the Ravenous Dark follows pansexual bloodmage, Rovan. Her father died when she was a child, and she's spent the years since with her mom in Thanapolois, hiding her bloodmage gift. Until one day she falls off a roof with the girl she's been seeing and saves her with her bloodmage gift. 

But in Thanapolis, those with the gift are bound to a spirit, a guardian. And when she arrives at the palace, she is forced to learn her abilities and live amongst royalty, falling for a princess and her brooding guardian. 

So, first of all, the magic system in this world is AMAZING, and it's so well written, It was explained so quickly and thoroughly, which was a nice change of pace for a fantasy! I loved the LGBTQIA+ rep and how open everyone seemed to be about, despite the gender roles of child bearing and court. 

Ivrilos was such a well written character, and I love his dynamic with Rovan.  Overall, I thought all of the characters were well flushed out, and the world building was fantastic. And honestly, i love that it was a standalone! I will say quite a bit of it read as adult. If NA were a genre, this would fit right in. Overall just above a 4 star for me, but not quite 5. 

CW: blood and death
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You can pretty much summon me with blood magic, ancient Greek influences, and queer fantasy.  One of my favorite elements of In the Ravenous Dark was the queerness. Not only is Rovan pansexual (YAY!), but there are is so much casual queerness all across the spectrum and also features a polyamorous relationship! Major win on that front and it was also just so lovely to read about this queer accepting fantasy world. The characters in In the Ravenous Dark have to my favorite element with my faves being Rovan and Lydea.

Rovan's character development, while I would have liked a bit more space for it to bloom, was one of my favorite elements. As readers we are able to see her grow, make mistakes, and find fuel for her fire. Embrace your power and let it all burn - is the mantra I have for every book basically. Especially in a system where women are used and hides dark secrets in every corner. I also loved the found family that Strickland highlights, and celebrates. I also really loved the, what I thought was, Greek inspirations in the world!
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World-building is intricate and well done, and the magic system is unique and intriguing. If you're up for an atmospheric read, then you'll enjoy this. Also I fully appreciate the LQBTQIA+ rep, and the characterization is great as well. Everything makes for an exciting and thrilling read. Definitely getting this for our collection.
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I can honestly say I have never read anything quite like In the Ravenous Dark. The queer representation alone makes it worthy of picking up. A little creepy and violent for my normal tastes, but somehow I still couldn't put it down.
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A wonderfully dark, incredibly LGBTQ+ inclusive novel that confused me at first with what was going on, but when I got into it I really got into it. Also, absolutely love to see poly-amorous representation.
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In the Ravenous Dark follows Rovan, whose father died while trying to protect her from her fate of being controlled as a magic-wielder. After accidentally exposing her powers, she’s sent into a world of deception. In her plans to escape, she falls for Lydea and Ivrilios, two people she can’t trust. But together, they discover a secret that will destroy Thanopolis, and the three must gain each other’s trust in order to save them all.

I’m quite a fan of dark fantasy novels, so books like In the Ravenous Dark always catch my interest. It features many unique aspects in its storytelling, and while I enjoyed this book overall, it’s certainly proved a difficult one to review! There were several aspects of this book that I enjoyed, but in the same breath, there are ways this story could have been executed that would have held my attention so much more.

To start, I really liked the worldbuilding throughout this book. Once Rovan is in the process of discovering her powers as a magic-wielder, we see just how in-depth this world is in terms of how magic is controlled and the lineages behind them. I really liked how the book continually builds on this information as the story progresses, and even though most of it is taught via explaining it to Rovan, I feel like it gave the story so much depth.

I really liked the characters as well. Rovan in particular was a really well-balanced character. For someone that is settling into her powers, her character demonstrates that growth so well. I tend to not be a fan of characters who are new to their powers and skillset and show perfection on day one, so I thought In the Ravenous Dark portrayed this really well.

Additionally, I (for the most part) liked the relationships and representation behind them in In the Ravenous Dark. This book features a polyamorous relationship, which is something I’ve yet to come across in many books. There was one part of this relationship where I found there to be a big power imbalance which I wasn’t much of a fan of. But overall, I thought the relationships between these characters were represented so well.

I think what I would have liked to see more of in In the Ravenous Dark comes more to personal preference than anything. Earlier, I mentioned how much explaining is done in this book to create worldbuilding. Personally, I also like that to mix with personal discovery and descriptions of scenery and the like, which helps me fall into a book’s setting a bit better. There were some really cool scenes in this book as well (i.e. ballroom scenes), but when books focus more on dialogue I find it harder to settle into the book. But, if flowery, descriptive writing annoys you, In the Ravenous Dark would be a better pick.

All in all, In the Ravenous Dark was a very unique dark fantasy with great representation – there were just a few things I would have preferred in terms of execution! I’d tend to recommend this more towards those who enjoy dark fantasy with romance. Just be wary of content warnings going in for darker themes and violence/gore/blood.
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From almost the first page, I knew I was going to love this book. The characters are interesting, and intriguing, and fun to read about. The writing is engaging and snappy, and the plot has great pace. And the world building - oh my god, the world building. Strickland's world is absolutely incredible. Based off Ancient Greece/Rome, the magic is expertly woven through, and I would give a lot to be able to spend some time here.
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AM Strickland is new to me but dear god am I happy that I know her! This book will be absolutely amazing when it releases! Others are going to love this bloody, queer read!
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What a wonderful debut novel! I loved this book. The writing wasn't absolutely perfect, but the setting, the characters, the plot were. Rovan is a pansexual bloodmage hiding her magic from her government, but an accident with her lover causes her powers to be outed and her and her loved ones to be captured.Upon arriving to the city she finds out a few things, the first: her father isn't dead and the second: she doesn't have many days before she is tied to the undead spirit of a former prince and used as a broodmare for her kingdom and her powers. So much happens here in this story, but it's nice to see some representation. One can hope that Strickland continues to write books, grow in her skills, and create even more characters that are kick butt and representative.
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Thank you Netgalley for this Arc! ❤

In the Ravenous Dark by A. M. Strickland  is an intense and dark story full of dangerous magic and romance.  
Rovan lives in Thanopolis with her mother and has been hiding that she is a blood mage her whole life.  However,  all of that changes one day at the market place when Rovan's current lover is in danger and she uses blood magic to save her.  The story continues with Rovan becoming a member of the life at the palace and mixing with royals while learning more about what exactly being a blood mage in Thanopolis entails.   
One of my favorite aspects to this book was the way A.M. Strickland wrote about  gender and sexuality.  I love how Rovan and her friends were able to talk about this and be who they truly are, at least around each other.  

Get ready for a fast paced and action packed story full of magic and love!
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