Cover Image: Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove

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As the last book I requested from Wednesday Books, I can happily say that Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove is one of the best I’ve read from the imprint.  Mehrotra takes medieval India, a culture that I haven’t been introduced to in fantasy books, YA or otherwise, and crafts an interesting world with plenty of lore, magic, monsters, food, politics, and tons more.

They also adjusted the age range on Amazon to 14-18. which is a small but awesome step.  The book has a few mature themes involving violence and gore, but overall I’m impressed with Mehrotra and her willingness to keep everything in the book age appropriate for the teen reading experience.  That all said, I’m willingly reviewing this one with no issues between me and the book

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out how.  I loved how connected to ancestry and rites the culture is.

So let’s wrap this up by tying it all together: you get a YA fantasy set in an alternate medieval India, packed full of plotting, magic, intrigue, culture, worldbuilding, and just tons more.  The characters are ones that I personally enjoyed which went a long way towards my overall enjoyment, since usually I can’t be bothered to focus on YA characters.  The main themes involve the changing face of home, the various forms of monsters, adapting to other’s cultures, and learning to find your own way in the world.
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I really thought this book would have more romance in it. Sadly folks, if you want fantasy with romance, it will be used sparingly and the great confession will be at the (COUGH COUGH) last chapter of the book. So, you could just skip to the end and-

Just kidding. 

But seriously, I did enjoy reading this book and it was a relatively quick read, with a somewhat convoluted rivalry between tribes and an interesting magic/worldbuilding that was done. It does have the adventures, the monsters, the magic and all the elements of fantasy we enjoy in a medieval version of India. Now, onto the madness.

Short Summary: A reluctant guardswoman is forced to babysit two brothers as they journey to a new land and a tragedy befalls where it places her as a pawn and where she discovers the two brothers she was raised to protect who may have conflicts and secrets of their own.

Longer summary? Katyani doesn't want to leave Chandela. In doing so, she must protect the two princes from getting killed by enemy tribes as war is looming over them. But, when a tragedy threatens to destroy her land and the brothers turns against each other, Katyani is forced to choose between the duty to the two brothers, the duty to her people, and the choice of somehow finding happiness in Daksh, the young man who she can't resist and who may have secrets of his own. The fight for the crown begins and as betrayals occur and death threatens those closest to her, Katyani must risk it all and use everything she can to save those she cares about before it's too late.

If you've read The Tiger at Midnight, the plots are somewhat similar in this case with magical bonds between people where thoughts and emotions flow hand in hand and where there is adventure and political intrigue, there is a lot of rival clans and spiritual folks who have big secrets and crazy rules about the magic of their land but the romance between Katyani and Daksh is sprinkled throughout the story and it ends up being a somewhat lukewarm romance between the two.

So, that is where the similarities between this book and The Tiger at Midnight end. It is a quick read and while it isn't clear if there will be another book or if this will just be a standalone, I think this is a good ending spot. That last chapter was unreasonably long for my taste and the ending was a bit sloppy, but it was an interesting read.

Overall: 4/5 stars
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Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra, 352 pages. Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press), 2022. $19.
Language: PG13 (17 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13
BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE
AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH
Adopted by the royal family when she was young, Katyani (18yo) has grown up alongside the princes. She is both sister and bodyguard, preparing to be Prince Ayan’s advisor someday. When the princes are sent to gurukul to increase their spiritual power, the queen insists that Katyani accompany them. When Katyani returns home, nothing will be the same.
Every time I thought I knew where the story was going during the first half of the book, Mehrotra pivoted the story – the surprise kept me wanting to know where we would go next. The teachers in the book focus on spiritual power and ethics, and then Mehrotra throws Katyani into a series of trials. Readers must navigate the gray spaces between right and wrong with Katyani, wanting to win the right way for the right reasons.
Katyani is described as having “tawny brown” skin, and Ayan and Bhairav are described as having “bronze” skin. They and everyone else are implied Indian. The mature content rating is for innuendo and nudity. The violence rating is for sword use, persistent murder and war, and blood and gore.
Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen
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I have very mixed feelings about this book. I wanted to love Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove. It had so much that I want and enjoy in fantasy novels--a strong female protagonist, diverse world-building, unique monsters, a stand-alone story. But in the end, I was pretty underwhelmed. It read as a very standard YA fantasy read, except for the fact that it had a slower beginning than most I've read. And I don't mind slow beginnings, when the character development is strong, but I wasn't particularly invested in Katyani's. 
There's also a lot of telling in this book--the prose is generally focused on showing Katyani and how strong she was, with little, except for some fighting scenes, to show why she'd be a good leader. That being said, I enjoyed her personality and wished it were expanded on more, as it's what eventually drove the plot forward into one that was fast-paced. 
I will say that I appreciated the setting, and the monsters were incredibly unique and I loved reading about them. While I was a bit underwhelmed, I honestly wish there was a bit more to this story so I could read more about the location and lore.
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NIGHT OF THE RAVEN, DAWN OF THE DOVE has it all: juicy Secrets, twisty reversals, creepy monsters, and plenty of political intrigue. Katyani is a bodyguard for the queen--and magically bound to her from the time she was a baby and the queen saved her life. Katyani's has returned the favor with fierce loyalty. She is skillful, smart, and opinionated--until one deadly night when she learns that everything she's been told about her life is a lie. There's so much going on here & there's never a dull moment. I especially enjoyed the different monsters and how they are not all as monstrous as they seem, and the prickly romance with Daksh. If you love great world-building & fast-paced South Asian fantasy, this is it! Hope you'll check it out!
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2.5 stars 

This book sounded like it would be perfect for me but it was just a bit too slow. I liked the plot and the characters but I wish it had been a bit faster-paced. I didn't want to DNF so I pushed myself to finish it. I might give this author another chance in the future but this book wasn't for me.
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I loved this book.  Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove is a wonderfully rich young adult fantasy set in a world inspired by medieval India.  Our heroine Katyani is a guardswoman tied by a soul bond to the queen of Chandela, who saved her life as a child.  The queen orders her to accompany Chandela’s princes to attend a monastic school in the middle of a forest full of monsters.

Katya is one of my new favourite YA fantasy characters.  She’s smart, strong, and snarky, she shows fear and doubt, and she has a kind heart.  Her growth is the centre of the novel: she knows very little about her own history and this is her first time outside of the queen’s influence.  She also has a nice slow burn romance with a young monk, Daksh, that’s full of wit and heart.  The other side characters each have depth and their own agenda.

I wasn’t expecting the awesome monster content in this book.  One of my favourite things in speculative fiction is a good monster.  While Night of the Raven is not a scary book, Katya’s world is full of monsters from horror stories: ghosts, giants, blood drinkers and soul suckers.  They’re rarely purely evil and a lot of Katya’s character growth involves figuring out who to trust or fear.

The magic system is based on Hindu spirituality, and I loved the way magic, religion, and philosophy interacted in this book.  It felt rich and thoughtful and lent an authenticity to the world and depth to the character interactions.

This book has so much heart and soul, and goes in directions I didn’t expect at all.  It’s definitely making my top 10 YA fantasies of 2022.

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for my review copy of this book.
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This book sounded like my type of read. The premise was so intriguing, but I could not get into the story much at all. It was just a bit slow-paced for me. Thanks for the chance to read this NetGalley!
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I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This was a DNF for me before the halfway mark. I wanted to love the setting, but found this to be a very plug-and-play YA fantasy with characters I've met before.
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Sometimes when you read a book it’s nothing like what you’re expecting - this is exactly that kind of book. After reading the synopsis, I expected one thing and the book gave me so much more. 
The world building was beautiful. The descriptions allow the reader to be completely immersed in the story. The characters are well developed through the book, a feat unto itself considering this is a standalone fantasy novel. It was quite refreshing to read this book, knowing that I wouldn’t have to commit to a trilogy, but I was also a bit worried because - how do you build a new world, characters and story in only one book? In my opinion, the author did this with great success.
I loved the characters. Katyani is fierce and loyal and Daksh is a swoony magical warrior - he never even breaks a sweat. 
The magic system is really cool, even the dark forbidden stuff. All of this also plays into the court politics that are a major plot point - probably the biggest driving force of everything that happens in the story; however, it doesn’t take over. The characters are such an important part and I loved them all. I really liked everything about this story.
Thank you to NetGalley and the published for providing me with a digital copy of the book. These are my own honest opinions of the book.
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Holy hell, this book was absolutely amazing. The writing sucked me in from the first page. This has such a strong, well rounded cast of characters and such an interesting premise. The author did a great job at weaving together the story! Loved it!
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Action packed fantasy with many twists & turns!
I loved this book! Fantasy set in a medieval India inspired world with monsters and magic. There is palace intrigue, unique monsters & magic, action, and an engaging enemies-to-lovers romance. I couldn't put it down!
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This book had such an intriguing premise but failed in execution. The problem is that no part of this book is fully fleshed out. The characters are all one-dimensional, which made it hard to care about what was happening to them. We are always being told and not shown how Katyani is feeling. I got whiplash from how quickly her mood would shift with no explanation as to why. The world-building was sparse at best; there were no elements that made it stand out in any way from our world, except for the few monsters thrown in.

The magic system was not set up, at all. It made no sense and was never truly explained. "Spiritual power" is a big component in this book, but it was never explained what it was. Certain rituals were used to dispel certain monsters, and there were such things as magical bonds, but it all was at random and thrown in to help the story along. No clear guidelines dictate what can happen in this world, and unfortunately, the author used this.

The plot had potential, but at pivotal moments the author chose the easy way out or went with a plot line that we have seen too many times in fantasy books. If the other elements of this book had been stronger, I think this book would have been so much better.
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I was intrigued by the premise here, but the writing was very basic and anachronistic to the time period it was loosely trying to emulate and that made it a difficult read for me. I think some people will love this book, unfortunately that will not be me.
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(Thank you NetGalley and Wednesday Books for the eARC in exchange for an honest review.)

An action-packed, young-adult, fantasy containing a strong female lead.  (Which we need more of)

Katyani, who happens to be a guardswoman, has the job to protect the royal family in India.  She accompanies the princes to training at "the gurukul", where they continue to fight "monsters".  Even though the are not fully trained, the princes and Katyani must return home to Chandela.  

With "monsters". you are guaranteed to enjoy the adventures.
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Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove follows Katyani, who is the head of the royal guard of Chandela and has a soul bond with the queen. With the exception of some assassination attempts on the king and queen and the fact that Katyani is being sent to the gurukul -- a remote school similar to a monastery -- in order to keep an eye on the two princes, Ayan and Bhairav, Katyani thinks she knows where her life is going. This is definitely a book I'd recommend going into not knowing much about the plot in order to fully enjoy the ride.

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove was a mixed experience for me. The setting is full of magic and monsters, which were very interesting but not really explained at all. I don't need hand-holding in my world-building but more explanations of what things looked like and/or how Katyani experienced them would have made the reading experience more immersive.

I also found the character development of the main characters, particularly Katyani, underwhelming. The prose does a lot of telling, not showing. A big example of this is that we're told over and over Katyani is the best guardswoman in Chandela, which is why she heads the royal guard. We see Katyani do well in a fight but not have any other skills that would explain why a teenager is leading the royal guard over adults who have fought in war. I kept hoping for more character development because I really wanted to root for Katyani. She's a determined person who is always trying to make the best of a terrible situation. Her grit was my favorite thing about her and definitely kept the story moving forward at a brisk pace.

My favorite thing about Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove was the pacing. After a somewhat slow start while the reader gets to know the characters a bit, the book is very fast paced. There's lots of political machinations and action scenes that kept me wanting to know what happened next. I also appreciated that there were some well-done pauses in the story that gave the characters time to process and react to what was happening rather than having them run from crisis to crisis.

Thank you to Wednesday Books and Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove centers around Katyani, the adoptive daughter, bondswoman, and royal guard of the Queen of Chandela. Her future has never been in doubt: she will be her adoptive brother's most trusted advisor when he becomes king. Attending to Ayan and his cousin Bhairav, Katyani is shipped off to a monastic school of a famous guru where they will hone the skills needed to be the next leaders of the kingdom (including magic and mosnter hunting). Nothing could annoy Katyani more than leaving court and being shipped off to a rule-abiding school in the middle of a forest, except her run-ins with Daksh, the guru’s son, who can’t stop going on about the rules and whose gaze makes her feel like he can see into her soul. (Yes there is a slow-burn romance!)

But when Katyani and the princes are hurriedly summoned back to Chandela before their training is complete, tragedy strikes and Katyani is torn from the only life she has ever known. Alone and betrayed in a land infested by monsters, Katyani must find answers from her past to save all she loves and forge her own destiny. Bonds can be broken, but debts must be repaid.

This book is a fantastic standalone fantasy, set in medieval India. It will suck you in with Katyani's fun yet brash personality and with a fast-paced plot full of with magic, Indian mythology, and court intrigue! Katyani's dedication to her promises, and her loyalty to her friends and family created a loveable heroine who uses more than just her brute strength when in the face of danger. The slow-burn romance could have used a bigger pay-off which is what knocked this down a star for me, but the world-building was well fleshed out and Katyani's struggle for her identity and sense of home really made this book stand out.
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Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the eArc!  This book reads like an epic fantasy with elaborate world building.  The monsters were so fascinating, especially those more morally or "humanly" inclined.  I could have read a book on them alone!  The political scheming kept me intrigued and our main protagonist Katyani impressed me and her storyline really kept me captivated.  Lots of bravery and heartbreak and a little bit of my favorite - found family. 

Unfortunately there were two things that fell flat for me.  The romance and the betrayal(s).  I just couldn't buy it even though I liked Daksh's character and the slow burn parts.  And the other - well I don't want to spoil, so read away!  I would say 3.5 stars, rounding up for this review.
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Thank you NetGalley, Wednesday Books, and Rati Mehrotra for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review! This is a really fun fantasy book that’s well-developed and full of unique characters. It has action as well as politics and more. I really enjoyed that it’s set in a version of medieval India and I found this to be a really interesting setting! The politics were amazing in the book and the pacing was good. However, some of the characters were a bit odd at times, and the romance was a little weird However, this is still a really strong YA fantasy novel and I recommend it!
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This is such a brilliantly thought-out fantasy romance.   The Author did not miss out on any detail pertaining to the world building, the characters and different plot twists.
This book captivates you with the world building, transporting you to a new land you can imagine in your mind.  You become so caught up in story line and characters you almost don't see the plot twists and turns.  The romance aspect is beautiful.  It is just there under the surface of the story line.  The bond and friendship between Katya and Daaksh is amazing and it is nice for a romance to not but the main focus of the story. 

The only issue I had with the book is the slow start.  It was almost a DNF book for me, but I had such high hopes for this story I, thankfully, kept on reading.  

Thank you Netgalley for this ARC.
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