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

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove

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A lush, exquisite fantasy with political intrigue, betrayal, a snarky swordswoman, and a broody monk. Monsters lurk in the forests, but the true evil is what lies beneath a human's intentions. I absolutely devoured this book and the amazing characters. Katyani and Daksh have my heart, I love this story so much!

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I had some trouble writing this review. I was t in love with this book, but it definitely became a much better read in the last 40% or so.

I am a big fan of YA fantasy and magic, I was really looking forward to this, but it was slow in the beginning and I came close to giving up on it. The world building was a bit slow. It ended up being good, and the author did a wonderful job of describing the mythology and the monsters. The character development was decent, but definitely could have been better and I would have liked to see a bit more growth in the MC. Finally, the writing style read younger than the intended audience.

Overall it ended up being a good book.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for an eARC copy of this novel!

I wanted to love this one and I liked it, but after I finished it, I wasn't sad it was over. That's how I can normally tell I've read what constitutes a 4 or 5 star book for me. In those cases, I miss the characters as though they were actual people and long to check in to see what they've been up to.

Our fmc is Katya, a Guards-woman to the royal family of Chendala and magically bonded to the Queen since she was a young child following the death of her parents. The bond allows her to sense the queens whereabouts, feelings and if she is in danger, but only when in near proximity. So, when Katya and the Crown Prince and his cousin travel deep into a forest known for may horrifying Monsters, Katya can no longer sense the bond. They arrive at a sacred compound and where they are to be taught how to banish monsters, amongst other things.
Katya starts a flirtation with one of the Master's sons. Not much happens with this - a bit of build up to no real reward. Then there's a lot of back and forth from the forest to the Kingdom where the royal family is all murdered, save for the cousin. Katya is accused of organizing as a result of her being a lost princess from another kingdom.

I could summarize a lot more, but there's a lot of details to keep track of and in this case, I feel like that actually detracted from the story. Katya doesn't really form any attachments or relationships that you feel invested in. I did not like the whiny, childish behavior she exhibits, especially in the beginning when the trio first arrives at the compound. I think she does experience some growth over the course of her story, but not enough for me to warm up to her. As I hinted at, the 'romance' subplot was pretty non-existent. There was some tension and buildup, but in the end, we really don't get much in the way of a payoff.

The main thing I really enjoyed was the Monsters and their descriptions. I thought they were fascinating and would have liked further information relating to their background and lore.

All in all, just an ok read for me. 2.5 starts, but rounding up to 3.

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Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove
by Rati Mehrotra
YA Fantasy
ARC NetGalley

Katyani, linked to the Queen in order to save her life while a child became almost like family to the royals, but her main duty was to guard them with her life.

Even though there were assassination attempts on the king and queen, they still sent the two princes and Katyani to a school in order to learn less violent ways of diplomacy. Almost done with the schooling and they were called back, and then some major stuff happens.

Even though there's a lot of violence, the writing made it feel as if it's intended for kids under 13. “We did this, and then we did that, and then that happened.” Not a lot of in-depth descriptions, most things were brushed over. I was about ready to give up at 24%. I decided to give it another 10, and the plot took an interesting turn for the better, but the writing still didn't. Though I had the who, what, when, why, and the hows pretty much figured out by the halfway mark.

The idea was good, the setting and monsters were a little different than others in this type of story. Overall it was an ok of a story. A little more 'dressing up' of the descriptions would take this book to the next level.

2 Stars

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Disclaimers: I received a review copy of this book via the author's publicist and Netgalley, having become aware of it because the author is on the same writers' forum as me.

I greatly enjoyed the medieval Indian fantasy setting as a change from a medieval European fantasy setting, and (given that I have almost no prior knowledge) the setting felt well-researched without becoming the focus. There's a glossary at the back, but my Kindle's dictionary and Wikipedia between them adequately explained to me what the various foods, trees, items of clothing, and supernatural beings were, so I was able to follow the story and get a feel for what things looked like with minimal disruption to the flow. This isn't always the case with settings that are unfamiliar to me.

The plot took a stronger turn for the tragic than I was anticipating about a quarter of the way through (not that the blurb didn't warn me), and the protagonist had a really bad time of it. However, she persevered with courage, intelligence and resourcefulness, and made good use of her allies, all of which is what I look for in a protagonist.

I did struggle a little with suspension of disbelief about a couple of the key plot elements. The protagonist is betrayed, and to me, it was difficult to believe that the people who betrayed her could have concealed their treachery so effectively for so long. <spoiler>One had a psychic bond to her that enabled her to share in their feelings, and the other had grown up with her from the age of three. </spoiler> However, everything else in the plot was well justified, including the romance (both people involved were actually admirable).

The adventure portions, which took the main focus, were varied, well handled and suspenseful, with action scenes that meant something and weren't just there for their own sake. The minor characters I found a little difficult to keep straight sometimes, since they're not strongly individual, but the major characters acted believably and developed over the course of the book.

All in all, sound and solid. I enjoyed it, and will look for other books by this author.

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I've realised that stories that follow court manoeuvring and political schemes aren't my favourite, unless there is some sort of mythology/fantasy element to them. I really enjoyed how the magical history of this world plays out across the kingdoms, the forests, the far off places and all of the various humans and monsters living within it. I also think the characters are a real high point to the novel - they all feel like they fit and have a purpose.

The only reason this isn't getting 5 stars is because I actually wanted more of the romance. There is just soooo much setting up and tension and teasing that results in such lukewarm follow through. It's like the author was doing everything to set the reader up for something good, just to draw back and not deliver at the last minute. It left me feeling a little unsatisfied in the end.. But readers who don't mind mild "slow burns" should be okay with how the romance plays out.

But my personal preferences honestly can't take away how commendable this story is. It's an amazing adventure filled with heroes and enemies, first loves and betrayals, and gorgeous mythology!

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Katyani has been bound to the Queen of Chandela since she was a small child. She is tasked with playing bodyguard and escort to the Chandela princes as they attend a monastic school set in a forest surrounded by monsters. However, Katyani and the Princes are summoned urgently back to Chandela and tragedy strikes, leaving Katyani to question her place in Chandela.

If I’m being honest, the first 40% of the book I kind of questioned what the real overarching conflict and narrative was. The characters at first were fairly flat and hadn’t enamored me to the story. I wanted Katyani to succeed by virtue of the consistent injustices done to her but not because of anything about her or her actions.

The story does pick up at the midway mark and from thereon I did enjoy it. The reason for the slow start kind of became apparent based on all the things the book was trying to set up. Thereafter events become constant and Katyani’s situation is constantly evolving.

The world in which this takes place is definitely interesting however I would have liked to see more explanation. I’m not entirely sure where soul magic comes from or how one comes to possess more of it than someone else. The glossary at the back of the book was definitely a nice addition to explain some terms and mythology.

At first, the romance was a bit obvious and felt forced, particularly when Katyani remarks when Daksh first looks at her it was like he was seeing her soul. By the end, I found the aspects of it to be kind of endearing because neither one of them had any romantic experience and Daksh in particular was out of his depth.

I think this book in particular will appeal to anyone who enjoys a fantasy story which infuses elements of Indian culture, contains a strong female heroine and explores topics of conflict, family and prejudices.

Thank you to NetGalley and Wednesday Books for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was amazing.
It’s been a while since I’ve read a book that was not predictable.
Yes this has a lot of typical tropes, but the way the author executes them really made them feel original and unique. I absolutely loved the story. It was a bit long but every page was important to the full plot of the story. I love the culture that is influenced into the story. I would absolutely love to see a sequel or at least a mini sequel to see what happens with a few characters. I normally hate stories where characters die. This author does kill off some characters. Which shocked me and made me sad. I felt their deaths really heighten the stakes of the plot. Even though I was sad I would not change anything the author had written.
I look forward to reading more stories by this author.

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I absolutely loved this book! It was so interesting and full of plot twists that I love. I was never bored throughout this book and the author did a great job creating interesting and unique characters. This is a book that I will reread over again and again. Great book!

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A past forgotten to magic and a present filled with service based on what she’d been told is undermined by a few words, driving a woman to discover the truth in Rati Mehrotra’s Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove.

After being saved by the Queen of Chandela as a young, orphaned child through a forbidden soul bonding, Katyani has since grown up alongside the royal family and poised to serve a role as an advisor and protector for the crown prince, Ayan, when he ascends the throne. There have been a series of assassination attempts on the royal family, which is perplexing as the Garuda have been repeatedly unsuccessful in uncovering the mastermind; Katyani would prefer to stay with the Queen and solve the plot against the royal family but is ordered to accompany Ayan and his cousin Bhairav as their bodyguard on their intellectual and spiritual venture to the gurukul of Acharya Mahavir to hone the skills for their future as kingdom leaders. Secluded in a strict monastic school, Katyani struggles to adhere to all the strange rules, especially when Daksh, the Acharya’s youngest son, repeatedly reminds her of the rules with pointed gazes her way. Suddenly summoned back to Chandela before completing their training, tragedy strikes the royal family, and Katyani, leaving her betrayed and suddenly alone, questioning her entire life and in search of answers from her missing past to forge a future all her own.

With political intrigue and betrayal, magic, and monsters set in an India-inspired medieval setting, the narrative includes a vast array of social commentary it addresses while taking readers on a fantastic adventure. I appreciate that this story is a standalone that builds a world and details characters rapidly and ties the narrative threads together quite well, but the world with the magic system and various entities would be fascinating to see explored in greater detail; the glossary at the end of the novel was helpful to provide greater clarity regarding the monsters of lore, name honorifics, and frequently used terms throughout the text that may be unfamiliar to readers. The dynamic and banter between Katyani and Daksh offered a satisfying tension and was entertaining despite being familiar and easily predictable. The pacing at the outset was slower as it introduced the world and characters but picked up quickly after initial establishment, beginning a fast-paced journey that readers can easily be swept up in.

Overall, I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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