Thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and Netgalley for the review copy in exchange for an honest review. This does not change my opinion in anyway.
Book: In the Ravenous Dark by A.M. Strickland
Release Date: May 10th 2021
Tags: Fantasy | Young Adult | Standalone | Bloodmage | Soul Bond | Undead spirits | Queer Characters | Pansexual MC | Nonbinary side character | Asexual side character | Polyarmorous Relationship
Trigger/Content Warnings: Death | Blood | Threats of Rape
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, Rovan 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.
I’d heard much about A.M. Stricklands first book so I was very curious about this next book that had a pansexual mc. It all sounded great with queer characters, blood mages and greek influences. But nowhere did it really grab me.
In the Ravenous Dark we follow Rovan who is gifted with magic. In her lands she is then forced to take on a bond with an undead spirit that will guard and control them. For many this seems like a gift for more power but for Rovan and her family this is punishment. Unfortunately to safe a friend she exposes herself and is swept up into court politics and bound to a spirit.
It has a very interesting kind of plot with the forced bonding to undead spirits in their lands. And that part ended up being decently developed. But the basic reason why she gets forced to bond with them is her magic and I feel like that was not delved into enough. It just didn’t feel like it was a proper part of the whole, more like an afterthought.
The further we went into the story, the more I felt detached. The plot didn’t quite work for me in places. (Like the story around her father or the arranged marriage) There were elements to like but I could never really get into it. It was just a story. I read it. The end. That might be more of a me thing than it was the book.
The great thing about this book though were the queer elements. I didn’t much care for the characters themselves but A.M. Strickland certainly didn’t shy away from adding great queer elements. Rovan is pansexual. She starts a polyarmorous relationship. You don’t find that very often in YA! There is also a nonbinary character and an asexual character. The queerness was casual, as it should be.
All in all In the Ravenous Dark wasn’t my kind of book. But if you enjoy a queer romance with a darker plot with undead spirits this is for you.