A review by cyndqls
In the Ravenous Dark, by A.M. Strickland


whooooo boy.

rep wise, this was really great, and i thought the magic and setting, while a bit underdeveloped, were interesting and fun.

i really wanted to like this one, and instead i feel mostly just... meh about it, in part because there were some pacing issues and in part because i wanted to strangle pretty much all of the characters.

in terms of general plot it was pretty standard ya fantasy: main character is a bit of an underdog, gets fucked over by evil king, plans to bring down evil king. the execution of the plot felt very messy and definitely wanted to be at least a duology just for some breathing room and expansion, which i think would have also allowed for better development of character dynamics and relationships, which i found to be one-note and underdeveloped, and i never really bought into the love they had for each other even though i could see that with more room to expand i could see how they'd get there.

my real issue is the characters, who were definitely ya characters in that they were Cool and Edgy and Rich and they were callous in a way that wasn't really all that interesting, just a little irritating? and it was fairly unpleasant to live in rovan's head—she was unlikable and not in the "she's a huge bitch and i love her" way, because many times she just read as drunk and whiny? perhaps this is an ungenerous assessment, but she was deeply frustrating to deal with. the romance was fun but to me almost came out of nowhere, though i'm finding in general i have a strong preference for slow burn unless there is a pre-established relationship dynamic, like childhood friends or ex-lovers or what have you. and while this is actually a general problem i have with ya, i just didn't feel like any of the adults were adults? it felt like they were the same age as the main cast, except a smidgen haughtier.

ultimately i think i wanted this to be an adult duology written in the third person, because i think this would have benefited from the distance that third person provides (see: ivrilos' chapter) and the complexity of adult fantasy. i really thought this one was for me but it fell a bit short; you win some and you lose most, i find, but i do think i have a couple of people i could confidently recommend this to, since many of my issues are personal ones/personal preferences.