Published: October 5, 2021
Series: The Raven Rings #2
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 512 (Hardcover)
My Rating: 4.5/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
To protect her homeland of Ym, Hirka left it behind. She traveled through the raven rings, a stone circle that can be used as a portal, to an unfamiliar world. A world without the Might, a world where none of the people have tails, a world that seems rotten at its very core. That world is modern-day Europe.
Hirka was supposed to fit in with humans here. And her departure was supposed to be save Ym from the invasion of the blind. Yet none of that has happened. Instead, Hirka finds herself just as much of an outsider among the humans as she was among ymlings—even more so when she discovers that she has blood of the blind running through her veins. Meanwhile back in Ym, Rime—now the Ravenbearer—is fighting an ongoing battle against the blind, not to mention against his fellow Councilors, as well as with his own despair over losing Hirka.
Separated by worlds, unsure who to trust, and hunted for reasons they cannot understand, both Hirka and Rime must find a way to stop a thousand-year-old evil from destroying not only Ym, but every world in existence.
This series has surprised me once again by not going in the direction that I thought it would and I LOVE IT. While the Raven Rings series might initially sound like it would be standard young adult fare, it is anything but. This review will contain spoilers for The Rot, but also the previous book in the series, Odin’s Child, so proceed with caution!
The book starts off with Hirka adjusting to her strange new life in England. You may recall that at the end of Odin’s Child she travelled through a Raven Ring to her homeworld so the Blind would no longer be able to invade Ym. Hirka has learned some English and has been living in a church thanks to the charity of a priest, helping out with day to day tasks. Unsurprisingly, she’s constantly shocked by this new world she originated from, with the cars whizzing around, cell phones, and the need for identification, credit cards, etc. The only thing she has left is her quickly dwindling supply of herbal remedies and Kuro, the raven, who is getting sicker by the day. Hirka isn’t as safely anonymous as she first assumed – people are after her and she is forced to go on the run with Stefan, a guy who’s been hunting the Blind on Earth.
This is a complicated story with more than one twist that really subverted my expectations. For one, Hirka is Graal’s (the leader of the Blind, and brother to the Seer) daughter and while this initially disturbs her, he turns out to not be a huge monster the way he’s portrayed. Or at least that’s how it seems right now (I am hugely skeptical about this). The Seer himself was trapped inside Kuro and came through the rings with Hirka and he wants vengeance against his brother, so he’s trying to use both Stefan and Hirka to build an army to topple Graal. Hirka’s playing both sides, total double agent sometimes and… geez, there really is a lot going on in this book! It really kept me hooked!
On the flip side, we have Rime’s POV in Ym as well. He’s the Ravenbearer, though the title is all but meaningless after he and Hirka basically toppled an important chunk of Ymish society. I like Rime, but man is he daft sometimes though it makes sense because he’s a measly nineteen years old. He makes some dumb decisions because he’s quite focused on getting Hirka back since he’s madly in love with our flame-haired tailless girl. His POV chapters really kept me uncertain about Graal’s overall goodness because of how he interacted with Graal’s agents and the history with Urd in the previous book.
The plotting of this series is turning out to be far more intricately detailed than I could have expected and I am delighted. I feel like I can’t predict what will happen next because so far I’ve been wrong about so many things! Yes, it is marketed as young adult, but it will definitely appeal to folks who typically only read “adult” fantasy. I can’t wait for the release of the third and final book in the trilogy! I’m hopeful for an early 2022 release of the final book.