In the Ravenous Dark – A.M. Strickland

I might already be rereading this book and it’s not even released yet. This was one of my most anticipated YA novels on my list of 2021 releases – it’s dark, it’s queer and it’s edgy in the best possible sense. It also has mythology vibes to it which you might have noticed I’m really into. And it has one of my favourite covers of the year – which looks even better in physical than I thought! (Spot gloss for the win)

Massive thanks to Kate Keehan at Hodder for sending me a review copy. All opinions are my own.

RELEASE DATE: 18/05/2021

STAR RATING: 4/5 ✶

SUMMARY: In Thanopolis, magic is rare – and closely controlled. Those blessed – or cursed – with power are kept under constant guard, assigned to undead spirits who watch their every move.

Ever since her father died to save her from this fate, Rovan has kept her magic a closely guarded secret – until an accident exposes her powers for the world to see, and her tenuous freedom comes crashing to an end.

Brought to the royal palace against her will, and thrust into a maelstrom of intrigue and deception, Rovan is drawn to two people she cannot fully trust: Lydea, a beguiling and rebellious princess struggling against her own destiny, and Ivrilos, the handsome, powerful spirit she has been bound to, who can control Rovan, body and soul.

Together, they uncover a terrible secret that could destroy everyone in Thanopolis – the living and the dead. To save them, Rovan will have to start a rebellion in both the mortal world and the underworld, and find a way to trust the princess and the undead spirit vying for her heart – if she doesn’t betray them first . . . (from Hodder & Stoughton)

OPINIONS: I love this book. A pansexual bloodmage gets pulled into a supernatural conspiracy and fights the patriarchy? Yes please. While I was super excited for this I was a bit worried that it would be too edgy and over the top (I recently got burned that way), but this balances that fine line perfectly. There is technically a love triangle in the sense that Rovan is interested in two different people, but when it comes to love and relationships, the main sentiment in this book is acceptance. Acceptance of who the other person is, what they might want and a huge step away from what society might think right. That’s not to say that there isn’t a lot of toxicity in this story, but it doesn’t come from the characters at its centre.

There is an intricate system of magic in the world of this story, with bloodmages – who carry bloodlines handed down through the generations, and death magic. There are also ghosts, introduced as protectors of the bloodmages but revealed to be far more than that. There is politics and plotting too. In short, In the Ravenous Dark contains all of the elements necessary for a strong story. And – as I was discussing books as metal bands with a friend recently – this was my suggestion for a book that matched the atmosphere of Black Sabbath. A bit classic, a bit edgy, going into goth territory but ultimately groovy and comforting.

If you too want to dive into the world of In the Ravenous Dark, you can add it to your Goodreads here and preorder a copy from Bookshop here (affiliate link).

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