Book Review: Ravenswolde by Charity Bishop (5 stars, 2015)
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Having read all of Charity's books, I'm comfortable in my expectations of her talent. Up until this point, my favorite of her stories was [book:The Secret in Belfast|19271147] which adds a new, dynamic twist to the building of and the sail of Titanic. Now, sadly (or maybe happily), my prior favorite has been usurped by Ravenswolde.
What you have here is the intriguing rendering of an assassin's school, placed in the Regency era. The heroine, Elspeth, is a young woman of strong faith who really, really doesn't like the idea of attending such an academy, but her her mother insists upon it, and so to Ravenswolde, Elspeth must go. Trusting anyone is a dangerous idea since all of the students have the ability and urge to regularly shove one another down the stairs or poison the drinking glasses of their peers. It's a deadly and terrifying place to live, made even more so by Lucian Graystoke, the son of Lady Graystoke who runs the school with an iron fist. While Elspeth spends half her time attempting to avoid meeting a gruesome end, the other half she spends desperately attempting to avoid Lucian. He at once draws her and repels her interest. A lone girl of faith with a strange connection to death, Elspeth can either lose herself at Ravenswolde or reanimate her faith in ways she never imagined possible.
Of all Charity's heroines, Elspeth is my favorite. Partially because I find her personal story and her magical gift fascinating, but also because I feel for her, being alone in a strange and scary environment, drawn to a man she knows is dangerous but can't avoid, all while trying to keep her faith strong and relevant. Elspeth is a delight heroine, which is good because Ravenswolde is in the 1st person. As for Lucian, he stands upon the edge of a knife, as Galadriel would say. At times, I hate him, and at other times, I pity him. He is complex, by far one of the most complex male leads crafted by the author, mostly because he is not good, but neither is he wholly evil. Like many of us, Lucian is lost in the in-between, two halves of himself fighting one another, and only Elspeth can help lead him back to the light.
What else can I say? I read Ravenswolde in 3 days flat, hardly wanting to put it down and resenting that I had to go to work. Charity's writing matures and deepens with every book she pens, and I consider this latest novel to be her finest hour, a literary triumph with a strong attention given to tireless editing and correction until the novel is flawless. I loved it and I hope you do as well.