For Ryhalt Galharrow, working for Crowfoot as a Blackwing captain is about as bad as it gets – especially when his orders are garbled, or incoherent, or impossible to carry out.
The Deep Kings are hurling fire from the sky, a ghost in the light known only as the Bright Lady had begun to manifest across the city, and the cult that worships her grasps for power while the city burns around them.
Galharrow may not be able to do much about the cult – or about strange orders from the Nameless – but when Crowfoot’s arcane vault is breached and an object of terrible power is stolen, he’s propelled into a race against time to recover it. Only, to do that, he needs some answers, and finding them means travelling into nightmare: to the very heart of the Misery. . .
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
*Potential for spoilers.*
After the events involving Nall’s Engine within Blackwing, Ravencry sees us move forward four years with Ryhalt and the Blackwing in a position far better than what they had previously. They have their own office, they have a glorified secretary that does everything for them, and they hold some status within the city. However, when an item of great power and importance is stolen from Crowfoot, Ryhalt must make it his mission to retrieve the item or face the creation of a power far greater than any previously imagined. Alongside this, he must live with the notion that those he once loved and lost, may still, and will, have a hold on him.
When the e-mail to review this novel popped into my inbox I was sat in my house with Mary from Ramblings of a Writer. As soon as I mentioned the subject line of the e-mail, we both just seemed to look at each other and we both knew what the other was thinking – we need this book! We had both thoroughly enjoyed Blackwing and were eagerly awaiting the opportunity to immerse ourselves back into the world McDonald had built, and to see where our characters were after the Blackwing ending.
And McDonald did not disappoint. A slow beginning eases you back into the world as you’re reminded of the life debt Ryhalt commits to with Crowfoot, and the adventures Ryhalt and his crew had within the first novel. We’re reminded of characters that had only just entered the scene, and begin to see what part they will be playing as Ryhalt embarks upon these new adventures, and how they may help or hinder him. After all the introductions, you’re submerged once again and things head full throttle from there.
There is always that fear, like with a film, that the second in the series – and subsequently every one after – will not live up to the expectations of the first. However, Ravencry delivers. Not only is it easy to slip back into the Blackwing team as if you had only seen them yesterday, but McDonald brings even more to the table with new and exciting villains and powers, a more in-depth look into the Misery that we only briefly began to understand about in Blackwing, and characters that have clearly developed during those unmentioned four years.
In my review of Blackwing (take a look!), I described Ryhalt as being “a man with many wounds, both old and new, that he believes he has closed over but ultimately end up reopening as events progress.” There is still no better way to describe Ryhalt as the wound freshly created at the end of Blackwing is forced wide open with no room to heal thanks to the superstitious beliefs of those around him regarding the Bright Lady. However, Ryhalt uses these wounds to help spur him on and get to his end goal instead of wallowing in self-pity and alcohol (though he still does much of this!). It is clear that Ryhalt has developed exponentially since the first novel as he finds himself held accountable for a young girl who reminds him daily of his inability to be a husband and father earlier in his life. It is as if he has been given a second chance, and you can see how he feels about the situation as the novel progresses and he grows with it. He knows what he should or shouldn’t be saying to this young girl to build up her hopes and dreams but, as with any Father, he cannot help but assuage her.
McDonald ends the novel with words that leave a feeling of despair within the pit of your stomach. What is Ryhalt about to get himself in to, and has he been tainted by the events of Ravencry? I’m looking forward to finding out how Ryhalt continues his journey, and whether certain relationships will be developed or all but destroyed.