Rovan is a 19 year old bloodmage in hiding, doing what she can to avoid the kingdom’s other bloodmages who have been assigned undead spirits as guardians. It’s a way for the king to control them and their power, and Rovan is determined to remain unknown to the king and therefore also unguarded.
But when her lover and friend Bethea has an accident, Rovan uses her bloodmagic to save her life, exposing herself as a bloodmage. She’s instantly brought to the palace by the king’s men and is assigned a guardian of her own. Desperate to escape, she befriends some unlikely people in the palace and together they uncover secrets that will change everything and destroy their kingdom.
In the Ravenous Dark is an interesting read. It’s full of queer representation in a way that doesn’t focus on the queer experience, but it’s treated as any romance subplot, the romance just happens to be f/f, m/f/f etc. And there’s also representation of nonbinary and asexual characters in the book, which is another thing I really like about it.
So, the queer rep here is prominent, it’s a big part of the book the way they discuss their sexuality and gender identity within the group and how they are so open about it. However, (and I hate to put a however here), the thing is that even though I love the representation here and how they talk about it, they do it a little too much in my opinion. And I’m not saying that because I don’t enjoy their conversations and their thoughts here, it’s because considering their current situation plot-wise, it doesn’t fit in. I really don’t understand how these characters can spend every moment they’re together talking and joking about sex or the lack of thereof and gender and sexuality and all that when everything is falling apart around them, when people are dying, family is dying.
Their conversations flow so natural though, and I wish that things would be as easy in real life. But, like I said, the conversations and the tone of them didn’t feel like they fit into the story and what was happening around the characters at the time.
The plot is great and interesting and the characters are also well developed and fun to follow, and I like that they are funny and share witty banter between each other. But it’s not believable that the first thing that crosses your mind after you, your lover and your mother has been taken captive by murderous maniacs is “wow, that princess is gorgeous, and they too, and oh wow, the undead spirit who’s here to keep me under control is also out of the world beautiful and I just want to f*ck them all”.
Another thing in the same line as the above is the constant mention of how beautiful people are. Rovan constantly tells the reader that everyone is so stunning and gorgeous and beautiful and it gets tiresome. Just show me, don’t tell me. We got from the first moment we saw the princess that Rovan finds her beautiful, we don’t need it repeated a hundred times over. But it’s seemingly all she thinks about when it comes to her friends (and enemies).
As while I’m on the romance here, it’s unfortunately not believable either. These people don’t know each other, and they move way too quickly. There’s no chemistry between them at all, it’s just “wow they are beautiful” and then it goes from “I hate them” to “I love them” without any real chemistry or progress. It all just ended up feeling like Rovan would jump into bed with anyone who she found pretty enough, which in this world was basically everyone except the guy she was to be forced to marry.
There’s no love in this book, it’s all just lust. Which would have been fine had it been called what it was.
And I hate that I don’t like it, because I wanted to like it, because I loved all the LGBTQ+ rep here, but I can’t let a book get away with poor romance just because I love that it’s queer. There still needs to be tension between characters, development in the relationship. I still need to feel the love between them, not just be told that they are beautiful and then suddenly the main character loves them (and they love her back despite her being a selfish asshole).
Now, to the plot. It’s well developed with plenty of twists and turns that make it very interesting. It’s one of those plots that make you want to turn the page and get the answers, and it’s fairly fast-paced and there’s always something happening. Lots of death and gore and blood, and well vampires, sort of.
So, by plot alone, this book is a clear four star read for me, the lack of proper romantic development, however, makes me inclined to bring it down to three stars. But I’m feeling generous today, and compared to other books I’ve recently read, this holds up well and I read it in just a couple of days. So, I’m going to give it 3.5 stars.
Thank you NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book to read.