Monday, 18 April 2011

Review: Ravenwild

Title: Ravenwild
Author: Peter Plasse
Illustrated: Mike Longenecker 
Published: 2011
Pages: 494
My Rating: 4/5

Returning home from another grueling shift of E.R. work, Dr. Blake Lee Strong comes across a downed motorcyclist and stops to help, but little does he know that his world and that of his family will soon be turned upside down. Duped into being transported to another planet called Inam'Ra, Dr. Strong and his family are thrust into a medieval world populated by Trolls, Gnomes, Elves, Dwarves, Humans and other alien beings. An epic odyssey begins as the Strong family fights for not only their own survival, but also for the continued existence of the citizens of Ravenwild.

Ravenwild is the story of a modern day family suddenly thrust by a not-so-trustworthy wizard into a fantasy world at war, inhabited by Humans, Dwarfs, Elves, Trolls and Gnomes - among other weird and wonderful creatures. The family finds themselves lost and split up in the unpredictable and dangerous world of Inam'Ra, and each must fight to survive in order to be reunited with each other once more.

One of the things I loved most about this book, was the fact that it was a family that we were journeying with. Not just the usual one teenage lead and their love interest. Each member of the family was unique and clever with their own personality and off on their own adventure. There was Blake and Jessica; the determined parents, Stephanie; their teenage daughter who is believed to be vital to the future of Ravenwild, Orie; the teenage son who first travels there with his friends (Ryan and Gracie) and Jacqueline; the youngest daughter who is transported there with her cat, Cinnamon.  I also think that having all these characters better enabled the reader to explore the far reaches of the fantasy world of Inam'Ra.

This book was definitely one of those books that got better and better as it went along. The story starts off with just the Strong family. But as we get farther in and the Strong family are broken up, the branches of the story start to split off into this complex but exciting tale. But it is not only the Strong family that we learn about. We are also introduced many other characters like Jared, the kind and lonely human who lived out in the woods of Ravenwild for years, and also the evil troll Emporer Malance, who cares nothing of the creatures of Ravenwild, and would probably rather have them for dinner!

It was great to see a perspective from not only the 'good' side, but the 'bad' side as well. I also loved that even the enemy species of the book (the Trolls), had a good variety of individuals in them. These ranging from the most evil Emperor to the kind and helpful Daria and Forrester who do everything they can to help the Strong family. I thought it made characters a lot more believable in that sense.

About half way through, the story turns, and we are taken even more in depth into the world and histories of the Trolls and Gnomes. I found it extremely interesting to learn about all these different characters that were so well though-out. There could almost be a separate book alone about the Troll and Gnome civilizations! As interesting as it was to learn about these different aspects of the world, I did find it quite hard to follow at times. There were a lot of characters with a lot of their own situations to learn about, and sometimes I would have to go back and remind myself of who certain people were and what was going on with them.

But this being said, I thought that the characters were one of the strong points of the story. They were so well thought-out and complex with their own traits and histories to them, and I found myself eagerly turning the pages to find out what happens to them. Characters in particular that I liked being; Daria, Uri Gall, Orie and Cinnamon.

The story was brilliantly written, and flowed smoothly from page to page. The descriptions were vivid and colorful, but not too long that they took away from the pace of the book. I found the illustrations spaced throughout the book to be a real treat, especially the wonderfully drawn character sketches that really bring out the personality of the character they represent.

Overall, I really enjoyed Ravenwild. The characters were endearing, even if they did become a bit hard to follow and the writing flowed well. It was a great change to go back to the creative medieval fantasy, with so much of this Urban Fantasy around these days. I really recommend this book. It would especially be a real treat for any fantasy fans!

If you would like to learn more about the upcoming Ravenwild Trilogy, visit here.

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