Book Reviews

Book Review: The Raven Spell

By Luanne G. Smith

Published February 1, 2022

267 pages

The Blackwood sisters, Edwina and Mary, barely earn a living as second-hand merchants in Victorian London.  On their own since their parents left, they scour the shore of the Thames, searching for trinkets to sell. One morning, they find a body and Mary takes his memories, turning them into a shining bauble to add to her collection.  The only problem is – the man isn’t dead.

The sisters have moved from place to place, outcasts even among witches.  They’d hoped that London would offer them the anonymity they sought, but when private investigator Ian Cameron arrives in their shop seeking his lost memories, their days in London are numbered.  Unless Edwina can help him solve the disappearance of a master wizard’s son.  Investigating the case leads them to a string of unsolved murders and possibly to secrets in Edwina’s own family she’d rather leave uncovered.

I’d been waiting for this book to be published and was delighted when it showed up as a January Prime Read.  I jumped on it and pushed it to the top of my TBR pile and it didn’t disappoint.  I love Victorian fiction, possibly because I write it as well, and the historic details were spot on.  Add in a world of witches and wizards living alongside mundanes, and I happily binged the book.

Although I had difficulty getting absorbed in the author’s previous trilogy, that wasn’t the case in this novel.  The mystery and action took off immediately and the pacing never flagged.  The two points of view (Ian and Edwina) worked well for me.  The romance tied into the arcs was believable, as well as Edwina’s blind spots.  I also appreciated the twist in the sister’s powers that wasn’t revealed until the last bit of the book.  All in all, Smith delivered a new magical world that I’m looking forward to reading more of.

I did have one complaint about this novel that kept my rating down slightly.  While I went into this knowing there will be a sequel, my preference is to have most, if not all, of the loose ends tied up at the beginning of the first book.  Obviously, there needs to be a new conflict in the subsequent novels but I’m not a fan of sequel bait.  The hook for the next novel was so obvious that it left this one feeling unfinished.  Personally, I’d rather it be left a surprise.

Regardless, this book checked all of my boxes – great voice, intriguing mystery, imaginative premise, and witches. I rated this book 3.5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐+

On a purely administrative note – I’ve been on a bit of “witch lit” binge lately so if that’s not your cup of tea, no worries.  My reading tastes change like the tides and I’ll be back to a different genre soon.  Also, my reviews on this blog have fallen well behind my reading schedule (I finished this book on January 11), so to try to keep on pace, I’ll be posting every other day in February, or as long as needed to catch up.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

My rating system:

5 stars – Wow, I could not stop thinking about this book and/or I wish I’d writtn it.

4 stars – This was an awesome novel, I’d recommend it to friends.

3 stars – This was a good novel, I will look for more by this author.

2 stars – An okay novel, but I probably won’t look for anything else by the author.

Writing is a process, a journey into memory and the soul.

Isabel Allende

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