Title- Chasing Ravens
Series- Book # 1
By- Jessica E. Paige
Genre- YA Fairy Tale/Folklore
Orphaned at a young age, 15-year old Anouk’s punishment for being too outspoken is an arranged marriage worse than any she could imagine. Fleeing on horseback, yet without a sense of where to turn, she stumbles upon an idyllic village where she finds safe haven. Could this be home?
Ultimately, it will lead her to confront the very face of death, yet amidst the danger and darkness, she meets a handsome woodsman and finds a glowing blue flower with power beyond her wildest dreams.
Inspired by Russian fairy tales and steeped in ancient folklore, Paige’s novel is ripe with fantasy, love, and courage.
This book is a tough to review and rate. I wanted to like it because it promised the allure of fairy tales and romance which I love. I especially was interested in the Russian fairy tale aspect of it since I don't read too much of them. However, I found the book lacking in several ways.
First, the writing and pacing dragged for almost the entire book. I found myself skimming it to get to the good parts hoping it would get better but it kept a slow pace. I kept checking my location to see how far along in the book I was and if it would get better. I kept checking at almost every 20-30% of the book to see where I stood since I read it on my electronic device and unfortunately it didn't really get too much better.
Also, I'd consider the first 1/3 of it unimportant. There is a flash back at the beginning and I'm not sure helped the reader as it "told" instead of "showed" the reader and I was left wondering, "What was the point of all of this?" I never really did find out and assumed it attempted to show character development or is similar to a Cinderella story. Still I didn't really see the importance of that part of the story.
Additionally, the magical aspects of the story didn't arrive until 2/3rds of the story. Even then the character isn't surprised by the uses of it or the fact that all of a sudden there are talking animals. I honestly think that the story could have started at this point instead of where it began.
Anouk was an all right heroine, she had the qualifications of a heroine but I couldn't connect with her. I found her personality boring. I suppose I prefer heroines with wit or cleverness who are more direct in their feelings or opinions. Anouk did have those moments occasionally but I felt she was more passive than I'd like in a character and dull considering her skills. There were a lot of secondary characters Anouk encountered but they were really all one time uses, meaning that she met them and then they were forgotten. It would have been nice to use fewer characters and make the existing ones more complex.
The romance in this story was thrown in at the end and I think could have been without. I felt no sparks between the characters and felt that it was thrown in at the end as an after thought. I suppose I prefer this love interest over the one I thought it was going to be at the beginning. Still, don't jump into this book thinking there's going to be romance at the beginning, expect it near the end.
The antagonists were decent, I found myself disliking them and I wish that Anouk confronted them more them more openly. Instead she let the leader scold them and wasn't even there to witness it. I felt that a lot of the story was told to Anouk instead of her taking action, it was all told to her by someone else.
At the climax, I didn't feel that the stakes were high enough and that there seemed to be a convenience factor for Anouk. There was always a solution to everything at just the right moment. I would have liked to see her struggle more and overcome the obstacles with her own will instead of relying on others.
Overall, the story is more of an adventure or journey. There are some fantasy and romance, aspects but don't get your hopes up at the beginning but you'll see it in the middle and end. It's a slow start to a slow journey and if you enjoy epic stories then you'll probably like reading this. I like faster paced stories so I wanted the pages to fly instead of dragging. It had a good concept but the execution lacked for me but it's worth the read if you're interested.
2.3 out of 5 rating for me!
(A copy was provided by the publisher for an honest review. I was not compensated in any other way.)
Jessica Paige hails from the Seattle area where she lives with her husband and two dogs. Though she was raised in the Pacific Northwest, Jessica has long been intrigued by the ancient folklore of her Slavic and Lithuanian roots. Her love of horses and the outdoors led her to a career in environmental outreach, and her studies in herbalism. When she’s not working or writing, you’ll find her digging in the garden, creating herbal remedies, or walking in the woods with her dogs. You can visit her at www. jessicaepaige.com.