Release date: 18th May 2021
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Blurb: A pansexual bloodmage reluctantly teams up with an undead spirit to start a rebellion among the living and the dead.
In Thanopolis, those gifted with magic are assigned undead spirits to guard them—and control them. Ever since Rovan’s father died trying to keep her from this fate, she’s hidden her magic. But when she accidentally reveals her powers, she’s bound to a spirit and thrust into a world of palace intrigue and deception.
Desperate to escape, Rovan finds herself falling for two people she can’t fully trust: Lydea, a beguiling, rebellious princess; and Ivrilos, the handsome spirit with the ability to control Rovan, body and soul.
Together, they uncover a secret that will destroy Thanopolis. To save them all, Rovan will have to start a rebellion in both the mortal world and the underworld and find a way to trust the princess and spirit battling for her heart—if she doesn’t betray them first.
When I say this was amazing and y’all need to read it, I mean Y’ALL NEED TO READ THE DAMN BOOK. The perfect mix of action, adventure, and shippable relationships, this one had me tearing through the pages like it was going to spontaneously combust at any moment. Going in I wasn’t sure what to expect. Lately there’s been A LOT of novels that promise rebellion, revenge, and relationships to die for, but alas so many have fallen short of my exceedingly high expectations. In The Ravenous Dark didn’t pull any punches and it sure as hell didn’t disappoint.
In the first few pages, Strickland sets the scene for a very brutal but super enjoyable ride when Rovan’s father is murdered by the lawmen of the piece for being a rogue agent of the rebellion. Fast forward to the present and Rovan makes a major mistake that pulls the attention of everyone around her by being a mage who is yet to be marked (once a mage’s powers present, they are required by law to be marked ala The Witchlands novels). From there, the whole thing unfolds very quickly when Rovan realise things aren’t as they seem in Thanopolis.
So first off, the magic system is freaking genius. Rovan is a blood mage meaning she can manipulate the blood of anything (including herself) that is living or ever has lived. And while their power manifests early, the majority of it is passed along when the patron of the family passes it on prior to their death in the form of red tattoos of power. As the familial line gets longer and a mage learns new symbols, the overall power of the family grows. If the patron has no heir on to which to pass their power, that line is permanently snuffed out and their symbols potentially lost for all time.
Now we all know I am absolute trash for a good found family novel and this one is just so freaking squish that I fell in love quite early on. And when I say that family runs the gamut of sexual orientation, I truly mean it. There’s so many queer people, it makes up almost the entire cast. There’s a pansexual protagonist, an asexual bestie, a polyamorous relationship at the centre of the narrative and also various w/w and m/m relationships on the fringes. If you love non-hetero relationships, this will surely deliver.
Also, let me just tell you In The Ravenous Dark is super dark and gruesome. Some of the scene are very graphic but it doesn’t feel like it suffers from the ‘violence for no reason’ that many other authors seem to be writing today. Every event is meticulously planned out from the very first inkling of the plot to the final genre breaking pages. I do however wish this were planned to be part of a series. While everything is fairly well wrapped up, I definitely wish I could see more of this amazing world, whether it be in the form of novellas or a fully formed chonky mumma of a novel.
Basically, the take away is this. Does it have queer rep? Lots. Is it violent and dark? Definitely. Is it your stereotypical fantasy novel? No. Will I be shouting its praises from the rooftops when it releases here in Australia later this month? You can bet on it.
Until next time lovelies xo