Book Review: Mark of the Raven by Morgan L. Busse

Kait's Bookshelf Mark of the Raven
Cover art is copyright of Bethany House.

I hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving last week had an enjoyable week and long weekend with family and friends, reflecting on what you’re thankful for. I sure did. My hubby and I hosted dinner for twelve people which was exhausting yet wonderful! We had a houseful of family on Thursday and then Friday was for relaxing, reading, and online shopping. Did anyone grab any great deals? I’m definitely gifting books to some people this holiday season, but I can’t say which ones because those people read this blog!

Today I’ll be reviewing a Christian fantasy novel, Mark of the Raven. I love Christian-themed fantasy novels. The Chronicles of Narnia will forever be my favorite Christian fantasy series, but I was excited to see a new fantasy novel offered through Bethany House.

In Mark of the Raven, we learn of Eight Great Houses, or families, who each rule their own kingdom. Each Great House has a gift, or power, that has been passed down through the generations. Lady Selene is the latest young woman in her family, the Great House of Ravenwood, to inherit her family’s gift – dreamwalking. Selene, like her mother and the women before her, can enter into others’ dreams disguising herself as a raven. She can use her powers to manipulate others’ dreams and feelings and can even assassinate them in their sleep. The whole book is about a power struggle between the houses and a struggle within Selene to do what’s right. She knows she has duties and obligations to her family, but she doesn’t like using her gift for evil.

I’ll be perfectly honest: I was somewhat disappointed with this book. Now, it’s the first in a series so it’s very possible that the story will pick up and things will be answered/ resolved as the series continues. But things moved slowly through the first part of the book, and I found myself bored. It read like a pretty predictable fantasy story with magic, rivals, a lust for power, and of course a lost teenager in the middle of it all. The story picks up just before the ending, leaving the reader with a cliffhanger that will make you want to pick up book two in the series. I hope book two keeps up the pace.

While there are no open references to Christianity in this book, the struggle between light and dark and good and evil is clear. “The Dark Lady” is the one Lady Selene and her family turn to for guidance and help. This book went to a very dark place a few times. I didn’t enjoy reading about Selene’s training as a dreamwalker when she is taught how to use her gift for evil. Those were dark and somewhat disturbing scenes. But overall, the message is clear about the battle of good vs. evil. If you enjoy Christian fantasy stories, you might want to give this one a read.

I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House publishers. All opinions are my own.

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