In a world covered by a deadly miasma, humans survive by way of the protection of powerful mages known as Keepers. In the town of Ravenhearth, the Keeper requests a companion every ten years. What happens to them after those ten years, no one knows, for none has ever returned.
Ash is a young orphan who dreams of learning magic. When the newest request for a companion is posted, he volunteers. Upon his arrival, he finds the Keeper’s home is nothing like the fearful whispers shared around the village. Instead, he slowly grows to become part of the close-knit family of the Keeper’s castle—and falling for Giles, the butler of Ravenhearth, rather than the mage he’s been sent there to attend.
Ravenhearth is a good book that suffers a little due to not so well developed secondary characters and a not so strong middle.
But first the good: the main character, Ash, is fantastic. It’s so rare for me to read a book with a protagonist I can actually understand and sympathize with that being in Ash’s head was a delight. He’s a character I can like, and better, one I can identify with (seriously, every time he embarrassed himself – or just got embarrassed – I was nodding to my tablet and thinking, yeah, Ash, same). There aren’t enough genuine shy, awkward characters out there, but Ash is thankfully one of them.
The writing is also really nice, and the first few pages are really well written (well, the whole book is, but I loved Ravenhearth‘s beginning).
The other characters, though, didn’t convince me much. They are nice, but we never get to know them more – this also happens with Giles, Ash’s main love interest (which is kind of alarming, because, you know, he is the love interest). I feel like the book barely scratched the surface of their personalities, which is a pity, since every single one of them seemed to be really interesting.
The middle also dragged a bit, mainly because there isn’t any sense of urgency. Ash wants to learn magic, and then he starts to learn magic, but there isn’t much tension. In the end, I think the book lacked in momentum; it starts really well and then slows down too much before the final act, where it speeds up again.
The worldbuilding could’ve been better, but this didn’t bother me much since it’s a book focused on romance. So…
Notes on diversity: Well, it’s a M/M book. Ash is bisexual and Giles seems to be too (and he’s described as having “olive skin”), but it’s not clear. One of the side (male) characters seems to be queer too.
In conclusion, I liked Ravenhearth. It’s a really nice, really, I don’t know, “feel good” kind of read, and I loved the main character. I wished there were more books about him, but Ravenhearth is, as far as I know, a standalone. 3.5 stars.