Intense and intriguing... Raven Song by I.A. Ashcroft (Review)

Raven Song (Inoki's Game, #1)Raven Song
(Inoki's Game #1)
by I.A. Ashcroft
Adult Dystopian, Urban Fantasy
Paperback, Audiobook & ebook, 290 Pages
March 14th 2016 by Lucid Dreams Publishing


A century ago, the world burned. Even now, though rebuilt and defiant, civilization is still choking on the ashes. 

Jackson, a smuggler, lives in the shadows, once a boy with no memory, no name, and no future. Ravens followed him, long-extinct birds only he could see, and nightmares flew in their wake. Once, Jackson thought himself to be one of the lucky few touched by magic, a candidate for the Order of Mages. He is a man now, and that dream has died. But, the ravens still follow. The nightmares still whisper in his ear. 

Anna’s life was under the sun, her future bright, her scientific work promising. She knew nothing of The Bombings, the poisoned world, or the occult. One day, she went to work, and the next, she awoke in a box over a hundred years in the future, screaming, fighting to breathe, and looking up into the eyes of a smuggler. Anna fears she’s gone crazy, unable to fill the massive hole in her memories, and terrified of the strange abilities she now possesses. 

The Coalition government has turned its watchful eyes towards them. The secret factions of the city move to collect them first. And, old gods stir in the darkness, shifting their pawns on the playing field. 

If Anna and Jackson wish to stay free, they must learn what they are and why they exist. 

Unfortunately, even if they do, it may be too late.

Raven Song is the first of a four book adult-oriented dystopian fantasy series, a story of intrigue, love, violence, and the old spirits in the shadows who wait for us to notice them again. Readers of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Charlie Human will enjoy this dark magic-laced tale rooted on the bones of what our world could become.

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My Review

RAVEN SONG pulls the reader in right from the beginning and never lets go. The story is set in a post-apocalyptic New York, very different from the one we know. There is a ruling governing organization called the Coalition, an order of mages called The Order, various classes of citizens, and the outliers who are a danger to anyone outside the protected barrier walls and even sometimes within. Right in the middle of all this is Jackson, a wealthy smuggler who has his own strange power, and Anna, who has been thrown into the future with her own power. There are other unseen powers at play as well. The story is mysterious, suspenseful, dark, violent in parts, and romantic in others. Recommended to readers who enjoy a mix of adult sci-fi, fantasy, and romance that has a dark edge.

I really liked these characters. They are so complex and the author did a fantastic job of making them come alive in this story. Jackson is such an example of contrasts. He is an orphan and holds strong loyalties to his adoptive father who fights again his raven-shrouded dreams, but on the outside he is a ruthless smuggler who inherited a wealthy business. Anna is a very intelligent, innocent and sweet woman, unless pushed and then there's a fierceness that is pulled out. Another contrast. Anna is pretty lost and you could feel her emotions jump off the page. Together, they're an interesting combination and I'm curious to see how their relationship evolves. 

There are a slue of other side characters who also play their roles really well. Some of them have pretty strong parts and are influential in the plot. I liked that none of the characters felt flat to me. They all felt complex and authentic and I would never confuse one of them for another.

Then there's this crazy story. There was quite a bit going on, parts that were really intense, a few calmer sections where the story was still actively developing (even when there isn't anything actually happening, there really is, if that makes sense), and there other parts where the characters begin figuring things out. There was some psychotic parts as well (think an insane Joker who has magic and is a ringmaster). I had a few issues with Jackson being gullible in a few parts for him supposedly being the head smuggler and how easily he was guided along, and I also would have liked it cleaner (no f-words, please), but those were my only issues. All the craziness and plot points fell into place, although there are a lot of unknown factors still at the end of this first book, mysteries that will need to be solved later on.

In the end, was it what I wished for? I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this story, but I got more than whatever those expectations were. It was complex, dark, and intense. It was well-written, with a fictional world and characters who completely came alive. 

Content: Some swearing (including a few f-words), innuendo, and some horrifying violence.

Source: Received a complimentary copy from Author Assistant, which did not require a review nor affect it in any way.

Does this sound like something you'd like to read? If you want to know more about this story, check out the authors guest post here.

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