Review: Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier

Posted September 3, 2014 by Jessica in Fantasy, Jessica, Reviews, Young Adult / 20 Comments

Review: Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier
Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier
Series: Shadowfell #2
Published by Knopf
Published on: July 9 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased
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After completing the long, weary journey to the rebel hiding ground at Shadowfell, Neryn is now a vital part of their plan to overthrow the tyrannical King Keldec. Every step she takes toward perfecting her skills as a powerful, once-in-a-generation Caller gets them closer to their goal. But first she must seek out the disparate leaders of the Good Folk to complete her training--and the time she has left is wearing thing.

Meanwhile, Neryn's beloved, the double agent Flint, is summoned to the king's court. There the king's slipping confidence puts Flint in great danger. Yet his connection to Neryn is so strong that they reach each other in their dreams, sharing painful but precious glimpses into on another's lives. Their love is regarded warily by their rebel allies, for placing any emotion above the cold logic of the cause puts the entire movement at risk. But their bond also reveals valuable information, for the tide of the war may soon be turning...

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I wasn’t very impressed with the first installment of this trilogy . . . BUT I’m a big enough fan of Marillier, and I saw enough glimpses of the excellence I’ve come to expect from her, that it wasn’t too difficult to make myself continue with the series.

I. Am. SO glad.

Raven Flight was everything I expected Shadowfell to be. Ominous foreshadowings, beautifully imagined Fae creatures (and by “beautifully” I don’t mean pretty—I mean convincingly alien creatures to blow your friggin’ mind), the bittersweet longing of new love separated b/c of duty, heartbreaking, but spine-straightening truths learned by both the characters and the reader, as one . . . <——THIS is why Juliet Marillier will always have a spot on the bookshelf of my heart.

In Raven Flight, we get to know some of the characters we’d barely met at the end of Shadowfell.

There are several types of stock female warrior characters. My first impression of Tali was that she was a female warrior of the hardass, I-have-no-time-for-puny-nonwarrior-females-like-you-go-mend-something variety, and honestly, it took some time for that impression to get proven wrong—when Regan tells Tali that’s she to guard Neryn as she seeks out the Guardians, Tali doesn’t handle it well.

She rants. She raves. She pleads. And finally, she acquiesces, but she does not do it gracefully, and for the first part of their travels, they barely speak a word to each other (b/c sulking). BUT. Nothing brings people together like conflict (Just ask Harry, Ron, and Hermione).

Tali and Neryn are doing their stealthy travel thing when Tali leaves Neryn to fish or scout or something. So Neryn’s just chillin’ behind some scrub when she hears their predetermined warning signal, but instead of taking off on her own like she’s supposed to, she sneakily investigates.

And it’s a good thing too, b/c Tali’s trying to defend herself against 5(ish) men, and she’s good, but nobody’s that good. Neryn isn’t as sneaky sneaky as she thinks she is either, b/c pretty quickly she’s caught and used as a hostage against Tali—NOT good.

So what does Neryn do?

Uses her super Callerness, of course.

And what shows up to help?

Awesome river creature guy, that’s what.

Help us! Quickly, help!
The river roiled and rose up…
The water rose to my waist. A figure rose with it, taller than a tall man, a being all ripples and eddies and swirls, its features discernible as darker patches in the watery substance of its face. Flotsam adhered to its head, forming what might be hair or a hat, and within its body twigs and leaves washed about as if carried on the natural flow of the river. In its liquid face a mouth opened, a great dark  cavity, and one of the men let out a terrified oath.
But as fantastic as the description of this creature was, Marillier goes further to create a personality, an entity, with complex and consistent patterns of behavior.
The river being spoke, its voice a thundering torrent of sound in which I sensed rather than heard words. “Wash, dip, splash, drown?”
Tali glanced at the eldritch creature, then quickly away. “Tell it not yet,” she said. “Not till they’ve answered some questions.”
“Wait, please,” I said, my teeth chattering . . .
Tali and Neryn get what information they can from the men, using River Creature to encourage when necessary. When they’ve learned everything of use, Neryn must decide what to do with them, and the ever helpful River Creature is happy to provide more options:
The river being held still, keeping the two suspended. So far as I could tell, it was looking at me. “Plunge, toss, drown, change?” it inquired

That whole scene takes place over the course of a couple of pages, and it. Is. EPIC. Coolest flippin’ Fae creature I’ve encountered in recent memory. And while this one is my favorite, it is only one of many.

So yeah . . . hard not to bond after that.

And then there’s the whole star crossed lovers aspect. You already know that I LOVE Flint. Well . . . so does Neryn. But they can’t be together, b/c . . . they just can’t. Not telling. But their love is so pure and so sweet and so absolutely delicious, that you can’t be upset about the lack of Flint in this installment, b/c the LONGING has taken hold of you, and you refuse to let it go. You cling to it, roll around in it, braid it into your hair and dance with it, and threaten anything that challenges it with torches and pitchforks.

Almost as fantastic as the LONGING, is the insight into Tali (I knew it, I KNEW IT).

When Neryn encounters the warrior ghosts for the second time, Tali is with her. Tali, being a warrior, herself, is of course going to be affected by the meeting. But it’s more than that, and, no, I can’t tell you why, just trust me—it is.

I did, however, have a couple of small issues. That thing that I knew about Tali? I’m pretty sure you’d figure it out too. It was kind of obvious in that the-lady-doth-protest-too-much way, but not only did Neryn not figure it out, she consciously states (or thinks—can’t remember which) that she had no clue. None whatsoever.

Really? B/c there’s a difference between naive and oblivious, and I was pretty sure Neryn wasn’t oblivious. Maybe I was mistaken . . .

My second (and bigger) issue, is that a fairly important character was killed off page. I hate that. 1. there’s no resolution, and 2. it’s lazy. I don’t care if someone saw his head on a pike. If I don’t know, irrefutably, that a character is dead, I can’t let go. I keep expecting it to be a mistake, a misunderstanding, a LIE, and they’re going to turn up again any page now.

And that . . . is emotionally exhausting. And I’m already emotionally exhausted, b/c you killed someone important. So just stop it. THANKS.

But overall, Raven Flight was an excellent book. So excellent that I have no qualms about making many friends and family members suffer through the first less-than-stellar installment to get to this one.<——this will happen and SOON. If you still aren’t completely sold, have no fear—The Caller, the final installment of this trilogy will be available September 9. I’m off to read it right now, and I’ll be back to let you know how it goes. Count on it.

Books in the Shadowfell series:

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My name is Jessica and I live in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I’m trying my hand at writing, but mostly I read. My favorite genres are Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, and the YA versions of those genres, but if there is a book of a different color getting lots of buzz, I’ll read it too, just to be informed. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m probably on Goodreads or Pinterest or baking blueberry pies because I love them.

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20 responses to “Review: Raven Flight by Juliet Marillier

  1. Oh it’s nice to see that despite a mixed first book you had such a great time with this one. I’m not sure I would have continued so fast. But it’s great to have a wonderful surprise like that and now I hope the next one will be even better!

  2. I just don’t know. I’ve heard excellent things about the author and the writing, but there’s something that just holds me back from it. I feel like there will be a lot of flowery prose and sometimes I just want them to get on with it, you know? At least the sequel was a marked improvement over the first book. Excellent review Jessica!
    Jeann recently posted…Blog Tour & Review: Cooper Bartholomew Is Dead by Rebecca James

  3. Well, now I’m happy to wait until you’ve read the final book to get all three together so I can happily binge read them and know that if the first book ain’t perfect for me, it does get better!

    Off-page (as well as off-screen) deaths of characters are so hard to deal with! Any important character death is a challenge to deal with while reading, there will be refusals to believe such a thing has happened, to even make it happen as a thing of heresay… I’ll take your word and warning to heart for whenever I read this one.

    Fantastic review, Jessica!
    Pili recently posted…Waiting On Wednesday #58!!

  4. I read this series earlier in the year, and while it was a decent series, I have to admit, it doesn’t really rank too highly in my list. Bit too much walking/talking, not too much action? I definitely agree that the series gets better as you read on though! I’d say the third is my favourite, so I hope you enjoy it too 🙂

    And dude yes, the off-page character killing! It just doesn’t give you closure, especially if it’s a main character or a villain. I mean, if it’s a villain, you can’t help but think that he/she isn’t really dead…and then you spend the whole book just waiting for them to jump out at you!
    Nara recently posted…Flailage: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas

  5. I love how excited you were about this one even though you had a few issues with it. It’s rare that book #2 is anything more than filler so to actually love it more than #1 is great!

  6. I haven’t read this author but it sounds like it might be worth reading. I do like books in this genre and this type of story is what I like to read when in the mood for it. Thanks for the great review.
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…24 Years…

  7. I’ve heard this author strongly recommended a few time recently. If the first one in this series wasn’t up to your normal expectations, what book would you suggest starting out with? (I hate for my first book to be one that is sub-par, may make me less likely to read another)
    Lisa recently posted…Age of Iron by Angus Watson

  8. Mogsy from BiblioSanctum  

    Wow, I was gonna say, what a complete turn around from book one to book two! I just actually got a review copy of Marillier’s upcoming book and it’ll be my first experience with her, so I’m really excited!

  9. Jessica, I’m so glad this book redeemed the series for you. It does sound pretty fantastic…with a few issues. 😉 I’ve never read Marillier but your comment of “spine-straightening truths learned by both the characters and the reader, as one . . .” makes me think she’s an author that I would enjoy as well. Lovely review, girl!

  10. So happy that this was an improvement over Shadowfell, Jessica! It would’ve been a waste of an excellent swoon worthy book boyfriend otherwise. I need to know about this Flint dude – he sounds very appealing. And look, there are more female characters in this one too! Maybe by the time the series concludes Tali and Neryn will be friends rather than just reluctant allies. Female friendships are a must in my YA fantasy. Fingers crossed that The Caller is just as good as this one!
    Danya recently posted…Tough Traveling: Turncoats

  11. Jess1

    River Creature sounds fascinating. In some books, I can really like some secondary characters or creatures so much. Dobby’s death in Harry Potter just shocked and crushed me when I read it.