Title: In the Ravenous Dark
Author: A.M. Strickland
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Tropes/Themes: Poly romance, Blood Mages, LGBTQIA+, Apocalyptic world
Edition/Pages: Hardcover, 400 Pages
Thank you so much to Imprint and Netgalley for providing an e-arc copy in exchange for an honest review
Wow. This was absolutely amazing!
I read very little of the synopsis (beyond the pitch) before going into this so a lot of this story took me by surprise. This book is hella queer, dark, gritty, and took me on a wild ride. I cannot wait to read more from A.M. in the future after devouring this fantastic fantasy!
This story follows a young woman who has hidden her abilities as a blood mage her entire life after witnessing mages kill her father for being unguarded. But after her powers are witnessed, she is whisked off to the palace, forced to bond with a spirit guardian, and then thrust in court politics.
I adored each and every one of the characters in here. Roven can be a frustrating character at times, but it made her feel even more authentic as a 19 year old woman. She makes some selfish/poor decisions but I actually loved following an MC who didn’t have all the right answers. She knows as little about politics and the world as the reader does going in, and she definitely doesn’t figure it all out without trial.
This book is so fantastically casually queer. This book is not about discovering sexuality or coming out in any way. Instead it’s about living you life and loving whoever the hell you want. This book has on page pansexual rep, lesbian rep, non binary rep, asexual rep, and a poly relationship.
This story took a WILD turn I wasn’t expecting around the halfway point. And I loved it even more for that. This book explores family, love (in all it’s forms), and has an epic battle of good versus evil.
There is SO much packed into this standalone. There is never a single moment or page that isn’t revealing something or moving the plot along. In fact, there was so much in here that I almost wish it had been a duology. Because this plot was so intricate, I felt like lost a little time and ability to sit with the characters and watch their relationships develop. But at the same time, I love having a complete story in one book and having a new standalone fantasy to recommend.
Bonus – the audiobook for this is fantastically narrated! I always worry that fantasy books will be more difficult to follow via audio, but that was definitely not the case with this one! Not only is the narrator amazing, but the world building is flawlessly woven into the story, so there’s no overwhelming info dumping to get lost in.
Overall I was blown away by this dark fantasy. The themes were much gritty and darker than I was expecting and I would definitely classify this on the upper end of YA fantasy. But it’s fantastically written with a complex and lush world and unique, wonderful characters.