The Raven by Sylvain Reynard #Review

The Raven by Sylvain Reynard #ReviewThe Raven by Sylvain Reynard

Series: #1 The Florentine
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Berkley on February 3, 2016
Pages: 434
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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three-stars      three-half-flames

After reading the prequel and getting to know the main players in this series, I was eager to plunge in and get the full story.  The Prince, his people, the traitor in the midst, the Prince’s revenge against the Emersons…oh yes, I was ready.

The story opens a few years after the prequel.  The Prince had his eyes set on the Emersons and getting revenge against them because they purchased his stolen art.  He was distracted by an assassination attempt and a vampyre war.  But emerging the victor, he is now back to finishing his vengeance.  Until one night, he is distracted by the scent of the most delicious blood he has encountered.

Raven loves her work restoring art and enjoys her life in Florence with her few good friends and few simple pleasures.  She will never find the great love of her life since she has vision issues, is overweight, and has a physical disability caused by her foot not healing well from a past incident that she doesn’t like to think about.  Then one night, she sees a bunch of drunk bullies assaulting a homeless man and she intervenes only to have them turn on her.  Raven thinks she will be raped and killed for her act of heroism.

The Prince sees the woman cornered by the human attackers and it brings back a vivid memory of another young woman that he was unable to save.  The memory is so strong that it compels him to intervene in human affairs for the first time in centuries.  He risks so much because if his people knew, they would realize he had a weakness.  Amongst his kind, having a weakness is deadly particularly when there are already those who would bring him down for his place as the leader.  But to his surprise and frustration, the human woman is far from grateful and quite stubborn after he saved her life and kept her safe.

Raven has lost of week of her life and has altered so much physically that no one recognizes her.  Her physical defects are gone.  But with all this mystery comes the suspicion that she is responsible for the theft of the Emerson’s collection at the museum because it disappeared around the same time she left work before her week long absence.  And what does the enigmatic stranger in the dark have to do with it all.  Raven believes only what can be proven by science only she discovers that there may be a whole world out there beyond the scope of science.  And that world includes creatures of the dark who both terrify her and one specific one attracts her more than she wants to admit.  He doesn’t believe he can love and she can’t go without it.

Alright, so I was very excited to read this one.  I wasn’t far into it when I realized that the shine had worn off quickly.  I was no longer excited.  And then I was barely interested.  Why is this?

It had one of those heroines.  You know the kind- the princess in the tower, the ugly duckling that is really a swan, the hapless girl tied to the railroad tracks at the end of each episode.  Sigh…she wears her heart on her sleeve, has some stupid-stubborn going on, wants the moon and wants it now, has some mystic quality not apparent to me the reader that draws in a complicated powerful centuries-old being.  Raven drove me nuts because more than half the book was her getting into danger, him rescuing her and giving her advice to keep her safe, her ignoring it because it wasn’t her idea and how dare he tell her what to do, her leaping to conclusions and leaping into naive actions, and of course never believing a word he said even with the evidence before her.  Raven, bless her heart, was exhausting.

I don’t hate her.  It would be like hating a kitten.  She was the instigation for William finding his new-found conscience.  However, Raven has poor self-image and is constantly doubting anything positive said about her and has a crusader complex.  She had this attitude that William owed her all his secrets and must change all his thinking…now or I’m out the door, William (he’s 700 years old and lived quite the life, but she knows best of course).  But of course, her secrets and past, those were off the table, and she actually gets pissy because he had to do a trade-off to hear them.  I always felt like William was a curiosity and project for her and not a true love interest.  She didn’t respect him and she didn’t know him.  She knew what he should be by her rules (and this is not a knock against her beliefs just that she really had the arrogance of youth thing going for her a black and white limited outlook).   On occasion, I read a book and see an entirely different pairing that fits better in my mind and this is one of them.  Raven is touted as the light to William’s darkness which is undeniably true, but for me the true chemistry was when William was with Aoibhe.  She matched him better.

So here’s the thing.  I could have really gotten into this book sans Raven.  There was vampyre political intrigue with a traitor in the midst and the constant contention for power, the vampyre hunters released into the city with their worthy weapons, the Curia group who ‘protect’ humans still a shadowy threat, the personal tension between William and Aoibhe, and even William’s issue with his art collection being taken and eventually in the hands of the Emersons.  So much there to make for a good gritty story.

I was distracted and even bored at times.  I set this book aside more than once when I felt it was either circling back over the same ground or taking too long to get to something interesting.  I read on because I was curious about certain parts and that romance between William and Raven wasn’t one of them.  Usually, the romance is my favorite part, but in this case, I could have done without it.  This is the first segment of a series and this book ends with much of the plot left in a to be continued spot.  I’m not sure if I’ll press forward.

As to a recommend, this might have appeal to Urban Fantasy lovers who enjoy a slower paced piece, a fantastic setting in Florence and the artworld, and an intriguing brooding hero.

My thanks to Penguin Group for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #33 UF
Literary Pickers #33 Scarf
Blogger Shame #4
Mt. TBR #20

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • Debbie Haupt

    Wow you had me really psyched until you got to the nitty gritty. Yeah I’m so over those types of characters, woe is me get out your violin. I’m glad the rest of the read saved it from a dnf. Thanks Sophia Rose

    • Yes, I usually love these types of books- detailed colorful setting, political intrigue, vampire culture, and a romance, but I really couldn’t buy into the romance and the focus was on him rescuing her or being harangued to change. I have book two, but I’m in no rush to dive in since it stays with the same romance.

  • One if the main problems I have with any heroine is impulsiveness and self consciousness. Those traits irk me so much, which is why I had a hard time getting through the first Weird Girls book. I did like it, so I’m gonna start book 2 soon. This one doesn’t appeal to me yet. I’ll have to wait until the next book comes and see how everyone likes it. Great review!

    • Yes, her issues would be okay if they were there, but not the focus, but as the focus it was irritating since there was so many other great elements that were being neglected as a result.

  • Shari Delighted Read

    All I could think about was Edgar Allen Poe as I saw this. Not really the way you want to remember a romance book.

    • LOL, no, but hey, that raven and this Raven do have the fact that they do a lot of ‘quoting’ in common. 🙂

  • Oh, thanks so much for reading the book so that I won’t have to ! When I see heroins like this, I want an evil villain to shred them to pieces so that the hero can move on with someone else ^^ (Sorry, I just read a book with demons, I guess something stuck)

    • Yep, demon shredding would work. And there is an ambitious vampyress in the background who would give him a run for his money afterward.
      LOL, I do that too- let other people read a book I want to know more about before I try it (or don’t).

  • She would annoy me, I just know it

  • She does sound annoying. I can understand that. Sorry to hear that book wasn’t all you wanted it to be.

    • If only it had focused more on the other elements, I could have tolerated her issues better.

  • Well I don’t feel bad about passing on this one at all now. Darn on it losing it’s shine. She does sound like one that would be difficult for me. Sorry it wasn’t more of a hit for ya.

    • Curiosity got the better of me. 🙂 Raven drove me nuts in this one. But, the upside is that I did end up taking up the second book and found things much better since there was none of Raven’s shenanigans in it and the other stuff got more intense.