Not going to lie, I requested this on NetGalley 99% because of the cover art. It is utterly stunning. So I was delighted to be approved!
Four fates collide in this avian-inspired, epic fantasy retelling of Tristan and Isolde perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo!
A princess longing to be free…
On the dawn of her courtship trials, Princess Lyana Aethionus knows she should be focused on winning her perfect mate, yet her thoughts wander to the open sky waiting at the edge of her floating kingdom. One final adventure calls. Upon fleeing the palace, the last thing she expects to find is a raven prince locked in a death match with a dragon.
A bastard aching to belong…
Reviled son of a dead king, Rafe would do anything for his beloved half-brother, Prince Lysander Taetanus, including posing as him in the upcoming courtship trials. When a dragon interrupts their secret exchange, he orders his studious sibling to run. After suffering a fatal blow, Rafe is saved by a beautiful dove who possesses forbidden magic, just like him.
Fate brought them together, now destiny will tear them apart…
Unknown to the world above, on the foggy sea ten thousand feet below, a young king fights a forgotten war. He believes Lyana is the queen prophesied to save the world, and with the help of his favored spy, hidden deep in the highest ranks of the dove royal house, he will stop at nothing to have her.
Three shocking betrayals. Two star-crossed lovers. One unforgettable journey. If you like fierce heroines, brooding heroes, forbidden romance, and action-packed magical adventures with twists you’ll never see coming, don’t miss The Raven and the Dove!
It was all going very well for me with The Raven and the Dove. I’m a big fan of legendary retellings, and I quite like Tristan and Isolde. I enjoyed Izzy + Tristan last year, and the comps on the blurb of this book are authors I very much like. And as we proceeded through the book, I was quite enjoying myself. The love triangle was playing out perfectly as the fated lovers met, fell in love, then realised they were never meant to be.
Then I realised that there wasn’t enough time or space left in the book to wrap anything up. Nothing at all. So this book just kind of … cut things off. We have one character who’s portrayed on the blurb as being one of the four mains, but who we’ve barely seen, and the other three characters are left suspended in mid-arc. I thoroughly enjoyed the way that the author played with the character archetypes of Tristan and Isolde and Mark, and the world she build of islands floating above a sea of mist. I enjoyed how she portrayed the different clans of birds, and how their avian aspects came through in their personalities, appearances, and powers. I was a little confused what the difference between ‘magic’ and ‘the raven call’ is, to be honest, as that felt much like magic to me, but okay, we’ll let that slide. I thoroughly enjoyed how Davis played with Lyana and Rafe, how they interacted, and seeing inside Xander’s head as he realised his mate was not the kind of person he had expected to be by his side. All of that was great, which meant that 75% of the book – their three perspectives – was thoroughly enjoyable.
But meanwhile, there’s an underlying dilemma. A spy is wandering around, manipulating events, and plotting against our three heroes, working on behalf of the young king far below them. And this storyline wasn’t given enough prominence for the huge role it plays in the finale of the book. Honestly, it felt like it was far too separate from the love triangle playing out around them, and it was extremely jarring to see what a huge impact on the plot it had. Not least because the plot wasn’t resolved in any way.
I thought this was great until about 10% before the end. At that point, when I realised absolutely nothing would be resolved, I got quite fed up. The book cuts off at a high point. It’s written like a season finale in a tropey, melodramatic tv show, so that you’ll HAVE to tune in for the next season, and I really hate that in a book, so it massively soured my opinion and experience of this one.
Perhaps if you go in knowing that nothing is resolved, and everything is up in the air by the end of the book, you’ll find this less frustrating than I did. If that’s the case, this is definitely worth the read. The romance has depth, even for the star-crossed lovers trope, and the relationships between the main characters are nuanced and developed. The world is fabulous, and there’s clearly a depth of knowledge behind what the author lets us see which hints at a richly detailed backstory. Plenty to enjoy here, but pacing issues put me off.