Series: Shadowfell #2
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Published by Knopf Books for Young Readers on July 9, 2013
Source: Edelweiss, NetGalley
Reviewed by: Julia
Kissing and references to sex.
Neryn has finally found the rebel group at Shadowfell, and now her task is to seek out the elusive Guardians, vital to her training as a Caller. These four powerful beings have been increasingly at odds with human kind, and Neryn must prove her worth to them. She desperately needs their help to use her gift without compromising herself or the cause of overthrowing the evil King Keldec.
Neryn must journey with the tough and steadfast Tali, who looks on Neryn's love for the double agent Flint as a needless vulnerability. And perhaps it is. What Flint learns from the king will change the battlefield entirely-but in whose favor, no one knows.
While my initial impression of the Shadowfell series was anticipation, the advent of a rousing adventure in a new and interesting fantasy world, my excitement has dwindled and fizzled under the slow plodding of RAVEN FLIGHT. I appreciated the technical message behind this book, the way Neryn developed her powers in particular, but very little of the actual plot was able to hold my attention. While SHADOWFELL had whetted my appetite for this series, RAVEN FLIGHT felt like a holding pattern before book three.
With Neryn living on the road, the book itself feels like a long, tunneled journey. The field of vision is confined to the road ahead and the potential for violence behind every bush. While I normally don't like too much politics in my fantasy, this series could use a more nuanced villain. The oppressive weight of the crown's control over every village, every chief, juxtaposed by certain, cruel death leaves very little to be interested in the interim. Until Neryn can defeat the king, he's not particularly interesting facet of the story and that confrontation is at least a book away. And though Neryn's development of her powers was well written, doggedly pursuing each of four Guardians made them feel as exciting as check marks on a To-Do list.
Though I forgave many of the pacing difficulties of SHADOWFELL for sheer excitement, my enthusiasm wasn't enough to carry me through RAVEN FLIGHT. While SHADOWFELL felt like "a long slow build up", RAVEN FLIGHT was more like the plateau at the top of a hill. Breathless, gasping, hanging in the air, the story seemed mired in the knowledge that this was just the middle of the series, the pause before the climax where anything good could happen. The patience with which Marillier builds this story still has me interested in reading book three, but despite a quick burst of action at the end of RAVEN FLIGHT, the story never regained enough momentum to send me proactively seeking the last installment in this series.