4 out of 4 stars
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Set in 24 AD, Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner is a historical fantasy novel. The center of the story is Catrin, a young Celtic princess with a mysterious connection to a raven. As the threat of war with Rome rises, King Amren, Catrin’s father, must go to negotiate peace. Marcellus, a Roman, is taken as hostage to ensure the king’s safety. Romance quickly blooms between Marcellus and Catrin, despite Queen Rhiannon prohibiting such a thing. With her father gone, Agrona the Druidess is charged with teaching Catrin to control her connection to the raven. During these lessons, though, Catrin learns more than she ever anticipated. In this world of magic, war, and hidden agendas, Catrin must choose between her family and her forbidden love, all while uncovering dark secrets from her past.
Linnea Tanner has done an outstanding job capturing the essence of this period. With an author’s note that details her research, it is easy to see how it was worked into the novel. From clothing to vocabulary, Tanner ensured that everything was historically correct. One word stood out to me as I had never heard it before—cathos. I was able to determine the meaning of cathos through context; in the author’s note, Tanner explains that it is a Celtic word meaning detestation or hatred.
Within the historically accurate setting, we have the fictional characters that Tanner brought to life. Catrin is the main character and exceptionally well-rounded. This is not to say that the other characters were not; Queen Rhiannon, King Amren, and Marcellus are only a few of the multifaceted characters that Tanner has written. None of these are the main focal point of Tanner’s story, but all play a crucial role. It was refreshing to see them as well-developed characters rather than players in Catrin’s life.
The writing itself is the highlight of the novel. Apollo’s Raven is a balance between war, humor, and romance. Vivid descriptions and intricate details brought me into the world that Tanner created. There were moments where I could not read fast enough, and others where I unintentionally slowed my pace, trying to capture every ounce of the scenes depicted. The ending is a cliffhanger, and while it will leave you wanting more, it does not disappoint.
I give Apollo’s Raven a rating of 4 out of 4 stars. The book is for both adult and young adult readers. For someone interested in historical fiction, fantasy, and romance novels, Apollo’s Raven is an excellent choice. There are some scenes that may be disturbing for some readers, so I recommend keeping that in mind when choosing to read this. However, those scenes are minimal. If you are not interested in romance and erotic scenes, I would also avoid this book. Otherwise, I can see many audiences genuinely enjoying this.
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