4 out of 4 stars
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Apollo’s Raven by Linnea Tanner is an exciting literary adventure set in Britannia nearly two thousand years ago. The book is a fantasy and historical fiction novel with plenty of adventure and romance. The story follows Catrin, a Celtic princess gifted with the ability to see the world through ravens’ eyes and cursed with a dark prophecy.
Senator Lucius Antonius comes to Britannia with his son, Marcellus, to meet with King Amren, Catrin’s father. The meeting turns violent with Lucius refuses to acknowledge King Amren’s wife or daughters as heirs to the throne, and supports the King’s outcast son instead. To quell the dispute, both sides exchange hostages until negotiations with Marrock and a bordering king are complete; Marcellus must stay with King Amren’s family while the king’s eldest daughter, Vala, stays with the Roman soldiers. As Catrin and Marcellus attempt to spy on each other and extract information, they fall in love.
I enjoyed reading this book. The combination of genre, time period, and geography sets this book apart from other fantasy or historical fiction novels. The author does a fantastic job of providing vivid imagery of the Celtic landscape, and she also brings the Roman and Celtic cultures to life by describing the food, clothing, and daily life of the characters. The book is written to appeal to all of the senses; the detail around the smells of firewood and lavender add a hypnotic touch that teleports the reader into the setting.
The characters are well-developed, and the author makes all of the major players appear more realistic by describing their internal conflicts. Many romance novels have a set archetype for the dashing hero and beguiling lady; however, Tanner instead crafts strong and complex personalities for Catrin and Marcellus. Even outside of the main characters, their families discuss motifs of forbidden love, power struggles, and loyalty. I am always interested in the psychology of a story’s villains, and I appreciate how Tanner provides detail towards developing the motives for characters like Rhan, Marrock, and Lucius.
I give this book 4 out of 4 stars; the book is well-written and an enjoyable read. I did not find any errors while reading. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, romance, drama, and fantasy. However, I would not recommend this book to younger readers, given the number of scenes containing graphic violence or sex. The book ends on a cliffhanger, and I am excited to see what awaits Catrin and Marcellus in the sequels.
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