by I.A. Ashcroft4 out of 5
Name: Raven Song
Series: Inoki's Game (Book 1)
Paperback: 290 pages
Published Date: March 14, 2016
Publisher: Lucid Dreams Publishing
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/raven-song-i-a-ashcroft/1123510684
A century ago, the world burned. Even now, though rebuilt and defiant, civilization is still choking on the ashes.
Jackson, a smuggler, lives in the shadows, once a boy with no memory, no name, and no future. Ravens followed him, long-extinct birds only he could see, and nightmares flew in their wake. Once, Jackson thought himself to be one of the lucky few touched by magic, a candidate for the Order of Mages. He is a man now, and that dream has died. But, the ravens still follow. The nightmares still whisper in his ear.
Anna’s life was under the sun, her future bright, her scientific work promising. She knew nothing of The Bombings, the poisoned world, or the occult. One day, she went to work, and the next, she awoke in a box over a hundred years in the future, screaming, fighting to breathe, and looking up into the eyes of a smuggler. Anna fears she’s gone crazy, unable to fill the massive hole in her memories, and terrified of the strange abilities she now possesses.
The Coalition government has turned its watchful eyes towards them. The secret factions of the city move to collect them first. And, old gods stir in the darkness, shifting their pawns on the playing field.
If Anna and Jackson wish to stay free, they must learn what they are and why they exist.
Unfortunately, even if they do, it may be too late.
Raven Song is the first of a four book adult-oriented dystopian fantasy series, a story of intrigue, love, violence, and the old spirits in the shadows who wait for us to notice them again. Readers of Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, and Charlie Human will enjoy this dark magic-laced tale rooted on the bones of what our world could become.
‘Aware that this is just the first book in the series and I am hooked and will read on, however as a standalone book it would still make a fantastic read.’ ~ Mark on Goodreads
‘A good urban fantasy with well-developed characters and a grim and complex setting. I would recommend.’ ~ Dannica Zulestin on Goodreads
‘Ashcroft has a brilliant imagination coupled with an eloquent writing style that draws the reader in, makes us feel a wide array of emotions, and holds us captivated to the very end. I anxiously await the next volume in this series.’ ~ K. McCaslin on Amazon
‘I usually think endings are the worst part of most books, hard to wrap up into a logical and solid ending, this book did well at it I was satisfied but very much looking forward to the next book.’ ~ taruofatlantis on Amazon
‘The narration by Mikael Naramore was good. He was able to capture the voices of the characters well, especially the manic Tony. In general the characters were distinguishable and the voicing gave life to each of them. The production quality was good as well.’ ~ Poonam on AudioBook Reviewer.
Jackson works hard to keep the family firm afloat, and he works even harder to stamp down the peculiarities that make him a freak. But when a contract takes him into the nuclear wasteland outside New York city, and drops Anna in his path, everything is set to change.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.
My attention was caught from the very beginning.
Well, OK, not the very beginning, the Prologue featuring Jackson as a young boy did confuse me; but once I hit the first chapter and grown-up Jackson's life, we were on a roll.
Ashcroft has created a post-apocalyptic world, a hundred years after the bombings, New York carries on with life, underneath a dome that protects its citizens from radiation.
Since his father's death, Jackson runs the courier company that has been in the Dovecote family for generations. Fear of having to lay staff off, makes Jackson willing to take on a government contract, which leads him into the wasteland.
I loved the idea that ravens were extinct, but Jackson kept seeing them, and trying his best to ignore them. The intrigue of his magic, which is shunned by the Mage Order, and a part of him that Jackson wishes he could be without.
Then Anna gets literally dropped into his path. A woman who does not make sense. She only remembers life before the bombings, when she was a normal scientist; but she ends up in a box, a hundred years later, with the ability to create radiation when she's upset.
I liked Anna's following story, how she goes from sheer panic, to logically analysing what was happening to her, before finally embracing the fact that she had these growing powers.
The middle of the book drops of a bit; at times it threatens to be one big, crazy mess. There is a boiling pot of characters, sub-plots, betrayals, Coalition; Mage Order; The Announcer.
It was hard to follow, it may have been Jackson and Anna's confusion blurring up the narrative.
But the crazy ride gets back on track for the ending.
I will definitely be continuing with this series.
I. A. Ashcroft has been writing fiction in many forms for almost twenty years. The author's first book, written at age seven, featured the family cat hunting an evil sorceress alongside dragons and eagles. This preoccupation with the fantastical has not changed in the slightest.
Now, the author dwells in Phoenix, AZ alongside a wonderful tale-spinner and two increasingly deranged cats. Ashcroft writes almost exclusively in the realm of darker fantasy these days, loving to entertain adults with stories of magic, wonder, despair, violence, and hope, bringing a deep love of mythology into every tale penned. The author also loves diverse and intriguing casts of characters.
When not buried in a book, one might find Ashcroft learning languages, charting road trips, and playing tabletop RPGs with clever and fun people.
Contact the Author:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/I.-A.-Ashcroft/e/B01CTY42S0/
A boy lay on the broken sidewalk, eyes closed. He was pale and thin, looking not a day over ten years old. His half-clothed body shuddered against the chilly night air. His bony frame scraped against the grime of the street as he curled into himself, trying to keep back the cold. Overhead, the stars hung bright and lonely.
In the alley, almost invisible against the midnight darkness, a man stood tall over the boy. His well-pressed suit was as black as the shadows, as his skin, and as the raven on his shoulder. The way he hovered over the child, he seemed a strange guardian. But his eyes were turned upwards to the sky, away from the boy’s plight, as if it was no real matter. In those black eyes the stars were mirrored, impossible and brilliant. Those eyes stared back into the past, when the celestial lights were loved and revered, when each constellation had a story.
Once upon a time… this was when the world had sung to him, the dream-walker, the song-weaver, the star-stringer.
Once, before humans had forgotten his name.
Now, the starry sky was almost hidden by the glowing blue haze of the Barrier, a shield cast over what was left of the city: proud New York, ruined, rebuilt, defiant.
The stranger kept staring upwards into oblivion, even as the boy let out an unhappy whimper, chills wracking his weak frame. The raven flew from the stranger’s shoulder then, alighting onto the sidewalk, picking past the weeds and rubble. It rejoined its fellows who had settled amicably around the child, oblivious to the fact that ravens were all supposed to be dead. One hundred years ago, poison had leeched into the earth, into the grass, into the grazers, and into the corpses left behind. The blight spared little, its kind no exception. Regardless, this impossible creature affectionately brushed at the boy’s dark hair with its beak.
At the touch, the boy awoke with a start. His wide, uncomprehending eyes took in the world as he struggled to sit up, his head swinging around wildly; past awnings and high rises he had never seen, past scrawled words and graffiti he could not understand. He teetered to his feet, then fell back down again as his knees gave out, sending the birds around him into flight.
He saw no starry eyes in the darkness, no stranger standing nearby. He was halfnaked, shivering, hungry, and alone, his head aching down to his teeth. The nameless boy shook off the dreams he couldn’t remember and wondered where he was.
If there had been any passersby on that cold autumn night, they would have sworn that this boy hadn’t been there a minute ago, and no stranger or ravens had been there at all.