The Ravens, a good read for those looking for (dark) academia books
Genre: YA fantasy, romance, mystery, witch/witchcraft
The book is told through the two protagonists’ points of view.
Vivi Devereaux arrives on the Westerly College’s campus decided to start a new life, away from her mother. To her great surprise, she succeeds in becoming a potential member of the selective Kappa Rho Nu sorority. But she soon discovers that The Ravens girls are more than they first seem and are in fact all witches, Vivi included.
Scarlett Winter comes from a family of witches who all once reigned upon The Ravens. This year, she has to prove herself in order to be choosen as the next president of the sorority. But her project might well be compromised by some secret of her past.
When dark events happen on the campus specifically targetting The Ravens, Vivi and Scarlett will have to work together to save their sisters and protect their sorority from the fallout of its past.
I was a bit worried when starting this book because of some comments I read about it. I was concerned of being disappointed by this book who answered to my reading mood of the moment (witches and dark academia/college themes wanted). But fortunately I’m part of the readers who enjoyed The Ravens a lot!
The beginning of the book is rather slow as the authors take their time to describe Vivi’s and Scarlet’s pasts, the life on the campus and The Ravens and their witchcraft. A lot of attention is given to the witchcraft part with the sisters using various witchy things such as tarots and different plants allowing the reader to feel the magic surrounding the story. I really enjoyed this part as I think that worldbuilding in books about witches is often overlooked. It also contributes to the academia theme which becomes darker and darker as the plot goes on.
And here I should say the plots since we follow Vivi’s discovery of her witchcraft and Scarlett’s life and management of her role in the sorority, the all being part of the overall plot of someone trying to hurt The Ravens. All of these are well integrated together so it’s not difficult to follow and just make you curious of knowing more. I have to admit that I was totally surprised by the final plot-twist even though all the hints were there. But I was just so much into the story that I let the authors leading me where they wanted (and I was proud of myself all this time, thinking that I had for once discovered the answer to the mystery). Finally, yes there is a bit of romance but I found it a bit unnecessary because not developed enough.
Vivi’s is the character I less preferred since I find her to be a bit classic and stereotypical. She’s indeed stubborn and naive and undecided but she’s saved by her good heart and empathy for others. However, she tackles an issue almost every girl/woman encounters at least once in her life which is the lack of self-confidence. And she proves that you can still evolve and surpass it. Unlike some reviews I read before opening The Ravens, I don’t find her stupid for not listening to her mom. Obviously, she should have but we can understand her behaviour considering the chaotic childhood she had and the many secrets her mother kept. Instead of telling them when her daughter is ready and needs them, she choose to basically disappear and let Vivi on her own.
On the other hand, I find Scarlett more elaborated and complex. At first she’s the epitomy of the sorority president, the most popular girl on the campus and the bad character as we can see in American TV series. But we soon discover all her insecurities and her fear and guilt concerning her past. She has never been a weak character but at the end of the book she becomes a real leader, aware that power comes with a lot of responsabilities.
In short: The Ravens is a very good book for the fans of dark academia vibes and witches, even if the latter part could be more present. The sisterhood aspect is really well developed and makes us wish to be part of it. I was first a bit lost among all the sisters but each of them is given space to her story and are really well integrated in the plots. The true surprise for me is the fact that the two-voice narration didn’t bothered me while I usually struggle with books with this type of narration. Can’t wait for the sequel!
My rating: 5/5
Trigger warnings: death, murder/torture, violence, suicide
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