The word “dark” might have been invented for this book! Just look at that cover – it’s like the beginning of Snow White when the queen wishes for a baby as “white as snow, dark as ebony, red as blood“. Before you even get to the first page, you know this isn’t going to be an innocent walk in the woods.
Reminiscent of Hideous Creatures, this book has many layers, each more frightening than the next. Each of the three main characters begin what seem like separate paths before coming together in a terrifying finale. And this is one of the few criticisms I have of this book. Each protagonist has a story complicated enough to fill a book on its own, so the irregular swapping between them can make things hard to follow. Sometimes I had to flip back to the last section on them to remind myself where we were before I could continue.
Did I like this story? No! It was scary and creepy! It’s the kind of story that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, like somebody is spying on you. But I do think this is a good book. It’s harsh, but believably so and there’s solid background research underpinning it. I also love the genre-bending that Karen Maitland is doing here. Is it a horror? Or a supernatural story? Or a historical novel? It’s all of them at once, which is pretty tricky to do well. But it just works.
Is The Raven’s Head worth the investment of time (and lightbulbs, because you won’t want to sleep with the light off after you finish it)?
Absolutely. You might just need to sketch out a timeline for each main character to keep things straight at first.
Source: ARC from Netgalley
Published by: Headline
Released: 12th March 2015
Buy it from: Hive