Review: “Chasing Ravens” by Jessica E. Paige

Chasing Ravens by Jessica E. PaigeA review by Amanda.

I received a copy of this book for free from Booktrope in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Chasing Ravens is a beautiful story, woven from folklore around a young girl searching for a place to belong. Anouk is a quiet, lonely girl forced to live with her snobbish aunt and disinterested uncle in a new village after the deaths of her parents and her beloved grandmother. A renowned healer, she had begun teaching Anouk to follow in her footsteps, telling tales of mythical creatures who live in the woods. The only thing that brings Anouk comfort in her new, unwelcoming home is walking alone in the woods, collecting herbs that her aunt sells at the market, and recalling her grandmother’s stories.

Accepting of her tolerable, if not exciting future, Anouk is shocked into action when her uncle strikes a deal to marry her off to the town drunk. Fearful and disgusted at the prospect of marrying a cruel man more than twice her age—one who may have been responsible for the deaths of his previous wives—Anouk throws caution to the wind and flees with only her dog, Pip, and a horse stolen from her uncle. Hoping that neighbors in her home village will find it in their hearts to take her in, she rides through the forest, unsure that she’s even going in the right direction. Forces beyond her control lead her to an unknown village, hidden in the woods, and what may be Anouk’s best chance for acceptance, friendship, and a future.

This story is written in the manner of one passing down a folktale to new generations. The reader gets a good sense of the landscape, the people, and the creatures, but in a simple, straightforward way. This is not Tolkien’s lengthy descriptions of the minutiae and rightly so. The author does a brilliant job of blending reality with the imaginary, familiar with the new. There are recognizable characters from folklore (like Baba Yaga) who have been featured in many stories across the world, and ones that I had not heard of before but caught my interest nevertheless. I could have read this straight through and finished it in a day, but chose to put it down and savor the story. I would eagerly recommend this book to lovers of fantasy, fairy tales, and folklore.

My rating: 5/5 stars.

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