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Ravencliffe by Carol Goodman
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Ravencliffe

by Carol Goodman

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"I felt, for the moment at least, that I was home. Not because I was returning to Blythewood, but because I was sitting beside a friend--and really, what other sort of home was there?"

A charming followup to Blythewood. Ravencliffe takes us beyond the protected realm of Ava's boarding school refuge and into a world that's a little bit darker. We're granted more diverse characters and stronger, sassier developments for some of the usual suspects (Helen kills it in this installment). Drood is up to his usual evil antics, but there's also a suggestion of that flicker of light he may still possess.

The magic folk, however, are the real stars of this show. I love the glimpses into the Darkling way of life, the diversity of the carnival crowd, and Etta's quiet but powerful role as a bridge between long divided factions. And Ava, of course, has her chance to shine and come fully to terms with her new identity. Ravencliffe felt fuller in regards to world expansion and character depth. Goodman's portrayal of Coney Island, the sinking of the Titanic, construction of the Woolworths building, and similar historical elements were perfectly executed and offered both story credibility and depth. A delightful read. ( )
  GennaC | May 9, 2017 |
I had mixed feelings about the first one (I liked it, thought it was too long, but the ending was enough of a Good Time that it made me forget it), and I liked this one a bit better (unusual for the 2nd book in a series). Good fun! ( )
  aliceoddcabinet | Jul 25, 2015 |
After the Blythewood cliffhanger I was more than eager to begin Ravencliffe. So much happened in the first book, but the end was really revealing. *SPOILER ALERT for BLYTHEWOOD* Ava found out that her father is a Darkling and that she is also a Darkling. She also kinda insulted her boyfriend, Raven, when he told her what was happening. Though she didn't do it on purpose. Ava is lost and confused and so scared that her friends and family will reject her when they find out what's happening to her. All that takes a backseat, however, when Ava learns that girls are being kidnapped by the evil Judicus van Drood. Only Ava can stop him before it's too late.

I'm always a little scared to read the second book of a series when I liked the first book so much. A lot of the time the story line loses steam and the second book falls short. Not this time, though. Ravencliffe was just as good as the first book. In the first book, Ava's mother's past is revealed. In this book, Ava's father is revealed. As is more information about the Darklings. Pride and prejudice have to be put aside for the greater good. Ava has to trust in herself and her friends. This series just keeps getting better and better. I really can't wait till the third book comes out. Which isn't until December. If you haven't started this series yet, it will give you plenty of time to catch up.
Read more at http://www.toreadornottoread.net/2015/04/review-ravencliffe.html#0q8V5BCBtk4zPm7... ( )
  mt256 | May 2, 2015 |
For more reviews, gifs, Cover Snark and more, visit A Reader of Fictions.

Last week, I reviewed Blythewood. I enjoyed it, but it felt like one of those series openers that would lead to a series that got better from that starting point or that would take a turn for the worse. Blythewood left me with some concerns. I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about the plot or the romance, but I was tentatively excited for Ravencliffe, which dispelled my worries. Ravencliffe slightly edges out Blythewood in quality, with all the same positives and a couple of delightful improvements.

The plot of Ravencliffe is one of the areas where it exceeds Blythewood in quality. In the first book, I was easily able to predict much of the outcome. In Ravencliffe, I didn’t see the resolution coming. Partly, I think that’s due to my expectations for such set ups and the fact that people are working together better than I generally expect. While there are still plot points based on people not being honest with one another, I think this is a plot much less reliant on individuals holding back key information for stupid reasons.

The world building continues to delight me as it did in Blythewood. Though I admit some curiosity as to how the Darklings wear clothing and hide their wings, I’m pretty much willing to roll with it, because the mythology is so interesting. The villain serves essentially as a stand-in for self-doubt, which I think is really cool. The shadows and darkness take people over through their weaknesses and fears. This makes the shadows a hard enemy to fight, because everyone has weak points that could be manipulated that way. In Ravencliffe, it becomes apparent that only by working together and trusting in those around you to continue to care can the shadows be held at bay.

For the history nerds, Goodman’s added in several more fun scenes in Ravencliffe. There’s a more in-depth look at the sinking of the Titanic, which actually took place in the previous novel. Then there’s a trip to Coney Island, which would be a lot more fun if you weren’t there to track down scary people. Finally, there’s the opening of the Woolworth’s building.

In book one, I mentioned some disappointment in the romance. On one level, I definitely continue to feel the same, but I also understand it more now. The Blythewood books are very couched in history. The girls in the novel are primarily from the upper classes and, at Blythewood, they all live in a world where they’re intended to marry someone chosen for them. As such, there’s not really a concept of dating. Much like in a lot of historical fiction, instalove is pretty much how most relationships happen. It’s still not my favorite trope, but it does fit fairly well with the setting. Plus, though romance is fairly pervasive, not much time is spent on sentiment. My favorite thing about Ravencliffe, though, was the introduction of a lesbian romance. All the bonus points. Even better, this one wasn’t instalove, but friendship to love. So freaking sweet.

More touching than the romances, I think, are the friendships. The whole group is forging connections and learning to trust. As I said, I think this is the crucial plot element. The fact that Helen, Daisy and Ava have gone from grudging roommates to true friends by the end of Ravencliffe is really nice. In Ravencliffe, the main characters all have to confront their internal demons, in order to maintain their friendships and to have the strength to fight evil. Similarly, I adore the forming bonds between the darklings and the humans.

If you liked Blythewood, I think you’ll be impressed by Ravencliffe. If you were unsure about starting the Blythewood series, I would advise you to give them a chance if you can handle the historical instalove, appreciate mythologies, and love historical settings. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Dec 16, 2014 |
4.5 stars

Despite there being a humongous cast of characters this go-round, which resulted in some of the newbies not being quite as well developed as I would have liked, I thoroughly loved this book. I adored getting to learn more about the Darklings (and meet more of them)and the rest of the mythology of this world. Goodman has a deft hand at weaving the major events of history in with this story, giving them a magical explanation.

The one true negative remark I can make against this book is that Goodman seems to be laying the groundwork for a dreaded love triangle. It seems that so many authors who have paired up their main character in the first book or a trilogy or series tend to add a second possible love interest in sequels as an easy way to add tension and conflict to the story. What I'd really rather see is the main character and the original pairing (in this case Raven and Ava)grow more in their relationship and learn how to work through difficulties that don't happen to be another guy sniffing around.

It's not as if Goodman didn't have enough material to work with, considering Ava was struggling to come to terms with the fact that she is half-Darkling, which would make her a monster to be killed in the eyes of the Order, and the evil threat they faced in the last book might not have been eliminated after all. Add to this the possibility that the Darklings might exile Raven for consorting with someone who is not fully his kind, then I'd say a love triangle a superfluous plot point, wouldn't you all?

All that aside, I am looking forward to the next book, which looks to incorporate the first World War, an oft neglected time period in YA literature (for some reason WWII seems to be the favored stomping ground). Hopefully, Ava will come to her senses and realize how good she has it with Raven and their mission to eradicate an evil from the world will go about unhindered by romantic melodrama. ( )
  Cailiosa | Aug 18, 2014 |
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To Nora, my history muse.
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When I'd decided to work at the Henry Street Settlement house for the summer, I'd been told that part of my job might entail navigating the Lower East Side tenement houses where our clients lived.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 067078477X, Hardcover)

Avaline Hall is no ordinary girl. 

She’s a student at Blythewood Academy, an elite boarding school that trains young women to defend human society from the shadowy forces that live among us.  After the devastating events of her first year at Blythewood, Ava is eager to reunite with her friends—and with Raven, the compelling but elusive winged boy who makes her pulse race. She soon discovers, though, that the sinister Judicus van Drood hasn’t finished wreaking havoc on Blythewood—and wants to use Ava and her classmates to attack a much bigger target.

Ava’s the only one with any hope of stopping van Drood. But to scuttle his plans, she must reveal her deepest secret to everyone at Blythewood. What’s she willing to sacrifice to do what’s right—her school?  Her love?  Or her life?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:19 -0400)

Seventeen-year-old Ava Hall continues to learn more about herself and her heritage through her work in a New York City settlement house as well as through her social obligations with the Blythewood girls.

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