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Raven Song: A Dystopian Fantasy (Inoki's…
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Raven Song: A Dystopian Fantasy (Inoki's Game)

by I. A. Ashcroft

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I ran into I.A. Ashcroft’s book Raven Song in the Goodreads group Making Connections and received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. I browsed for a title extensively because I’m only interested in reading books that wrap me up and I cannot ignore. This was the end result of better than an hour’s worth of prologue/ first chapter previewing. Who wants to pick a mediocre book and leave a bad review, after all? After browsing, I was hooked.

Jackson and Anna, our point of view characters, deal with magic in post-apocalyptic New York City. He’s a local, and an heir to a struggling currier service. She’s a science nerd who magically time traveled from our future even further forward.

Like I said, the prologue peaked my interest. When I read the first couple chapters I grew a bit hesitant. Anna’s hits the scene by chapter four and I’m hooked! As Ashcroft’s first novel, yes I did a bit of fanboy lurking after I finished the novel, the writer found narrative voice very early. On my first novel, I feel I hit that stride in the dead center of the book, so I’m very impressed! Even on my third novel I went back to the drawing board in order to secure the tone of the story. If you give this book a shot, and you should, don’t you dare set it down before you meet Anna.

I’m a fan of stories with more than one point of view character. Seeing things from more than one point of view is a great way for readers to discover the world for themselves. It’s like they get to hear about someone from a couple friends, and learn things in the process that neither directly said. Ashcroft nailed the idea in the character Frank’s description.

By chapter fourteen Jackson has also won me over. In chapter fifteen Ashcroft came through with bits of foreshadowing from Jackson’s childhood that I overlooked.

Ashcroft personification of the antagonist near the novel’s climax is haunting.

With a blend of martial arts experience and as a writer, I tend to dissect fight scenes. While I suspect that Ashcroft is not a martial artist, no offence intended dear author, the final fight is riveting!

I withheld the fifth star solely on the opinion that some of the prose was wordier than I prefer.

( )
  S_Shane_Thomas | Dec 30, 2016 |
*An eBook & Audio Review

You know you've done well when you jump in on two giveaways and win both, on the same book! When I received one newsletter announcing a new dystopian ebook- I said "Yes!". Then I was offered, by another newsletter the audiobook, Again, I said, "Yes" and I instantly began to salivate like one of Pavlov's dogs! I entered on one day and was downloading the next. That's like music to this book reviewer- erm... well maybe not music. You know what I mean!

Raven's Song is a dystopian fantasy, written by I. A. Ashcroft and is book one in an apparent series. I don't know much about Ashcroft but from what I've seen so far, he may not be too bad. The guy can write a story, but I was a bit torn on whether I enjoyed the read or not. I'll go into all that- first: the book cover.

The cover is cool- even a bit mysterious & magical, which fits the theme of this story. There's some serious strangeness too but it's Chicago. What can you expect? LOL (no offense). Though it's not one of those that automatically captures the eye, it is a nice cover. I can't say anything negative about. It's simple, yet perfection for the storyline.

The cover is cool- even a bit mysterious & magical, which fits the theme of this story. There's some serious strangeness too but it's Chicago. What can you expect? LOL (no offense). Though it's not one of those that automatically captures the eye, it is a nice cover. I can't say anything negative about. It's simple, yet perfection for the storyline.

The story is written from two POV's in third person. There's the main character, Jackson, who's backstory and development is written exceptionally well. He's got issues- like someone's poisoning him, he sees ravens everywhere and he's got people after him and he didn't do anything wrong! Then there's Anne. She was found stark naked and hasn't a clue where she is or when... Oh, and she has magical powers! In the first few chapters on her, she's tranq'd, kidnapped and imprisoned without a clue as to why! Due to they way they meet, they feel they need to stick together. They have so much in common: they have abilities that are unexplained and they are hunted.

Set in a futuristic, dystopian society where the world's been nuked and inhabitants are suffering radiation poisoning and mutations, it's hard to survive. New York residents dwell beneath a dome but it's not much protection. Those like Jackson and Anne are regulated by a group called The Order, but there's not much help there. With people after them, they have to find the reasons for their gifts and figure out the mystery behind a note written in crayon.

The story is not too shabby. I liked the characters, but there was so much confusion for the two main ones; I didn't know if I was coming or going with them. From Jackson's sleep-walking and insane dreams to Ann and where she came from and when she came. The tension never stopped with the story and it kept going and going, placing the characters in tighter and tighter situations. Some of which were a bit unreal- but that's fantasy for you.

​ I didn't like how I didn't get to know about the origin of the magical powers. I can't go into much detail because that would be offering up SPOILERS, but it would have been nice to know if they stemmed from radiation poisoning or not. I also didn't get to know who Inoki was. He's supposed to be running the show, according to the subtitle, but I was just left in a state of limbo.

I did enjoy the book and I think anyone who's in to characters that put you in mind of Harry Canyon (Heavy Metal) then this book is for you! This book is available in all versions, including Audible.com. I'm on to the next read!

For photos as well as the review: bit.ly/RavenSongNovel
Published by Lucid Dreams ( )
  AReneeHunt | Oct 31, 2016 |
My original Raven Song audiobook review and many others can be found at Audiobook Reviewer.

Raven Song by I.A. Ashcroft is the first novel in the series called Inoki’s Game. Jackson is a smuggler in a future world where the United States has been scorched by nuclear bombs. He has been a misfit all his life. Not only was he raised in a group home until adopted, he also has some type of mystical powers and he sees ravens that no one else sees and are supposedly extinct. On a smuggling mission for the government, Jackson finds Anna. Anna displays magical powers from the moment that he meets her. She wakes up with exuding radiation and with powers that she’s never had before. To hop it off, she is apparently displaced in time. Terrified, she must trust the people around her, rightly or wrongly, if she’s going to figure out what has happened to her. Together, Jackson and Anna fight to stay away from the clutches of the government and the magical consortium, the Order, to survive and live as normal lives as possible.

This story had a lot of potential and might still as the novels continue. The plot is an interesting mashup of dark fantasy and a dystopian world with a lot of different people and motivations interwoven. Ultimately, however, I felt that there were a lot of different parts of the plot that were introduced and continued to be hinted at, but none truly resolved. There is enough action in the story line to keep the attention of the reader as the characters were placed in bizarre and exciting situations and discovered little bits of information about the situations that they were in. I liked Jackson’s character quite a bit. He was practical, kind, and gritty. There was a lot of backstory provided about him, which really made him come alive. But I found Anna’s insistence on sticking to her ignorance, however realistic, annoying. Her backstory was also intriguing and I like the way that it was revealed. However, none of the mysteries in the story are solved, leaving the end of the novel seeming like a pause between books. There were different organizations, the government and their special division and the Order, and characters that could have been more clear. I also really found some of the supporting characters compelling and wanted to know more about them. Overall, I liked all the parts of the story, especially the crazy manic Tony, but the lack of resolution makes it hard for me to really love this novel.

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. I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes a dystopian fantasy series and characters who fight against the establishment.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author. ( )
  audiobibliophile | Jun 22, 2016 |
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