Science fiction and fantasy
Master Of Crows
by Grace Draven
Martise is consistently described as plain by everyone around her, although she has an extraordinarily attractive voice. It's a fairly unusual choice for a romance. She is also believed to have a magic Gift, which could mean anything since at the beginning of the story her magic has yet to show itself in any way whatsoever, despite her years of study.
The romantic part of the story is a slow burn. The story has some faint echoes of Beauty and the Beast, more to do with the emotions it evokes and the cursed setting than in its exact plot points. The narrative alternates between Silhara's point of view and Martise's.
Silhara's household is made up of a large dog and a giant mute servant called Gurn, as well as being surrounded by crows. Martise is quick to befriend Gurn and the dog Cael as she settles in. Yet she doesn't get to settle for very long because they are soon involved in dangerous missions, or travelling to various places where they tend to get into trouble and make disturbing discoveries. All the while they are trying to keep secrets from each other.
Smouldering looks fill the pages and pent-up sexual tension grows chapter by chapter. As a result of some revelations, the story builds up to difficult choices for our main characters and a showdown with the forces of evil. The god Corruption is determined to take possession of Silhara, and it will take a major sacrifice for the mage to beat him and keep the rest of the world safe.
In between highly charged magic battles and steamy romantic scenes, Grace Draven has found ways to include Silhara's friends and family in a way that makes him seem more human and rounded, with extended family who have cultural differences to the one Martise is used to. The book is full of domestic descriptions that lend the story a cosy feel, contrasting with the death and mayhem on other pages.
In spite of a few twists later in the story, Master Of Crows isn't unpredictable. It's a feelgood book designed to lift the reader's mood. Even when the characters are in danger, there is something comforting about the way each crisis draws the main characters closer together. The story is neither an intellectual challenge nor a gritty cautionary tale. Instead, it delivers on moments of sweetness, lust, and high adventure to create an enjoyable experience full of feeling.
26th May 2020
If you like this, try:Sebastian by Anne Bishop
An incubus takes a journey into the darkest corners of his own heart.