Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra | #BookReview #Fantasy #mythology

In Rati Mehrotra’s YA fantasy novel Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove, a young guardswoman struggles with her unwitting role as a major pawn in the deadly games between two kingdoms in a monster-infested alternate medieval India.

Bound to the queen of Chandela by a forbidden soul bond that saved her when she was a child, Katyani has never fallen short of what’s expected of her—becoming the best guardswoman the Garuda has ever seen and an advisor to the crown prince when he ascends to the throne. But when the latest assassination attempt against the royals leaves them with a faceless body and no leads to the perpetrator, Katyani is unwillingly shipped off to guard the Chandela princes in Acharya Mahavir’s esteemed monastic school in Nandovana, a forest where monsters have roamed unchecked for generations.

Katyani wants nothing more than to return to her duties, especially when the Acharya starts asking questions about her past. The only upside of her stay are her run-ins with Daksh, the Acharya’s son, who can’t stop going on about the rules and whose gaze makes her feel like he can see into her soul. But when Katyani and the princes are hurriedly summoned back to Chandela before their training is complete, tragedy strikes and Katyani is torn from the only life she has ever known. Alone and betrayed in a land infested with monsters, Katyani must find the answers to her past so she can save what she loves and forge her own destiny.

Bonds can be broken, but debts must be repaid.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove by Rati Mehrotra is a YA Epic Fantasy based on India’s folk lore and mythology. Katyani, an orphan, grew up in the royal household of Chandela. Once she discovers her true identity, her world spins out of control, and she becomes in danger of losing everything and everyone who has ever meant anything to her.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):

I’m curious about the Indian influences in this fantasy. I’m not very familiar with the folklore and mythology of India, so I’m looking forward to learning more about it. The absolutely gorgeous cover catches my eye, too!

Actual Reading Experience:

I loved that I was pulled in immediately to this foreign fantasy world. The sights and sounds enticed me to forget about the outside world and enjoy the story. Which I did happily. I also loved learning more about folklore and mythology that I didn’t already have any knowledge of. It is fascinating and beautiful.

I also enjoyed the shocking twists that round out this highly adventurous story. An overriding mystery must be solved, and I never once suspected the culprit. A good mystery with surprising twists and turns is even more than I could have ever hoped to be a large part of the plot.

But the biggest strength of this story rests in the characters, and I will go more into that below.

Characters:

Katyani is the main character of this story. She is everything I love in a heroine: intelligent, determined, and physically able to defeat her adoptive brothers. She never backs down, and she never gives up. But yet, she’s also sympathetic and relatable. 

All of the characters are well-developed, even most of the support characters. Each character’s layers are pulled back and explored as the story unfolds. Since the story is a mix of character-driven and plot-driven, this level of development is needed and is delivered.

Narration & Pacing:

The story is told using third-person narration that is focused on Katyani. This is the perfect way to tell the story to ensure that the world is built fully and

immersively. But focusing on Katyani gave it that more personal touch needed to tell her story. The pacing is medium to fast, which is a pace I always love.

Audiobook Narration:

I enjoyed the audio narration by Zehra Naqvi. I read the book’s first half, then switched between listening and reading the second half. The narrator’s slight Indian accent perfectly fits the Indian influences in the story. I loved hearing the correct pronunciation of names and words that I was butchering in my head. Naqvi did not have distinctive discernable voices for the different characters, so sometimes dialogue became confusing. Otherwise, I loved the narration pace and quality.

Setting/World-Building:

This story is set in a fantasy world called Chandela, which resembles medieval India. The world-building is phenomenal, and it pulled me in immediately with all its beauty and exoticness. Plenty of sensory descriptions allowed me to experience this land fully and completely.

What It Reminds Me Of:

This story is like none other than what I have read.

Read it if you like:

  • Epic Fantasy with a strong female lead
  • Incredible world-building
  • High-stakes adventure
  • Court maneuvering and political schemes
  • The mythology and folklore of India

Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫(4.75)

Originality8
Writing Quality10
Pace10
Character Development8
‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness10
Use of Setting8
All scores, except the overall rating, are on a scale of 1-10. The overall rating is converted to the standard 5 point system.

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