Friday, January 9, 2015

Ravencliffe by Carol Goodman + Giveaway!

by Carol Goodman
Read: December 10 - 12, 2014
Published:  December 2, 2014 by Viking Juvenile
Source: Hardcopy from publisher (THANK YOU, PENGUIN!)
Category: Historical Fantasy, Fae, 1910s
Series: Blythewood #2
Find: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | The Book Depository 

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?


Note: Ravencliffe is the second book in a series. I've tried very hard to make this review as spoiler free as possible for the series - at least anything major. I've hidden anything that I considered a major spoiler for the first installment, but please visit my review of Blythewood, if you are new to these books.  

Series set-up
In Blythewood Avaline Hall goes from poor factory girl working at the Triangle Waste Company (you can image how that ends) to meeting her wealthy grandmother and attending the elite Blythewood boarding school. Along the way Ava learns that fae and other magical creatures exist, and that she and the other girls at her school are charged with protecting the world against them. While there definitely are dark forces out there, especially those led by evil Judicious van Drood, Ava discovers that nothing is as clear as she's been told, even the school's history. When Ava realizes her own unique nature, everything she knew about herself and how she views the world around her changes. 

In the sequel Ravencliffe, Ava is much more confident in herself than she was in the first book. She has close friends and is excelling at Blythewood. However, Ava is still questioning what type of future she wants for herself, or whether she agrees with everything the school is doing. But Ava loves her place there and her friends, and she is afraid of what everyone will think when they discover her true nature. As the shadowy forces led, by van Drood, increase their evil activity once again, Ava must open up in order to bring everyone together to fight him. 

What I love -
Ravencliffe features all the same elements I loved about Blythewood, especially the historical fiction blended with fantasy. I couldn't wait to see what real moments from the past were hidden within the story. While I think the history woven into the first book was a little more striking than the sequel, mostly because of what happened during that time period, I had a lot of fun looking up places mentioned in this installment. For instance, Ava and friends visit Coney Island and go on the Steeplechase Ride, which sounded crazy - and dangerous - to me when it was described. But it was real! No way would it meet regulation today, however. 

Part of this story takes place in New York City, and part at Blythewood Academy in upstate New York. I enjoyed exploring more of the the city and country in 1912-13 America, and being back at school with Ava and her friends, Helen and Daisy. Ava also meets several new friends in this book, not all of them human. However, one of my favorite parts of Ava going back to school, and the whole book, was getting the chance to learn more about the Darklings. Ava spends a lot of time with Raven (yum!), but she also visits their home, and learns more about her connection to them. 

I really like the parts of the story where Ava explores the Darkling culture and mythology. Their 'job' or purpose is eerie and fascinating (highlight for spoiler), they offer comfort and bear witness to dying souls, and carry them to the afterlife.  Ava finds out about it in some intense ways, including one dream sequence. Ava also meets other Darkling besides Raven, one of whom greatly affects Ava. But of course, most of all I loved the growing relationship between Ava and Raven. It's super swoooony and there are some very delicious Darkling customs that are part of their courtship. They interact in a new way that is so fun to watch -(highlight for spoiler) Raven teaches Ava to fly. It was also easy to believe the seriousness of their conversations about their future in light of the time period. 

This series continues to explore the theme of dark vs. light, and in this installment, the frightening ways a weak mind can be overtaken. Van Drood is a dark and dangerous villain, and he has some genuinely frightening plans in the works. I enjoyed seeing groups that don't usually work together have to coordinate to succeed against him, and Ava realize that she might not have to choose one thing or the other. 

What I wish - I wish two aspects of this book had been different: 
First, I was disappointed with Ava at one point when I felt like she gave up on something too easily. However, that section also involves the major plot direction of the latter part of the story, and it seemed like the author wanted to stall for time for a while so the story could align it with an event that happened in history. Though that may be, it was hard for me to believe Ava wouldn't have done more than she did at the time. (Sorry that's all so vague!) 

Second, the growing relationship between Ava and Raven was lovely to watch and it was far less drama filled than I imagined from the descriptive copy. They are very certain about their feelings throughout the entire book. This is why I was so confused by Ava's sudden conflicted emotions about Nathan, which she mentions in one of the last scenes. Although it's clear Nathan cares for her as more than a friend, Ava's feelings for him have always seemed plutonic, and she has never been tuned into him like she is to Raven. It didn't make any sense to me and really worried me! I'm ardently hoping that it doesn't mean anything for the future. 

Final thoughts
Ravencliff begins in the summer of 1912 and takes place over about a year. Everyone knows the big event looming on the horizon in two short years! I'm excited, but also very nervous about the sequel Hawthorn. Besides my ever present fear of love triangles, I have enjoyed this series immensely. The history + fantasy is a winning combo; I've loved seeing Ava become her own person, and the romance is sweet and swoony. 

Love Triangle Factor: I'm going to be optimistic and say none. But I will admit to being a little worried about where book 3 will go. 
Cliffhanger Scale: Low - definite story to come, but ends in a good place. 



Win finished copies of both Blythewood and Ravencliffe

One person will be selected to win a finished copy of Blythewood + a finished copy of Ravencliffe
Giveaway is for US residents only (Sorry, international readers!)
You must be at least 13 years old to enter
See my policies HERE

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you Penguin Teen for the generous giveaway!


  1. Great review! I've been DYING to get my hands on these two books!! Thanks so much for the giveaway! :)

  2. Both of these books look like very good reads and I love the covers on them.

  3. These two books sound like fantastic reads. They seem to have great characters and tell an amazing story. I would love to read them. Thanks for having the giveaway.

  4. I've heard great things about this series! It seems to be a bit similar to A Great and Terrible Beauty (another blogger mentioned this), so I'm really excited to get my hands on these. Thanks for the giveaway :)

  5. I've never heard of this author before, but the books seem interesting.

  6. Huh, it's odd that the author would hint at a love triangle at the end of this installment! I definitely want to read these books as I love historical fantasy (which Libba Bray is so, so good at), so I know this is right up my alley but I think I'm going to wait to hear your verdict on the final novel before diving in. I'm a little too concerned about a potential love triangle and I'm always curious to see how a finale holds up for you. I know that if you enjoy the way a series ends, the chances are high that I'm going to love it too. Plus, these books seem utterly binge-read-able so I'll be excited to do that next year once all three are out. Wonderful review, Lauren! I love how detailed and comprehensive this is without spoiling anyway about the major plot lines. :)

  7. Omg I have heard such amazing things about Blythewood! Def excited for this!!
    Mary G Loki

  8. these books sound like I would definitely enjoy!!
    thank you for the giveaway!!

  9. I like boarding school stories with paranormal/fantasy elements. Reminds me a bit of Vampire Academy (sort of) which I loved, so I'm betting I'd love it! Thanks for the giveaway. :)

  10. Amazing review Lauren. <3 I'm glad you liked this book :) I haven't heard about this series before, and don't think I want to read them, but ohh. I do like those covers a whole lot. Gorgeous :D Thank you for the giveaway, even though I cannot enter, hah. <3 You are all kinds of awesome :) Thank you for sharing about this book sweetie. <3 I'm crossing my fingers for you that there will be no love triangle at all in book three :)

  11. I'd totally try out that steeplechase ride! Definitely looks dangerous, though. No way it'd be approved these days. Ava sounds like an interesting character and, though I think I'd get frustrated with her caving too easily at times, I could also understand it, as I tended to do that when I was younger.

  12. I'm dying to read this! It combines so many elements that I love!!

  13. I love historical fantasy, I've been wanting to read these books for a long time! Loved your review, I skimmed it because I wasn't sure if there were book 1 spoilers but you've definitely piqued my interest!! :)

  14. Go historical fiction! I especially love it when it's part fantasy/part historical. I read your review of Blythewood, just in case of spoilers, and I'm officially excited to read it in the future. I LOVE boarding school settings-even if they are cheesy or cliched. I'm more excited to hear you found the setting well done! And yeah for slow burn romance!! That is the best kind out there!

  15. I'm really enjoying this series too, although I'm not getting the love triangle vibe at all since I didn't interpret the end the same way you did (although it's been awhile since I read it so maybe I'm forgetting). I can't wait for the last one! ~Pam

  16. Blythewood took me by complete surprise last year, and I absolutely loved it. I have been craving Ravencliffe since I finished it, but I still haven't had the chance to read it. I am seriously hoping that I win this one giveaway, but I wish everyone else luck too! Thank you so much for the great giveaway!

  17. I want to live in these covers...


  18. (Alisha Sienkiel in rafflecopter)

    Great Review! I love historical fantasy so I will definitely check this out. :)


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