Review | The Raven’s Head – Karen Maitland


  • Paperback (Headline, 480 pages)
  • First published 2015; this edition published 2015
  • Rating on Goodreads: 2 stars
  • Buy the book here
  • Review copy courtesy of Bookbridgr

“Vincent is an apprentice librarian who stumbles upon a secret powerful enough to destroy his master. With the foolish arrogance of youth, he attempts blackmail but the attempt fails and Vincent finds himself on the run and in possession of an intricately carved silver raven’s head.

Any attempt to sell the head fails … until Vincent tries to palm it off on the intimidating Lord Sylvain – unbeknown to Vincent, a powerful Alchemist with an all-consuming quest. Once more Vincent’s life is in danger because Sylvain and his neighbours, the menacing White Canons, consider him a predestined sacrifice in their shocking experiment.”

Having loved Karen Maitland’s The Vanishing Witch, I was so happy to receive a review copy of her newest novel. Ravens, death, magic, and medieval history – what’s not to love?

Unfortunately, love I didn’t. Unlike The Vanishing Witch, The Raven’s Head lacks pace, and the numerous viewpoints make it very confusing rather than entertaining. The characters lack decent personalities, and aren’t very well fleshed out. True, there are certain passages and phrases that are beautifully written, but overall I just couldn’t get into the plot, or feel for the characters.

What bothered me most was just how slow it was. It took ages to get anywhere, and it just dragged and dragged. Nothing exciting seemed to happen, and by the end of it I just didn’t care.

I can’t deny that Maitland is a good writer, given how great The Vanishing Witch is – but The Raven’s Head, sadly, isn’t her best. If you’re looking for a medieval-era piece of fiction with a touch of magic, avoid this one.


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