Books

Book Review: The Raven (2020)

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A post-apocalyptic story that is also truly a horror, The Raven from Flame Tree Press is an action-packed story of survival.

Fearing that mankind is heading toward nuclear extinction, a group of geneticists unleash a plot to save the world. They’ve discovered that mythological creatures such as werewolves, vampires, witches, and satyrs were once real, and that these monstrous genetic strands are still present in human DNA.

These radical scientists unleash the bestial side of human beings that had been dormant for eons, and within months, most people are dead, and bloodthirsty creatures rule the earth. Despite the fact that Dez McClane has no special powers, he is determined to atone for the lives he couldn’t save and to save the woman he loves.

But how long can a man survive in a world full of monsters?

 

I really enjoyed this book. If you like your post-apocalyptic novels more on the horror side, this will definitely appeal to you.

The setting is one we know and love: social and economic collapse, mass extinction of humanity, and people eking out a living in small groups or on their own. As such, it has a real zombie-like feel to the setting, but instead of the undead, we get monsters. And these monsters are vicious and truly horrific. The first quarter of the novel is riveting – it had me reading well into the night with wide eyes.

 

The rest of the novel follows at a slightly slower pace but with plenty of action scenes. One of the best things about it is that we don’t get a huge info-dump about the different monsters: we, the readers, often stumble across new ones as the story progresses. This kept those aspects fresh and exciting.

I appreciated that the novel provides a simple, pseudo-scientific explanation for the supernatural aspects of the story but didn’t belabor it. It’s quite easy to accept the world-building.

The action/horror scenes are unapologetically violent but don’t stray into torture porn, which is sometimes a hard balance to strike. As soon as I saw “satyrs” were one of the monsters, I was worried about the inclusion of sexual violence, but all instances of that occur off-page.

Unfortunately, I didn’t care much about Dez. While there was an attempt to give him some depth, it was mainly by showing what he had lost in his life and some of his choices didn’t make sense to me. In general, he felt like a generic protagonist and his motivation, to rescue his girlfriend, wasn’t very compelling as we don’t know or care about his girlfriend.

Yet, the book is less about him and more about the action, so I had trouble putting it down. Janz really excels in his twists and turns, and there were some great ones in this book.

Overall, I really enjoyed it and highly recommend you give it a shot! It’s a thoroughly engrossing, gore-splattered romp through a horror-monster-infested world that doesn’t feel like every other vampire/werewolf/etc story. It’s clear the novel is pointing out that the worst aspects of human nature aren’t really what we turn into but who we are to begin with.

 

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T. S. Beier is obsessed with science fiction, the ruins of industry, and Fallout. She is the author of What Branches Grow, a post-apocalyptic novel (which was a Top 5 Finalist in the 2020 Kindle Book Awards and a semi-finalist in Hugh Howey's 2021 Self-Published Science Fiction Competition) and the Burnt Ship Trilogy (space opera). She is a book reviewer, editor, freelance writer, and co-owner of Rising Action Publishing Co. She currently lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband, two feral children, and a Shepherd-Mastiff.

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