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Melanie Karsak does it again! Highland Raven is a delightful mix of historical and fantasy that pulls inspiration from Shakespeare's Macbeth. The story centers on Lady Macbeth, before she ever took that name and is instead Gruoch MacAlpin the daughter of a royal bloodline and at the heart of magic from the Celtic gods.
Karsak has made her way onto my favorites list with her The Harvesting series, and are among my favorite audiobooks because of her care at picking amazing narrators who bring her stories to life. She doesn't disappoint with Highland Raven. I will admit to being somewhat hesitant with this one since it's a little different from her other novels, but that worry was pretty much pointless because I really think she knocked it out of the park with Highland Raven. We are given a chance to look at Grouch as she grows up and begins to learn that her fate has been set before her by the old gods, and that she is not only bound as a relation to the King but also by the old magics that still linger in the land. We get a surprising amount of religious strife as Christianity starts it's hold on the area and as those who still believe in the Celtic gods struggle to hold onto that heritage in the face of outright disapproval. Then there is the magic itself...I completely adored all the chapters in which Gruoch spent with the coven, as that is when we really start to see the Bard's work pulled in and weaved into the story-line in bits and pieces.
There was so much I wasn't expecting as far as the characters go. Grouch (Lady Macbeth) is portrayed as a power hungry woman who is completely lost to her husband's ambition in the original Shakespearean play, she pulls the strings behind his rise and we occasionally see the three fates at important moments lingering. In Highland Raven we see her as a woman who is placed with tremendous power and finds love not with Macbeth, but with Banquo. She is strong willed, curious, and glad to have this higher purpose, though the power behind her isn't one that allows for weakness or mercy. Then there is Sid...who is burdened with a gift of her own, but becomes a fast friend to Grouch and is completely delightful.
The narration, as a mentioned before, is perfection. Lesley Parkin does an excellent job with the reading and really makes each character stand out with a variety of different accents. She does read a bit on the slow side but she does have a pretty steady pace and a fantastic reading voice.
There is so much I wish I could talk about when it some to HR, but this review has gone on long enough already without adding in even more rambling about character development and fantastic scene setting. Karsak is definitely an author to keep an eye out for, and I really love her range. I'll be keeping up with this series for sure and I can't wait to see how Lady Macbeth handles the new revelation at the end of this book.
I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about Highland Raven?
I loved the author's imagination and knowledge with which she created a world and characters with which I got embedded.
What did you like best about this story?
What I liked best was the way the story portrayed life, that even with magic there are ups and downs and Cerridwen's ability to deal well with all.
What does Lesley Parkin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
I think the narrator gave the book a life that I could not have done by reading. Accent (because I am in USA), emphasis, passion...I can't imagine anyone else doing so well!
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
Yes, and I did. It was worth getting to work late
Any additional comments?
I anxiously await the next book. Quite a cliff-hanger about love and the next phase for her. I will listen again this weekend. There are some books that I just wish would never end.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful