The Raven's Wing: Book Review

Claudia finds herself sent to the city to live with her father and his family that she barely knows. She finds she isn't quite the right fit and then people start dying...

Title: The Raven's Wing
Author: Frances Watts
ISBN: 9780733332913

Classification: Fiction
Type: YA historical / murder mystery
Themes: murder, Ancient Greece, mystery

What's it about?
This is the story of Claudia, the daughter of a senator who has had nothing to do with her until her 15th birthday when he sends for her to join him. She finds herself living the wealthy life in Rome with her father, stepmother, and stepsisters - occasionally joined by her stepbrother. When a friend of Claudia's late brother comes to visit, her father is keen to adopt him into the family and so he is quickly engaged to the elder stepsister...who then dies...and then it is revealed as murder.

  • The references to Rome and the lifestyle allow for a glimpse into how unequal the classes were. 
  • The story moves well from about halfway through to the end.

  • Love is everywhere. Even I found it a little hard to digest that they all loved Claudia...when I didn't. 
  • There are long, and many, descriptive paragraphs at the beginning of the book which slow it down. They are unnecessary and it leads to boredom. 
  • Romance in general - can't see boys jumping for this one.

My Thoughts
I borrowed this book from the local library - not because I thought I wouldn't like it but because I had a hard time finding it to buy. I wanted to like this book. I liked The Peony Lantern by the same author. I can't say I loved this book, not even liked...tolerated maybe.

The main issue I have with this novel is that the first half is so long and so tedious with the descriptions. When the kidnapping scene finally appeared towards the end of the novel I suddenly realised I had forgotten all about that at the beginning. Any guy just loved Claudia...instantly...and she loved them...sometimes. I like a good romance in a story but this was just ridiculous. At the very least the blonde-haired brother of her friend "liking" her could have been written out and that scene replaced with someone else. It was annoying. It was unnecessary. Much like the first half of the book.

It did pick up pace after the sister was murdered...but even I had it worked out well before the end of the novel. Speaking of the end...I liked it...I mean, it's the end the story was always going to have but...again, it is all a little lacking in general. More attention should have been on character development and less on descriptive paragraphs telling me about Rome. At least this is one area the author has improved on with her second novel.

Thinking of using it in the classroom? No way! The dragging story pace and over the top romance/love interests in my mind say that this is a no-go for the classroom. Any redemption of discussing the interesting facets of everyday life for the wealthy in Rome is canceled out by all the love and puppy-dog eyes.

If you are bored...then give it a go. Have a teenage daughter who likes romance? Then borrow it from the library for her. Apart from that, I say get a copy of The Peony Lantern instead.

EDIT 1st August 2016: Okay, I'm going to admit I went back and reread this book despite myself. There were enough bits of good writing to at least give it a second go.


Other books by Frances Watts

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