The Ravens Head by Karen Maitland | ARC Review

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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.

Chilling and with compelling hints of the supernatural, The Raven’s Head is a triumph for Karen Maitland, Queen of the Dark Ages.


The Raven’s Head is narrated by three characters; Vincent an apprentice of a librarian in the household of a powerful lord in favour of the King of France. In trying to improve his luck he tries bribe his master but it backfires and Vincent is forced to flee with a carved raven’s head that turns out to be far more dangerous than anything he has ever encountered. Regulas is a little boy who has been sold to the White Canons by his father in return for debts being paid. He soon learns after his arrival that things are not what they seem in the monastery and there is very dark things happening down in the dungeon below and Gisa is the apothecary’s assistant of her uncle who unintentionally catches the interest of the terrifying lord Sylvain who the local towns people believe is doing witchcraft. Her life turns downhill when Sylvain hires her as his apothecary and she gets thrown into another world.

Personally this book wasn’t for me and it took me a while to read it but a part from personal taste it is a great very well written novel set in the dark ages. Maitland is a fantastic world builder that really knows the times she is writing about which really brings together the atmosphere of the book and allows you to really imagine what it would be like for the characters that she has written so well.

My favourite character in this book was Fergus. For me he was really the unsung hero that took on the big brother role for Regulas, protecting and teaching him. Vincent annoyed me but he was supposed to. That was what was great about The Raven’s Head all the characters had real depth to their stories really immersing the reader in their fictional lives.

Finally although not my type of book it really is a well thought out all round great read. It actually reminded me a little bit of Game of Thrones. The book contains a lot of dark themes so if you were looking for a light read this book isn’t for you. However if you are looking for a fantasy/historical book then this one is perfect for you.

Finally, Thank you to Headline for giving me an ARC via NetGalley in return for an honest review.

Recommendation Level: 4.5/5

Pages: 480

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Fantasy


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