'The Flight of the Ravens' is apparently Chris Butler's first published novella. On this evidence, I hope he writes many more.
The story is set in Amsterdam in the final decade of the 19th century, and follows the fate of Elizabeth, a young woman who saw her best friend Bernard consumed by a monster when they were children. Since then she has learned all she can of magic, preparing for the day when the monster returns and it falls to her to avenge Bernard's death. She is aided in her quest by Bernard's father Huginn, a man whose name reflects his interest in the ancient Norse legends of Odin's two ravens, Huginn and Muninn. But when a handsome stranger called Lukas appears on the scene and sweeps Elizabeth off her feet, Huginn gets suspicious. Who is Lukas, and what is his real interest in Elizabeth?
The story is gripping from start to finish; I read it in a single sitting. Both Elizabeth and Huginn are brought to life on the page, and the supporting cast - including a guest appearance by Dr Sigmund Freud - are deftly drawn too. The plot uses an interesting mix of Norse legend and horror tropes to good effect, and the ending was not what I had expected.
The book itself is another nice production from the small genre publishers Immersion Press, who should be congratulated both for the quality of the hardback and the excellent reproduction of Charles Harbour's cover image.
If you enjoy reading novellas and are looking for something out of the ordinary, give this a go. You won't regret it.