This novel did have real promise and I was utterly hooked for the first third of the story. It had a very dramatic start and Turid's impossible choice between duty and family was utterly heart wrenching. As Hrafn faced his responsibility and was forced into war, I was left really intrigued as to what would happen to him next.
However, the story had a number of problems which just became more and more apparent as I read. The prose is very clumsy and I suspect that the cause may be that the author does not speak English as a first language. The Vikings use a lot of modern words which sound very unnatural, sentences are structured strangely and words are frequently misspelled. These things all stacked up over time to make the novel rather difficult to read.
On top of this, the story has a rather large time jump between the first and second half and afterwards focuses on an entirely new character. While Hrafn does eventually re-enter the story, I found this shift to be jarring. It was almost as though two novels were compressed together and, because of this, the story felt rushed and lacking in detail. I think that it would have worked better if the tales were separated, allowing for the characters to receive better development and leaving more space for the relationship between Hrafn and Anna to develop (as it stands, they fall in love immediately at first sight).
All in all, the novel was intriguing and I'm curious as to how it will pan out but at the same time I hope that the sequel will receive a bit better editing that this instalment.
Raven Boy is the story of Hrafn, a twelve year old twin, who is pushed into the position of Viking `king' after his father is killed in battle with the `foreigners'. He was not the immediate choice for the position. His mother had to choose between her sons, her husband's brother, or herself. Unable to make the decision on her own she visits the rune caster for advice. She is shocked by the prophecy he gives her, as are the townsfolk. Her youngest son wastes no time in proving himself, first with a sword and then in battle with the foreigners, aided by the psychic link he has with his pet Raven. Hrafn's adventures continue and there is even some romance with the talented Anna.
So far, so good. I cannot fault the story. The magic is believable within the world Kei has created but - and it is, sadly, a humongous but - the standard of writing is such that reading to the end became a chore.
If the author used an editor she should have her money back. The tense changes within sentences, there are numerous spelling mistakes, the punctuation is poor and there are so many phrasal anachronisms - these young Viking lads call their mother "mom" - that it is next to impossible to remain immersed in the fictional world. And, let's not forget the exclamation marks! There are lots!
It's a real shame because the story is genuinely good. An editor would have been able to work with the author to knock the manuscript into the book it deserves to be.
I've been on kind of a Viking bender lately, being hopelessly addicted to Vinland Saga, so this was a nice addition to my reading list.
It's basically two different stories that only come together at the end. First of all there's Hrafn, a 12 year-old boy forced to become the leader of his father's band of Viking raiders as the result of a prophecy. The first half is more historical/action based, with fighting and plotting galore as Hrafn tries to adapt to his new role in life.
The second half is more epic fantasy in style, following the adventures of Anna, a girl with a mysterious past training to become a witch. The two stories meet up when Hrafn's band travels to Anna's country, and the two meet up and fall in love.
While there are occasional editing flubs, the author speaks about a million languages, so it's no big deal. I also really loved the index of name meanings at the end.