Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Review: A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica by the "H Team" + Giveaway!!

"H Team": Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, S.J.A. Turney, and Russell Whitfield

Publication Date: November 17, 2015
Knight Media LLC
eBook & Paperback; 440 Pages

Genre: Historical Fiction


Britannia: land of mist and magic clinging to the western edge of the Roman Empire. A red-haired queen named Boudica led her people in a desperate rebellion against the might of Rome, an epic struggle destined to consume heroes and cowards, young and old, Roman and Celt . . . and these are their stories.

A calculating queen sees the sparks of revolt in a king’s death.

A neglected slave girl seizes her own courage as Boudica calls for war.

An idealistic tribune finds manhood in a brutal baptism of blood and slaughter.

A conflicted warrior hovers between loyalty to tribe and loyalty to Rome.

A death-haunted Druid challenges the gods themselves to ensure victory for his people.

An old champion struggles for everlasting glory in the final battle against the legions.

A fiery princess fights to salvage the pieces of her mother’s dream as the ravens circle.

A novel in seven parts, overlapping stories of warriors and peacemakers, queens and slaves, Romans and Celts who cross paths during Boudica’s epic rebellion. But who will survive to see the dawn of a new Britannia, and who will fall to feed the ravens?

What Did I Think About the Story?

I've never been a fan of short story collections in the past, but over the past year or so the author collaboration collections that have been coming out have really caught my fancy. While I've purchased A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii and Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion, A Year of Ravens is the first one I've read and, if this is any indication of what I can expect to find within those novels, I am in for a big treat!

A Year of Ravens is, as the synopsis states, a novel told in seven parts. Each part is written by a different author and concentrates on one or two main characters within the larger story arch. I find this process of building the story fascinating because the reader gets to see Boudica's rebellion from just about every possible side, giving a wider scope and appreciation for the bravery, sacrifices, alliances and loss that all of the characters experience. Another fun plus is the fact that many of the characters swing through other stories as well as their own, letting us see them from both within themselves and through the eyes of others. I can't think of a better way to get to really know a character and my only complaint would be that, after really getting to know and love some of them, I wanted a lot more of their story!

All of the stories within A Year of Ravens are wonderful, but I do have a few that ended up being my favorites.  The very first story, The Queen by Stephanie Dray, was my all time favorite. In it we meet Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes, a queen who, while very similar to Boudica in looks and strength, takes the opposite path by working with the Romans for the safety and security of her people. I ached for her as she continued to do what she saw as right for her people even as they began to rebel and hate her for doing just that. I found her determination in the face of their disgust so brave and commendable. I wanted so much more of Cartimandua's story and I can only hope (beg, maybe?) that Stephanie with give her a longer story to tell. The Queen also details the events that begin Boudica's year long rebellion, and what events those are!  The Slave by Ruth Downie was also brilliant, giving the reader the direct aftermath of the Roman's violent annexation of Boudica's lands through the eyes of Ria, a slave girl and half-sister to Boudica's daughters. It is a brutal, emotional and honest look at the Roman attempt to demonstrate their complete control over the Iceni tribe through abuse, rape and destruction. I found it hard to read at times but, at the same time, hard to look away from and the actions and emotions expressed in the story fermented for me the reasons for Boudica's rebellion against  the Romans. The Warrior by Kate Quinn shows us the final battle of the rebellion through the eyes of Duro, Boudica's grizzled right-hand warrior and  his Roman slave, Valeria, wife of the Roman procurator who's actions precipitated the rebellion to begin with. Watching the proud Iceni warrior and the even prouder Roman lady spar, both verbally and physically, was both informative and entertaining and I couldn't help but develop a grudging appreciation for Valeria by the end of the story. It also brings Duro and his son, Andecarus, together again on the battlefield, which I have to admit brought tears to my eyes. I've always loved Kate's writing and this story just cemented that appreciation.

A Year of Ravens is a remarkable story collection and one that has me desperate to know more about Boudica, Cartimandua and so many other people from history that I was either not aware of before or only vaguely so. There is just so much to appreciate within the story, especially the fact that these seven separate authors were able to meld their individual parts together into a seamless, entertaining and emotional story. I can't think of anything that it doesn't encompass, from history to love to ending a military career on the battlefield to coming-of-age within violence and sacrifice, everyone can find something to appreciate here. I'm excited to read more from each of these authors and look forward to reading more compilations such as this.


What Did I Think About the Cover?

You know, I can't say I loved it at first but, the more I look at it and after reading the story, it has really grown on me! We've got our fierce female warrior Queen Boudica, raven tattoo and all, against a vicious red background that perfectly represents the blood and battle within, as well as the prophetic ravens above. I also think it's a great idea to showcase each author's name so prominently (instead of, say, having the font smaller or have it just say "H Team" or something) because, for me, one of the big draws to reading this collection is the fact that I've read and really enjoyed novels by E. Knight, Kate Quinn and Vicky Alvear Shecter before.  Not being a huge fan of short story collections, the fact that I've already enjoyed some of these authors before gave me that extra push needed to pick it up and get reading. And I'm so glad I did!

My Rating: 4.0/5.0

Thank you to Amy at Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours for providing me with a free copy of A Year of Ravens in exchange for an honest review. Be sure to continue below for more information about the book, the rest of the blog tour and how to enter the tour-wide giveaway!

Buy the Book 


The H Team Authors

L to R: 
Ruth Downie, Stephanie Dray, E. Knight, Kate Quinn, Vicky Alvear Shecter, S.J.A. Turney, & Russell Whitfield

Giveaway Time!!

During the Blog Tour we will be giving away a Celtic inspired set of silver tone metal and red Swarovski crystal beads, including a necklace, bracelet, and earrings inspired by the setting of A Year of Ravens! Please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form found HERE.


Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on December 18th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
Giveaway is open to residents in the US and UK.
Only one entry per household.
All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.
Good Luck!!

A Year of Ravens Blog Tour Schedule

Friday, November 13

Kick Off at Passages to the Past

Saturday, November 14

Guest Post at A Bookish Affair
Spotlight at Historical Fiction Connection

Sunday, November 15

Review at Book Babe

Monday, November 16

Review at Flashlight Commentary

Tuesday, November 17

Review at Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, November 18

Guest Post at Let Them Read Books
Interview at Unabridged Chick

Thursday, November 19

Review at Kinx’s Book Nook
Review at A Bookish Affair

Friday, November 20

Review at

Monday, November 23

Review at Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday, November 24

Review at The Maiden’s Court

Wednesday, November 25

Review at A Book Drunkard

Friday, November 27

Review & Excerpt at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

Monday, November 30

Review at Ageless Pages Reviews

Tuesday, December 1

Review at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Wednesday, December 2

Interview at Griperang’s Bookmarks

Thursday, December 3

Review at Book Nerd

Friday, December 4

Spotlight at The Never-Ending Book

Saturday, December 5

Review at Bookramblings

Monday, December 7

Review at Just One More Chapter

Tuesday, December 8

Review at Book Lovers Paradise

Wednesday, December 9

Review at I’m Shelfish

Thursday, December 10

Review at Boom Baby Reviews

Friday, December 11

Review at Historical Readings & Reviews

Monday, December 14

Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective

Tuesday, December 15

Review at CelticLady’s Reviews

Wednesday, December 16

Review at A Literary Vacation
Guest Post at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Thursday, December 17

Review at The True Book Addict
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

Friday, December 18

Review at Broken Teepee
Review, Excerpt, & Interview at Unshelfish


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