The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland

The Raven's Head by Karen MaitlandRating: DNF
Format: Paperback
Published: 12th March 2015
Book Depository | Goodreads

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.

This book wasn’t bad. I just found it extremely boring. Normally I enjoy a good historical fiction and I did find parts of this to be really interesting. But it was way too long. I actually think I has this same problem with Karen Maitland’s other book The Vanishing Witch. It took forever for anything to happen, large parts of it seemed totally unnecessary to the plot. If you enjoy historical fiction maybe give this a try, parts of it were very good. But overall I didn’t like it.

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*I received a copy of this book from Headline in exchange for an honest review.


13 Responses to “The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland”

  1. Lynn Love

    I saw her books on Goodreads and have them on my ‘To Read’ list. So your review’s really interesting. It is a tricky one, though, because I loved ‘Wolf Hall’ and ‘Bring up the Bodies and I heard that many people had the same problem with these books- too slow and nothing happening. If I find one cheap, I might still be tempted, though 🙂

    • bluchickenninja

      This was a really difficult one to review, because I actually found it more interesting than The Vanishing Witch. But it also had more stuff that wasn’t necessary to the overall plot. Like it had an entire chapter about the main character getting on a ship back to Britain. There was another about how he is staying in an inn and doesn’t have any way of paying for it. Both of those things could have been summed up in a sentence, but we got a chapter about both. I like long books but this was just too long.

      • Lynn Love

        Strange and interesting, how these things weren’t picked up on during the editing process. It’s something that gets banged into you in- is it necessary, does it drive the story on and (as you say) could it be summed up in a few sentences instead of devoting a chapter to it? Odd. But then, I’ve just finished ‘Never let me go’ by Kazuo Ishiguro and the entire book is just short scenes, little instances, may of which seem insignificant on their own, but together seem to add up to something. Though, I guess ‘literary’ fiction can get away without much of a plot 🙂

        • bluchickenninja

          You would think stuff like that gets caught in the editing process but I don’t know. It just seems to be the way she writes. It does annoy me if I have to read pages and pages of pointless filler.

          I’ve heard of Kazuo Ishiguro but never read any of his books. Are they any good?

        • Lynn Love

          I did think Never Let Me Go was good, but condsidering the subject matter (a love triangle with death looming) not as involving as it should be. Remains of the Day is very good, though there’s an underlying coldness to it, which as it’s about unrequited love, could be seen as a problem. I tried to read The Unconsoled years ago, but unless you enjoy surreal, unresolved story threads and don’t mind not having a clue what’s going on, you might give up on it as I did! It’s supposed to be a comment on dreams and memory- it’s supposed to be humorous, I’ve recently learned, but I just found it maddening. Anyway, he is a very good writer for all that 🙂

  2. JohnRH

    Hmm. Not bad but boring. Sounds like my current struggle with Moby Dick. It’s neither bad nor boring but tedious and ponderous. Your DNF rating is Did Not Finish I presume? It may be mine for Moby Dick.


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