Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blog Tour Review: The Raven Queen by Jules Watson

From the Back Cover:

In this dazzling retelling of one of Ireland’s most stirring legends, acclaimed author Jules Watson brings to life the story of Maeve, the raven queen, who is as fierce as she is captivating.

She was born to be a pawn, used to secure her father’s royal hold on his land. She was forced to advance his will through marriage—her own desires always thwarted. But free-spirited Maeve will no longer endure the schemes of her latest husband, Conor, the cunning ruler of Ulster. And when her father’s death puts her homeland at the mercy of its greedy lords and Conor’s forces, Maeve knows she must at last come into her own power to save it.

With secret skill and daring, Maeve proves herself the equal of any warrior on the battlefield. With intelligence and stealth, she learns the strategies—and sacrifices—of ruling a kingdom through treacherous alliances. And to draw on the dangerous magic of her country’s oldest gods, Maeve seeks out the wandering druid Ruan, whose unexpected passion and strange connection to the worlds of spirit imperil everything Maeve thought true about herself—and put her at war with both her duty and her fate.

My Review:

I really enjoyed this reimagining of an Irish legend and I absolutely loved Maeve. Maeve is such a fully fleshed-out heroine. She is fierce, intelligent, and unpredictable--struggling, grasping, fighting, desperate to protect her people, to prove herself and to earn true independence. Yet underneath her tough facade, she's extremely vulnerable. All her life she's been used and abused by men. She's frightened. She's full of self-doubt. Yet she's surprisingly sensitive and maternal. But she's surrounded by men to whom she dare not show any of these "weaknesses", men she wants to rule. She is continually challenged, and it's exhausting just to read about, so it's no wonder Maeve's health suffers as the stakes for her queenship grow higher. She finds unexpected solace in the company of Ruan, a mystical wanderer who, though he's blind, sees her as no one else has. But Maeve's rabid determination to become queen threatens to cost her everything, and when she finally comes to realize what is truly important to her, and what truly sets her free, will it be too late?

The Raven Queen is a mix of fantasy, history and romance, and it's brought to life in vivid Celtic detail. I love Ms. Watson's descriptive writing style, and the way she weaves the beauty of the natural world and the magic of the Source into the narrative and into the characters themselves. She has the marvelous ability to put the reader in the moment and make the reader feel that subtle magic, and it really helps lend some balance and peaceful moments to an intense, often violent story. Here's one of my favorite examples:

     For a time all was still, until a full moon broke over the hills. The lake-water flared into life. The reeds were tipped with silver, dipping and whispering. The streams and pools ignited into sheets of brightness. What had been clear in the day and empty in the dark now became something blurred. Gray. Silver. Indistinct. An in-between place.

See what I mean? Those moments of tranquility are a welcome diversion. There are many characters and several related storylines running simultaneously, and Maeve's precarious position is in a constant state of flux with one obstacle after another presenting itself, but the evolution of the story arc and the pacing are perfect throughout, and it all comes together flawlessly as the story reaches its conclusion.

When I'm reading, I love to escape into a different world and I like a good romance, but I also like to walk away feeling like I've learned something. Ms. Watson provides an interesting and detailed author's note describing the role Maeve has played in Irish myth and how she navigated the different versions of the legends to create her own tribute to Maeve. As a fan of fantasy and historical fiction, I thought it was great!

My Rating:  4.5 Stars out of 5

The Raven QueenAnd now you have a chance
to win your own copy of
The Raven Queen!

To enter, simply leave a comment with an email address. My Followers double their chances :) This giveaway is open only to US residents and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, March 12, 2011.

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected.
Check my sidebar for more great giveaways!

The Raven Queen blog tour continues through March 13--click here for the complete schedule and more giveaway opportunities.

Thank you to Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
for inviting me to participate!


  1. Great review...:) This does look like something I should enjoy. She sure does look fierce on the front cover...:D

    I would love to be entered in to win The Raven Queen! I am an old follower.

    Kelsey O.
    kopsahl48 AT gmail DOT com

  2. I have no prior knowledge concerning this Irish legend, but like you, I love a good story in which I also learn something. And, so glad you mentioned the detailed author's note - something I always appreciate in historical fiction.
    I am a Google follower and would love to win this novel. Thanks for the giveaway.

  3. Your review has me so excited! Thanks so much for the giveaway! I'm a follower.


  4. I have thoroughly enjoyed all of Jules Watson's books and so I really looking forward to this one!

    Don't enter me in the comp as I am not eligible.

  5. I have never read anything about Celtic legends so I'm excited for this book (and to read her prior book Swan Maiden). Thanks for the review - glad you liked it! Please enter me, I am a follower.


  6. Great review. This sounds like an interesting read.

  7. Fantasy, history, and romance are great traits for a book, especially in regards to Celtic mythology. :) Thank you for the wonderful review, Lady Q, and happy reading!


  8. I love it when authors blend different themes into a book as well as genres. This sounds like a fantastic read. I am very fond of Celtic lore. Thanks for the drawing.

    onebookshy at yahoo dot com

  9. I saw this on our GoodReads historical tour group and it sounded like something that I would enjoy. You're review confirmed it!! I love Celtic myths and also stories with strong female leads.

    Unfortunately, I'm not sure how to be a follower --- do I click on something>

    rammj99 at gmail dot com

  10. I have heard such great things about this book and am definitely excited to give it a try. I am a GFC follower (Colleen Turner).

  11. Thank you for a nice review. Don't count me in as I am overseas.

  12. I like the font used on the cover art.
    This sounds interesting. Thanks for the giveaway.
    I'm an old follower

  13. New follower here! I found you through this book tour. I want to read this book so bad! I love the romance and the setting!


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