RogerBW's Blog

The Night Raven, Sarah Painter 02 July 2024

2017 urban fantasy, first of a series. Lydia Crow's parents got out of the magical Crow family business, and she went further, to Aberdeen to work as a private investigator. But now she's back in London and her Uncle Charlie definitely wants her back in…

There's a fair bit of series setup here, establishing the four great magical families of London (even if their power has faded a bit) and their specialisations. Charlie acts more like a crime boss than like a patriarch, giving Lydia a place to stay and just asking for this one small favour, looking for his missing niece, and after all she is a trained investigator…

Lydia is a bit of a failure, having tried various things in life but never really found something that she could stick to. She's also remarkably gullible and can't say "no" to save her life; and sufficiently hormone-driven that I was honestly expecting the fling she embarks on to turn out to have been magically set up in some way (but there's no evidence of it here). On the other hand, while she's not much in the way of magical talent, she's competent at the mundane business of investigation in a way that other magical family members haven't had to become. She also doesn't have their innate aversion to talking to the police.

I liked Lydia, but I found the actual investigation somewhat unsatisfying, doing as it does double duty in introducing what will clearly be some of the series' regular cast and ending with a scene that's action-packed but to me unsatisfying. Indeed, many of the big questions of the setting are deliberately left hanging for future books, and perhaps I'm a perfectionist but I feel it shouldn't be so obvious that that's what's happening.

In spite of that, I had a good time and I'll read more in the series.

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