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Book Review: The Raven, by Sylvain Reynard

The Raven

By Sylvain Reynard

Publication Date: February 3, 2015

Review by Sarabeth Pollock

 

When the sun goes down in Florence, the Prince of Florence awakens.

In Sylvain Reynard’s novella The Prince, we met the mysterious Prince of Florence.  Now in The Raven we learn more about the mysterious Prince and we also meet a woman who captivates him in a most unexpected way.

It’s May of 2013 and the Prince of Florence has just retrieved his prized collection of illustrations from the Uffizi Gallery.  They’re not copies, as Professor Gabriel Emerson believes.  They’re original drawings by Sandro Botticelli, and they had been stolen over a century prior.  But just as the Prince is about to celebrate, he hears a woman’s screams and he smells blood.  The vampyre rushes off to make sure he’s the first one to find her.

Raven Wood is an art restorer at the Uffizi Gallery.  On this night she’s walking home from a party when everything changes.   A week goes by that she can’t remember.  Raven wakes up and is literally a completely different person on the outside.  She also discovers that the Uffizi has been robbed, and she’s at the top of the suspect list.  It isn’t helping things that her disability no longer exists and she looks like a completely different person.

In the meantime, the Emerson Family-Professor Gabriel Emerson, wife Julianne, and daughter Clare-have arrived in Florence as the police search for clues in the robbery.  Little do they know, they’re being watched by a dark presence who presides over Florence when the sun goes down.

The Raven is a departure from the paranormal romance genre in that while the love story between Raven and the Prince (whose true identity is revealed in the book) is a large part of the plot, there are many other elements that come to the fore.  Salvation, hope, redemption, faith…these all play a central role in the story.  There’s also the political system at work in the vampyre world; the Prince of Florence reigns over the Consilium, a council of vampyre elders who serve their Prince much like a presidential cabinet.  There are rumors of hostility from neighboring provinces that keep the Prince in a state of constant vigilance, and when he finds himself falling for Raven, he knows that she will always be a target among his kind.  However, the Prince finds that his Cassita is worth fighting for.

The best thing about having my own blog is that when I write a review, I can say whatever I like.  Normally I try to stay as objective as possible.  But not today.  I love this book.  This book appeals to me on so many levels.  I love the characters, I love the story, and I love how the story is woven within the history of Florence to such an extent that Florence herself has become a central character.  Sylvain Reynard’s writing is magical that way. I’m not even sure that paranormal romance is a suitable descriptor for this new series.  It’s literary fiction, with a splash of paranormal romance, intermingled with historical fiction.  The lush prose and vivid imagery are utterly captivating.  The only real comparisons I can draw to other authors in the genre who write with such attention to detail are Anne Rice and Deborah Harkness.  I have spent the past weeks imagining the Prince and Raven and wondering what will happen next.  It isn’t often that characters capture my imagination so thoroughly, but Raven and the Prince have.

I am eager to see what Sylvain Reynard has in store for his Florentine Series.

 

Click here to read Part One of my interview with Sylvain Reynard

Click here to read Part Two of my interview with Sylvain Reynard

Click here to buy The Raven

Click here to buy The Prince

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Interview with Sylvain Reynard, Author of The Raven, Part 2

Interview with Sylvain Reynard, Part 2….

I decided to publish this last segment of my interview with Sylvain Reynard after The Raven’s release.  I’m not a fan of spoilers, and while I don’t think there are spoilers in this interview, I wanted fans to have a chance to meet Raven and the Prince before reading this. So read on for more juicy tidbits from Sylvain Reynard….

(If you haven’t read Part 1 you can find it here)

 

The novella The Prince is followed by the full-length novel The Raven, in which we meet a young woman who finds herself thrust into the Prince’s world.  Raven is a very different character from Julia.  Both represent the epitome of goodness, but Raven finds herself with a man who (by all admissions and appearances) embodies darkness and, perhaps, evil.  How were you inspired to create her character?

When I began writing The Gabriel Series, there were two scenes that dropped into my head. First, the conflict in the classroom that opens “Gabriel’s Inferno,” and the scene in the orchard, which occurs a few chapters later.

 When I began writing “The Raven,” the scene that entered my mind fully formed was the scene in which Raven walks home after a party. I saw what she looked like, how she walked, and her entire history. I knew she was an artist and an art restorer, and that she was extremely intelligent, compassionate, and very creative.

Raven is a very intriguing character.  She’s brilliant but her confidence takes a hit from the frustration she feels with her self-image and her physical limitations. The Prince can’t understand why she feels the way she does about herself or her appearance, reflecting an interesting perspective on the changing perception of beauty over the centuries.  I’m sure that many readers will relate to her body image issues and appreciate that she’s not perfect.   What led to that particular aspect of Raven’s character?

As I mentioned, I saw her in my imagination fully formed, but I also intended her to be an atypical female lead. She doesn’t possess extraordinary physical beauty or bodily perfection and she isn’t thin.  She’s an attractive woman but much of her beauty comes from her character and her actions.

What’s next for the Prince and Raven?  

Thank you for asking. Readers will have a taste of the sequel to “The Raven” at the end of the book, because I’ve included a teaser.

 At the moment, I’m continuing to write the sequel and I can tell you that a lot of danger and adventure are coming their way. Please stay tuned …

To purchase The Prince, click here.

To purchase The Raven, click here.

Many thanks again to Sylvain Reynard for taking the time to do this interview!