Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Review: "Ravenwood" by Nathan Lowell

Author:  Nathan Lowell

After reading other reviews of "Ravenwood" I decided to download it and give it a try as my preferred listening option on the commute to and from work. The author, Nathan Lowell was a far superior narrator his own story than others to whom I had listened and, though the plot developed slowly, I was happy to listen further to the pleasant reading.

I have to admit I was at a loss as to the time and place that Tanyth, the main character, inhabited. At once, it seemed to be the past but I could not figure the exact time or even a location and this niggled me - just a little. After a while, however, I settled into her story and as new characters were slowly introduced I felt more and more comfortable.

The story centres around Tanyth, a woman who travels (on foot) from place to place learning from the wiser of her sex about herbs - growing, eating and medicinal applications. To keep herself safe she travels dressed as a man and it is clear, almost from the start, there is something in Tanyth's past which has led to this path; her history is glimpsed occasionally as the story develops.

On her way to meet another wise woman, Tanyth finds herself in a hamlet of young people who seem a little out-of-place. As one of their number falls ill, Tanyth skills are called for. Eventually the residents convince Tanyth to stay over the winter before resuming her travels and teach two of the community's number to do for themselves, their own healer having passed away. Tanyth finds herself undergoing personal changes in the hamlet, as the residents and their activities come under scrutiny from undesirables.

"Ravenwood" is peppered throughout with rituals which have their basis in wicca and paganism; some of this feels a little forced, whereas the herbal lore easily slips into the storyline. It also contains a fair bit of violence, and I found it difficult to listen to one section near the end of the story in which the author describes some wounds rather graphically. Nathan Lowell is very descriptive, but not overly so, to the point where a picture is easily built within the mind. He manages to create the environment and atmosphere of Ravenswood, slowly but surely, and eventually you fall into Tanyth's world only to be disappointed when you finally leave, all the while hoping that you will one day be able to return. Nathan Lowell has indicated this is part one of further adventures of Tanyth Fairport and I, for one, will be listening again.

Rating: 4/5.

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