Raven Wood spends her days at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery restoring fine works of Renaissance art. But an innocent walk home after an evening with friends changes her life forever. When she intervenes in the senseless beating of a homeless man, his attackers turn on her, dragging her into an alley. Raven is only semi-conscious when their assault is interrupted by a cacophony of growls followed by her attacker’s screams. Mercifully, she blacks out, but not before catching a glimpse of a shadowy figure who whispers to her…
When Raven awakes, she is inexplicably changed. She returns to the Uffizi, but no one recognizes her and more disturbingly, she discovers that she’s been absent an entire week. With no recollection of the events leading up to her disappearance, Raven also learns that her absence coincides with one of the largest robberies in Uffizi history – the theft of a set of priceless Botticelli illustrations. When the baffled police force identifies her as its prime suspect, Raven is desperate to clear her name. She seeks out one of Florence’s wealthiest and elusive men in an attempt to uncover the truth about her disappearance. Their encounter leads Raven to a dark underworld whose inhabitants kill to keep their secrets…
The Raven is the first book in Sylvain Reynard’s The Florentine Series. It is about art restorer Raven Wood, who finds herself entangled with a mysterious person named “The Prince” and discovers the underworld of Florence. It can be read alone or read after Sylvain Reynard’s The Gabriel Inferno Series
The Raven is one of my most awaited books for this year. And it was well worth the wait. What I loved the most about it are the characters, Raven Wood and The Prince. They are well carved and fleshed out. More real than any other I’ve met, Raven Wood is not perfect. She doesn’t have an hourglass figure and she is even “mildly disabled” and Reynard uses this to make her personality come out. Raven is kind, selfless, humble, courageous and would stop at nothing to protect those who need protecting. I cannot praise her enough. She has accepted her physical condition and although she is resigned to the belief that she will forever be alone, “she took secret delight in the love life of others, specially her friends”. So when she meets The Prince, his undeniable attraction to her surprises her greatly.
The Prince is the other half of the pair. Deeply shrouded in mystery, he is ruthless and vengeful and keeps the Principality of Florence under his tight rule. He is loyally followed and feared but inside, we see the things that trouble his soul (if vampyres have souls) and is looking for more meaning. So when he rescues the girl with the beautiful face and green eyes, his attraction to her greatly confounds him and everything in him begins unravels.
The Raven is one of my favourite reads for this year. Like a true first book, it introduces, answers and adds a few more questions. The Gabriel Inferno series was a truly wonderful read but Sylvain Reynard has grown so much more as a writer since and I can’t help but say that The Raven is one of his best works so far. His writing is captivating and romantic, exciting and terrifying. Coupled with and a tight plot and extensive research, he crafts a mysterious and absolutely believable word where the underworld of Florence exist, where ferals, hunters and ancient (but handsome) vampyres live. It is the beginnings of redemption, atoning for past sins and finding the beauty within. And yes, we get to see Prof. Emerson, Julia and some of the other characters of The Gabriel Inferno series. Sylvain even included a few Easter eggs in the mix, as a treat to his older fans. Daunting is a word I keep hearing when an author writes in a new genre. But it seems that it isn’t even in Sylvain Reynard’s vocabulary and I can’t wait to prowl the evenings of Florence again with him.
Book 1, Gabriel’s Inferno
Buy link: Amazon
Book 2, Gabriel’s Rapture
Buy link: Amazon
Book 3, Gabriel’s Redemption
Buy link: Amazon