Intrigue and enchantment in a cursed kingdom
The Raven Heir by Stephanie Burgis
Stephanie Burgis has been one of my favourite literary discoveries of 2021 and I've actually read more books by her this year than by any other author! It all started with the magnificent A Most Improper Magick which is the first in a Regency-era middle-grade series full of magic, mischief and manners. After reading all the books in the trilogy and the novella that came after it, I moved on to Snowspelled. This is Volume I of The Harwood Spellbook and actually for adults but also wonderful.
I've just finished The Raven Heir and as happens every time I begin something written by Burgis, I read it in 24 hours. Although its tone is more serious than the other books I've read by this author, it's no less magical or compelling. The main character, Cordelia, is one of a set of triplets who may be the successor to a poisoned throne. To protect her children from a deadly fate, their enchantress mother had hidden them away in a forest and kept their origins and history a secret. When danger arrives on their doorstep, Cordelia and her siblings Rosalind and Giles are suddenly flung into the wilderness to fend for themselves.
They each have innate strengths and magical abilities but Cordelia's are the most pronounced. She is a shape-shifter who can transform into any animal. By turning into ferocious creatures, Cordelia can defend her family from everything but the truth. But who is the heir and will they heal past harms before it's too late? Burgis is a master at creating complex characters who struggle with their magical talents and their consequences. Her protagonists battle the urge to use or suppress their skills, and rebel against the limits placed upon them by the society they inhabit. With fairy tale elements and Shakespearean qualities, The Raven Heir is a rich and atmospheric story full of intrigue, treachery and sorcery. It's perfect for reading beside the fire on winter nights. I hope there are more books about these characters on the way, in the meantime, I'm off to read The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart!
Thanks so much to the lovely people in Bloomsbury for sharing this book with me - all opinions expressed are my own.
About the author:
Stephanie Burgis grew up in America but now lives in Wales with her husband, fellow writer Patrick Samphire, their two sons, and an extremely vocal tabby cat. Stephanie is also the author of A Most Improper Magick/Kat Incorrigible and the Tales from a Chocolate Heart books. And she writes romantic historical fantasy novels and novellas for adults (the latest of which is Moontangled). For exclusive previews of new stories and books, sign up for Stephanie's newsletter (stephanieburgis.com/newsletter) and see more of her work on her website. #middlegrademagic