Holly Carver is a small-time witch who busts ghosts for tuition money, but she ends up wrangling a demon when a haunted house job goes bad. Her Undead business associate, Alessandro Caravelli, suspects the demon is somebody’s not-so-secret weapon. The supernatural community is at war, and Holly’s unpredictable magic holds the key to the doorway to the demon realms. Soon Holly is on everyone’s must-have list, and not in a good way.
I picked up Ravenous by Sharon Ashwood because I liked the sound of the blurb. I tried to ignore the front cover. (Seriously? Who wears clothes like that, while delicately fingering the hilt of a blade?) The idea of a ghost-busting witch seemed interesting and entertaining, and by midway through the first chapter, I was hooked. My thoughts went something like this:
Chapter 1: This is great. Holly is a really interesting character, strong but not aggressive, and it’s such a novelty to see a vampire in the supporting role rather than in the spotlight, so to speak.
Chapter 3: Pure awesome. A witch fighting a house for possession of the souls of a group of frat boys, while a vampire played keep-away with sentient black goo, leading to great sentences like: Let the vampire play with the slime monster. She had civilians to save.
Chapter 4: A sudden jolt. The point of view switches from Holly to Alessandro. I can see why it was necessary, but it’s a bit jarring. Although that may just be because I’ve been reading a lot of 1st person narrators lately.
Chapter 7: Two chapters of Alessandro’s POV. He’s interesting, but I wanted a witchy novel, not a vampy novel. I don’t care about the vampire court, I want to know what Holly’s doing.
Chapter 9: WTF? What’s with all the insane sexual tension? Ooooh. Oh. Oh! Right. This is paranormal romance. How the heck did I miss that?
At this point, I put the book down for a few days. It’s not that I don’t like reading outside my own genre, you understand, it’s just that paranormal romance really doesn’t do it for me. Especially with a vampire as one of the obviously-going-to-make-it couple. I put it on the ile of books near my bed, and started thinking about what to read next.
I kept thinking about it. I kept thinking about Holly. I kept thinking about the strange psychic injury she sustained as a child that stopped her from being able to cast capital-M magic without being in excruciating agony. I kept thinking about her magical house, and the giant mouse-demon she fought. I kept thinking about… Well, the whole book.
So I picked it back up, and devoured the rest of it in one sitting.
The plot of Ravenous is fairly predictable, and none of the “surprise twists” surprised me at all. The point of view continues to switch between Holly and Alessandro, which I found vaguely annoying, but very reasonable within the plot of the story — they both had access to different information, and neither was very good at sharing. Both Holly and Alessandro have a disturbing proclivity for running through intense sexual fantasies in their heads whenever they encounter each other. Or anyone else of the opposite gender, for that matter.
But the plot is entertaining, the world-building is phenomenal, and Holly is a staggeringly awesome character. (And, as an added bonus, she doesn’t look, dress or behave anything like the picture on the cover of the book.) I found myself skimming over the various sex scenes (which were quite good, if you’re into that kind of thing) with a frustrated, “Get back to the story!” And that’s got to be a good thing. Right?
All the standard tropes are covered. There’s the ‘sudden but inevitable betrayal’, the ‘vampire potentially saved by love’, and the ‘magic-used with more power than she could possibly know’. But these were all woven together around a beautifully realised character, an interesting love interest, and a world full of magic and mystery.
Ravenous isn’t going to make you think. It isn’t going to open your eyes to any great truths. But it is going to entertain. If you’re looking for a bit of light, magical, romance reading, then I highly recommend this book.