The story opens with Lucinda Ravensburgh doing a reading on an object. Lucinda has many talents, but chief among them is the ability to get impressions and sometimes full scenes from an item. Something goes wrong, however, and she nearly comes to grievous harm during her reading. Enter Captain Magda Stoner, who while merely being the messenger who delivered the object, quickly becomes the target of Lucinda’s wrath. Despite her irritation with the good captain, Lucinda recognizes that the vision she was shown is too important to discount, no matter how ill-advised the delivery of it to her was. She agrees to accompany Magda to meet with her superior.
The trip takes place by air ship. Lucinda’s delight at traveling in such a fashion is quickly tempered by the dangers they face during the voyage. Along the way she meets Ascara, a fiery warrior under the captain’s command who is impressed by Lucinda’s abilities. Her admiration for the cool Captain Stoner grows. The three of them grow closer and it becomes clear that the abilities of Ascara and Magda are an asset to Lucinda as she struggles with seismic changes to her destiny and a demonic presence that has become aware of her existence. The situation only grows murkier and more tense upon their arrival in Ama’Rica. The great evil Lucinda and her companions are trying to track down may be only the beginning.
Kucinda Ravensburgh is definitely the main character in this novel. She is the self-assured mistress of the Rainbow Tower in Mid-Angle. The tower affords her access to many kinds of magic, but her ability to read objects and blood are her most powerful tools. Her aid is sought by many. Lucinda is also irreverent and cheeky in the extreme, characteristics I love in a main character, especially when we get to see the story mainly through her eyes. Her personality leaps from the page. She is thrown a number of curve balls in the story and rises to meet them, though sometimes with the help of her companions. I like that she is a powerful character, without being invulnerable.
Usually in lesbian novels with romantic elements, we expect to see two main characters. However, in this story we have two characters opposite our main character: Captain Magda Stoner and Ascara. Captain Magda Stoner is the captain of an airship and an inspector tasked with being a liaison to Lucinda in a murder case of horrific proportions. She is calm and cool under pressure, sometimes literally so. As the captain of the airship, she works to project an air of competence in all things, but when we get to see behind her façade, we find a deeply caring woman who works hard to keep those under her charge safe. She was damaged by events in her past, but has risen above them to find success in her own right.
Officer Ascara d’Jharaena ael Korphen is the perfect foil to Magda. She is action and passion in the face of Magda’s cool and considered façade. Ascara is also fiercely devoted and protective of Lucinda. She has an instinctive understanding of Lucinda’s needs and works to fulfill them. Her warm exterior and sense of humor hide a willingness to do extreme violence in Lucinda’s protection.
The three of them have an interesting triad of romantic interest growing among them. It’s definitely on a slow burn, though.
The Writing Style
Round’s use of language is lovely. I particularly enjoy her descriptive scenes. They’re well-balanced to provide a feel for the environment of the characters, but so heavy as to slow down the tempo of the story. The pace has a good balance as well. There is a fair amount of world building, but nothing that feels like an info dump. I enjoy getting to know a world along with the characters, so this was exactly the right amount for me. The story is written mainly from the point of view of Lucinda, but we do get glimpses of the world from the eyes of our other mains. Each character’s POV feels subtly different and I enjoyed getting to know them further.
This book is difficult to categorize. It straddles many genres including steampunk, dystopian/alternative universe, mystery, with some romance thrown in. I absolutely love that it can’t be pigeonholed as there was no way for me to anticipate what might be coming next while I was reading it. I had to strap in and see what was going to happen. The taming the beast/thawing the ice queen trope is used in one of the most clever ways I think I have seen so far.
There aren’t many cons that I can point to. The book is very well-written. It is the first of a series, but the main plot points of this book are tied up at the end, with delicious hints of what is coming down the pike for our heroes. Speaking of delicious, there is some romantic content, but it’s on a seriously slow burn here. I enjoy that kind of torture from my authors, but if you’re looking for a quickly wrapped up romantic subplot, you aren’t going to find it here.
If you’re into lesbian speculative fiction at all, you should run and get this book today. If you’re looking for a unique story told in a lyrical writing style, run, don’t walk to your computer and order it right now! There is nothing else like this book out there. I highly recommend it, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next one. Fortunately, Round makes it pretty easy to social media stalk her, and she’s not above dropping hints on where she is in the writing process.
Excerpt from Raven, Fire and Ice by Nita Round
LUCINDA OPENED HER eyes. She lay on the floor, cradled in the arms of her assistant, Amelia Woostenhead, and her nose a mere two inches away from a rather well-endowed bosom. With such a distraction, the nightmare began to fade from her thoughts.
“Lucinda? Are you all right?” Amelia asked.
Her jaw ached, her eyes stung, and she wanted to be sick. “Bad token,” she admitted. The distraction of Amelia’s proximity was already fading.
“What?” Amelia asked.
“The token, it’s a bad one.”
“What do you mean bad?”
“It’s been marked by two people, or a thing. I’m not certain what it means.” She paused to put her thoughts into order. “The victim, and the perpetrator, I think. But it felt like something different.”
“More? Never mind the token, are you all right? Lucinda, please answer.”
“Yes fine,” she mumbled, although in truth she couldn’t be at all sure. “Am I bleeding?” she asked.
“No, you’re not. At least I can’t see any marks or damage on you.”
Lucinda didn’t respond, at first. Yet the pain of the nightmare persisted, and the sensation of burning claws ripping across her chest almost took her breath away. This really did feel like something more.
“How many fingers am I holding up?” Amelia asked.
“How many fingers, Lucinda? You know the drill.”
Lucinda took a moment to focus. “Four,” she answered.
“All right, are you sure you’re okay? You don’t look well. You’re pale, even for you.”
“Yes, now help me up. It’s neither comfortable nor dignified on the floor, although I have to say I’m rather distracted by the close proximity between your cleavage and my nose. I think I’d be happy to lie here and stare at the view if you don’t mind.”
“For goodness sake, grow up, Lucinda.”
“I am all grown up. Or haven’t you noticed?”
“You’re a twelve-year-old boy in the body of a thirty-year-old woman.”
“I’m so glad you noticed my body.”
Amelia snorted, but said no more.
Lucinda straightened her skirts as she got to her feet. “I hate these long, full things,” she grumbled. “I think the corset near broke my ribs.”
“Why the hell didn’t you loosen it before you started?”
“I didn’t expect this reaction.”
“You expected enough of a response to put in the bite bar.”
Lucinda grimaced. “Didn’t say I had to be consistent, did I?”
“Good thing I did, too. Without it I’m sure I’d have shredded my tongue.”
“That’s bad, Lucinda, you should take better precautions.”
“How can I? I don’t know what I’ll see until I look.”
Amelia’s expression softened. “You’re a fool.”
“Yes,” Lucinda agreed and straightened her shoulders. As she did, she almost over balanced.
“Lucinda!” Amelia cried out.
“I’m fine,” Lucinda said. “The ground shook. Did you notice?”
“I felt a slight shudder, but not enough to make me, or you, overbalance. You should sit down.”
Lucinda took one glance at Amelia’s obvious disapproval. “I’m fine,” she countered. “It took me by surprise that’s all,” Lucinda said.
“If you say so.”
“I do,” Lucinda said. She made her way across the room using different pieces of furniture to ensure she made it. At the wall, she placed her bare hand upon the stone and felt the tremble persist. She closed her eyes to concentrate. “I understand,” she said, as her mind filled with an image of a soldier standing to attention at their gates, and then again inside her chambers. Once she had seen the message, the stone of the tower ceased to move any more.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781619293724
- Publisher: Regal Crest Enterprises
Nita Round Online
Note: I received a free review copy of Raven, Fire and Ice by Nita Round. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.