[ARC Review] The Raven and the Dove (is it really for SJM fans?)

rating: ☾ ☾ ☾ ☾ {4/5}
publication date: march 9th, 2020
rep: black mc, disabled mc
age range: teen (13+)
(note: eARC was provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review)


A princess longing to be free…

On the dawn of her courtship trials, Princess Lyana Aethionus knows she should be focused on winning her perfect mate, yet her thoughts wander to the open sky at the edge of her floating kingdom. One final adventure calls. Upon fleeing the palace, the last thing she expects to find is a raven prince locked in a death match with a dragon.

A bastard aching to belong…

Reviled son of a dead king, Rafe would do anything for his beloved half-brother, Prince Lysander Taetanus, including posing as him in the upcoming courtship trials. When a dragon interrupts their secret exchange, he orders his studious sibling to run. After suffering a fatal blow, Rafe is saved by a beautiful dove who possesses forbidden magic, just like him.

Fate brought them together, now destiny will tear them apart…

Unknown to the world above, on the foggy sea ten thousand feet below, a young king fights a forgotten war. He believes Lyana is the queen prophesied to save the world, and with the help of his favored spy, hidden deep in the highest ranks of the dove royal house, he will stop at nothing to have her.

“Love is when you find a piece of yourself in someone else, a piece you never knew was missing, but without which you’d be broken. You feel whole, and complete and accepted for exactly who you are. You can be your true self, because around this person, for the first time you have no desire to pretend to be anyone else”

Initial Thoughts

So I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with the hype surrounding the cover of this book when it was initially revealed. Everyone on my timeline was ecstatic to see that we got such a beautiful cover featuring a Black princess. Now obviously there are lots of incredible YA fantasy authors with Black heroines, see anything written by L. L. McKinney, Tomi Adeyemi, or Justina Ireland, it’s just fantastic to see even more diversity happening when it comes to YA fantasy covers. Anyways, aside from the stunning cover, the book was also discussed because it was pitched as “perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas”. I’ll admit I read lots of SJM back in the day before she got super popular for her ACOTAR series. However after my extremely long reading slump, I felt as though I had grown out of her books so I stopped reading them. Thus, when I saw this book announced I was interested to see what it was about and also what it means when a book is pitched as “perfect for SJM fans”.

Plot (.5/1)

So this is supposed to be a Tristan and Isolde retelling, which I had no idea what that was supposed to be about. Did I read the book anyway? Absolutely. (Side note: I was also worried if I googled the story, I would get spoilers and I was right lol.) In terms of plot, the story felt slow. There were a lot of scenes that would take place over the same day so that you could see multiple characters interact and get a better idea of how their relationships were. This was a great approach because the story was very character-driven, so the plot progresses through the interactions. The only weakness of this approach is that there are a few dips in character interactions where multiple characters just hide away and brood, making the story a little slow in some areas.

Writing Style (1/1)

Kaitlyn Davis KNOWS how to write for teens and that is a compliment. Not many authors can write a 500+ page book that doesn’t make me stop and go wait, how much longer is there? Her writing was dynamic and easy to follow. I’d been having a hard time reading lately because my attention span was all over the place. This was a great book to help me get my focus back when it comes to longer reads.

Setting (1/1)

The setting was my favorite part of the story because it was so different then a lot of the fantasy I’m used to. The story takes place over several floating islands and there’s interesting mythology that explains the world state and the reasons why the people have bird wings. I’m interested to learn more about the mythology of the world because there’s a lot of things that go unexplained in the first book. So you could say I’m not so patiently waiting for the second book.

Characters (.5/1)

The characters in this story were all fairly well written. Each one had motivations and feelings that made sense and helped further the plot. I loved Lyana as the main character because she felt so genuine. She shamelessly wore her heart on her sleeve and kicked ass the whole story, something I love to see when writers create their characters. Rafe played the role of the bastard son trying to please his family well. You genuinely felt his struggle and were rooting for him to find happiness. Xander and Cassi were also main characters with POVs in the story but they felt more sidelined as a majority of the drama was happening between Rafe and Lyana for about 60% of the book. I’d love to see more development for them and with the way this book ended, I have a feeling they’ll get a lot more love in the next book.

Theme: Love

While the majority of the book was centered on the theme of love, I felt that there were many different forms displayed in the book. There was platonic love as Cassi and Lyana are constantly looking out for each other and supporting each other through all the changes in the book. There’s brotherly love as Xander and Rafe support each other but also struggle with finding their place in the world as they live in the shadow of each other. If you guys read my Daevabad post, you know I am an absolute sucker for interesting family dynamics and this book delivers.

In terms of romantic love, Lyana and Rafe’s relationship is incredibly sweet but also heartbreaking. They bond over the fact that they’re both hiding magic from the world and feel as though they can truly be themselves around each other. The rest of the book they are fighting their feelings for each other as their romance is forbidden, so that leads to plenty of drama in their relationship. I think the relationship will be more interesting to me once they get some development that happens outside of the forbidden love aspect. 

The SJM Factor

In terms of world-building and women characters, this story does work well for SJM fans. There are lots of beautiful places described to get readers involved in the setting and the women in this book are badass and unapologetic about it, which gives me Celaena/Aelin vibes when they’re showing off their skills. The male characters don’t strike me as particularly similar to SJM’s ones but it’s been a while since I read her books. I felt like this story fleshes out the male characters a lot better then SJM’s works usually do. However, I’d say that anyone who enjoys SJM will enjoy many elements of the story so definitely give this story a try. If you haven’t read SJM books, don’t even worry. If you like fantasy, complicated relationships, and cool world-building you’ll love this book.


Overall, it was a good start to the series, just a little slow in some areas. As the story progresses, I’d love to see more action start happening since the scheming in this book seems to set up a lot of plot for the rest of the series. I can’t wait to see what new challenges these characters will face in the next book, which I am eagerly awaiting.

7 thoughts on “[ARC Review] The Raven and the Dove (is it really for SJM fans?)

  1. I love the cover too! and it totally looks like Rhysand is on there. I’m glad to finally see a review of this book because I’m really looking forward to reading it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s