Love is something everyone longs for at the deepest level—but for some, love is a curse. This is most certainly true for Asher Lake, the Keeper of an unknown group of people called ani-shifts. Ani-shifts, those with the ability to shift into animal forms, compose a secretive body of individuals known simply as the Union.
A wolf in shifter form, Asher lives with a curse placed upon him and his predecessors by the elusive Raven—a dark entity whose identity remains a mystery. According to the ancient archives, the Raven’s curse is conditional and set in motion by one fatal decision: if a Keeper ever allows himself to fall in love he will die.
Choosing to live in isolation within the walls of Lake Manor, a private estate concealed by the dense woods of Brokenridge, Asher has vowed never to love or to fall in love with anyone believing it to be the only way to survive. However, after ten years of neglecting his people and the protégés left in his care, along with the impending threats of an uprising, Asher learns the only way to break the Raven’s curse on future Keepers, thereby preventing them from suffering the same fate, is to accept his.
This becomes his strongest challenge of all when he encounters Elle Ison, the woman of his dreams. Does Elle hold the key? Can she help him change his fate?
There’s more than corn in Indiana; there’re animal shifters too according to the Call of the Raven, the paranormal book by Shawn Reilly. Our blog was contacted by Ms. Reilly’s editor, and she asked us if we would be interested in reviewing her client’s book. I read the synopsis on Goodreads and decided to give the book awhirl. But I forewarned both author and editor how filled my book dance card was, and they agreed to my time frame. So here I am reviewing Call of the Raven.
The prologue of the book pulled me right into the story. Within a few paragraphs Ms. Reilly had introduced the major characters and set the story extremely effectively, which can be hard to do with a paranormal tale as they work inside their own world structure. This type of structure tends to be more complex than mundane society and has its own set of rules.
The premise of the story centers on Asher Lake, Keeper of the (animal shifters) ani-shifters. He is the leader of all the animal shifters of the Union, a worldwide society of shifters. His position is cursed and doomed, and he doesn’t want or care to have it. He is supposed to watch over the protégé, young ani-shifters and future destined leaders of the union. They all live together at the Manor, a large, old stone house in southern Indiana– think X-Men without the warm and fuzzes. His older, adopted sibling, Grant, was the previous Keeper, but he died leaving a flock of younger kids to tend. Asher has no intentions of taking care of anyone but himself. Since Grant’s death, ten years prior, Asher had ignored the other kids in the house and his role as Keeper. The curse is a simple one– you fall in love and you are called by the raven to your death. Asher, at the time of Grant’s death, was the oldest of the protégé, but he was only seventeen at the time. His solution to the curse and his own untimely death, stop loving everyone and care about nothing. He may have been able to ignore his responsibilities but that doesn’t mean that they will or can be ignored forever.
As the story progressed, so does Reilly’s solid world building. She laid a good foundation for her premise of animal shifters, their social structure, and the bad guys. You can’t have a good paranormal read without a villain or two. Since the book is a planned five-book series, there is a major story arch, and there are plenty of strings left hanging at the end of this book. This didn’t bother me as I understood that these were not stand-alone books from the beginning.
I came to care a great deal about the characters in the book. As mentioned before, Asher is one of the main characters, and he is joined by Ari, Nixon, Kennedy, the rat twins (I identify them as this because Asher refuses to connect with anyone even by using their proper names) are the additional occupants of the manor i.e., protégé.
Two of the most compelling characters, Elle and Mary, are met halfway through the book. These two females play a pivotal role in the story arch. They are two extremely complex and broken characters, in fact most of Reilly’s characters are fighting their own inner demons. The book is written as an ensemble of characters, which are all multifaceted and well defined. These are characters I haven’t met previously in a paranormal book, as there is no knight-in-shining-armor hero, as these people despite being paranormal beings have major character flaws. The characters are original and fresh–even the ones who are asses. There is grittiness to Reilly’s characters that you don’t find very often in paranormal books; these are people who have real-life struggles and real-life worries.
As soon as I finished the book, I wanted to know more about the world which Reilly is building. I am actually chomping at the bit to read the second book in the series. This is a strong debut novel and I am excited to see where Ms. Reilly takes her series. I for one will be on board for the adventure.
P.S. One of the characters is a book lover—anyone who writes book love into any book is one to watch.
“Apparently the author had ended things on a dark note and critics didn’t understand the author’s reasoning. Nevertheless, she had waited a year for the book to appear on the bookstore shelves and she still longed to read it.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When it seemed like I was only an F away from flunking out of the sixth grade, a retired school teacher took me under her wing. After some tutoring and testing, she informed my parents that the reason I was having trouble in school wasn’t because I was dumb but instead dyslexic.
When my stepfather heard this, he decided to take me to a used bookstore with the belief that the best way to improve my reading skills was to read. Some of the books were hard to get through at first, but with his encouragement I refused to give up. We made many trips to that bookstore, and I especially loved the science fiction and fantasy sections.
Then one day, after complaining about the ending of a particular book, he told me that if I didn’t like the books that I had been reading, then to write one myself—so I did. My first attempt resulted in a horribly written western when I was fourteen, staring a cocky gun slinging cowboy by the name Curt Calhoun. Curt along with his seven brothers, who all shared C names in common, may never have seen the pages of a book, but that was the day I started writing, and never stopped.
I have over fifty books on my computer which I’ve written in various genres, all of which are waiting to come to life. Even though my ability to write has improved over the years, I am humble enough to admit that I cannot venture on this journey alone, and I am grateful for a very capable and talented editor. I see myself more as a storyteller than an author.
Sincerely yours, Shawn Reilly
Shawn Reilly lives in Mt. Comfort Indiana with her husband, and three daughters. Call of the Raven is her debut novel. She is currently working on the second novel in the Union series. She writes in various genres, which include paranormal romance/urban legend, science fiction, dystopian, fantasy, suspense, and dramedy.
Author information taken from Goodreads