Title: The Night Raven
Author: Sarah Painter
Series: Crow Investigates #1
E.S.C.A.P.E Score: 46
(see below for breakdown)
Lydia has always known she has no power, especially next to her infamous and more-than-slightly dodgy family. Which is why she carved her own life as a private investigator far away from London.
When a professional snafu forces her home, the head of the family calls in a favour, and Lydia finds herself investigating the disappearance of her cousin, Maddie.
Soon, Lydia is neck-deep in problems: her new flatmate is a homicidal ghost, the intriguing, but forbidden, DCI Fleet is acting in a distinctly unprofessional manner, and tensions between the old magical families are rising.
The Crows used to rule the roost and rumours claim they are still the strongest. The Silvers have a facility for lying and they run the finest law firm in London. The Pearl family were costermongers and everybody knows that a Pearlie can sell feathers to a bird. The Fox family… Well. The less said about the Fox family the better.
For seventy-five years, a truce between the four families has held strong, but could the disappearance of Maddie Crow be the thing to break it?
I really really enjoyed this. I do love a good urban fantasy with a magical investigation, and this managed to be unique from those I have read. It checked all the urban fantasy boxes for me. A magic system that blends seamlessly into our world, intriguing characters that make you want to learn more about them and their lives, and a good mystery that keeps the pages turning.
I really loved the worldbuilding each of the magical families had a detailed history and I really liked how we learnt about them. It wasn’t huge info dumps but instead little bits of information as Lydia stepped deeper and deeper back into the world she thought she had left behind. It was really well paced, and we learnt a lot about each of the four families, how they interact and the history of those relationships but I also got the feeling that this was just the set up with a lot more to come.
Lydia was a great guide to this world. I like that she was an older protagonist in her late 20s and not completely comfortable about returning home. I liked that throughout she was always re-evaluating what she knew before she left, what she knows now and what she is learning about her family and their powers. I really liked her interactions with various side characters and I am really interested to see how they develop in the next book in the series as again I only felt we just scratched the surface of those characters.
This also had a really interesting balance of action and then slower investigative moments as well as moments focusing on Lydia and relationships with family, new friends, old friends etc. It made for a really interesting read. My only quibble is I do feel the romance kind of came out of nowhere, I would have liked a little more flirting and tension but it didn’t really materialise and it just all seemed a little rushed and dull. Which is a shame as I think Fleet is going to be a very interesting character if we get to learn more about him.
I am definitely going to continue reading the series as I am eager to learn more.