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[Review] The Ravenous Dead by Natasha Hoar

The Ravenous Dead
Natasha Hoar

Cover Copy: This time the dead are hungry…

Rachel Miller doesn’t just see dead people, she rescues them. As a member of The Order of Rescue Mediums, she spends most of her time helping stubborn spirits move on from the world. But after she learns the details of three brutal murders, she knows the culprit can only be a reaper, an undead monster that relentlessly stalks its victims to feed on their souls.

A reaper once consumed the soul of Rachel’s mentor as she watched frozen in fear. Now, Rachel is in the role of teacher to Kit Elkeles, a rodach just learning to control his wraithlike powers. After Kit and Rachel rescue a half-vampire, they work to protect him while searching for a way to stop the reaper. But when Rachel realizes who the monster is really after—and just what kind of dark magic she’ll need to stop it—will she be able to do what is necessary before it devours one of her friends…or even herself?

27,000 words

My Thoughts: This is the first book published by Carina Press that I’ve read, so I was surprised by the length of The Ravenous Dead. Not unhappily surprised.

I love the concept of Rachel being a Rescue Medium and having to fight a Reaper-monster. It’s what made me pick up the book. I was pleased to find the worldbuilding is filled with innovative ideas. In the opening scene we meet Rachel mid-sword fight, and the action doesn’t stop there.

I was disappointed when the writing turned out to be very info-dumpy with page after page of telling, even in the dialogue. Take the following paragraph for example:

“When a reaper ingests a soul, it feeds off the energy that makes up its layers– sort of like an onion. We’re not sure why, but when it gets to the ‘bones’ of the soul, the absolute core essence, it’s unable to digest or voluntarily expel what’s left. So the soul remains trapped inside the reaper until it can be forcibly exorcised.”

Don’t tell me the reaper has indigestion, show me. Give me a scene with the reaper swallowing down a soul, with Rachel powerless to stop it, with the soul crying out to Rachel for help. Give me visible stakes. Don’t leave me to infer the stakes from a description of what the monster can do. Instead, we get the above paragraph in an exchange of dialogue. This makes for some dense reading.

When the dialogue is not dumping info, it can be quippy. The characters have chemistry that I would like to see developed a little more. I think Kit needed a goal. He seems to be just there as a complication for Rachel.

Despite the short length of the story, Hoar was able to create a sympathetic, complicated antagonist. One that challenged Rachel and caused deeper complications in the worldbuilding, but still was brought to a satisfying conclusion.

Love the cover of The Ravenous Dead and the cover of the first book in the Lost Souls series, The Stubborn Dead.

Despite the heavy wading through the info dumping, I liked this one enough to buy The Stubborn Dead, and I plan to check out the next in the series. I love the concepts Hoar has created and I want to see what she does with them. Plus, they’re short books (20,000-27,000 words) at a good price ($2-$3).

Rating: C+
Series: Lost Souls #2
Publisher: Carina Press, 2012
Acquired: NetGalley

Get it– Amazon | Chapters/Indigo | Goodreads | Kobo | Sony

At this time, The Ravenous Dead is not available through Canadian booksellers or at the Sony eBook store.