Reviewed by Lori Fox
Raven's Ladder by
"...if you enjoy C.S. Lewis' writing style, then you are likely to enjoy Jeffrey Overstreet. The stories are nothing alike, but there is something of Lewis in his style, and that can only be good."
King Cal-Raven's people are under attack, but this time it's something
much more insidious than simple beastmen. This evil can attack with no
warning, straight from the ground they walk on. It's time to leave their
temporary shelter built out of the rocks of Barnashum, but now where do
they go? As king, it is Cal-Raven's duty to protect his people from outside
attack, and even from themselves.
A temporary respite is offered from the rulers of House Bel Amica, but when the people begin to find their own places in such an affluent House they find it hard to resist the temptations of luxury and comfort and the siren song of the moon spirits that House Bel Amica worship.
Raven's Ladder by Jeffrey Overstreet is the third installment of his Auralia Thread series. I've made no secret of the fact that Auralia's Colors, book one in the series, won Overstreet the position of my favorite Christian fantasy author, and one my top favorite fantasy authors overall.
Book one gave us Auralia, the mysterious girl who's gift with color broke and healed the entire House of Abascar, and even started a beastman, a cursed being from House Cent Regus, on his path to healing and ultimate rejection of the curse that so many of his House honor. Book two followed King Cal-Raven as he led his people to safety, or as near as they could get in so short a time. Book three continues that journey, though with less physical fighting, and more struggle to stay true to their path rather than be lured away by comfort.
While I love all of Overstreet's novels, I find that Raven's Ladder has less of the mesmerizing quality that Auralia's Colors had, and while there is some action, it's not as action packed as Cyndere's Midnight. There also seems to be less in the way of startling or intriguing revelations, though there are some, and those are doozies. Raven's Ladder is anything but boring, but it does seem to be more of an interesting layover rather than an exciting leg of the journey. This may be because the book focuses more on Cal-Raven himself rather than on the house as a whole.
You may be able to pick up Raven's Ladder and read it without having read Auralia's Colors or Cyndere's Midnight, but I wouldn't recommend it. At the very least, I recommend reading Auralia's Colors. Without that background, it may be difficult to understand what is so very wrong with the Bel Amican's version of Auralia, or why the Ale Boy is so significant, not to mention why it's so important for House Abascar to build a new home rather than to assimilate into another House and culture. Cyndere's Midnight will be useful for understanding Cyndere of House Bel Amica, and Jordam the beastman, but those two characters are much easier to understand without a background than Auralia and Ale Boy.
In all, I highly recommend Raven's Ladder and the rest of the series to fans of fantasy. For the rest, I say this---if you enjoy C.S. Lewis' writing style, then you are likely to enjoy Jeffrey Overstreet. The stories are nothing alike, but there is something of Lewis in his style that can only be good.
Lori Fox is a freelance writer who is working on her first novel as well as writing reviews for TitleTrakk.com. In addition to writing, she enjoys reading, making jewelry, and taking as many trips to Walt Disney World as possible with her wonderful husband Kyle. Visit her online at her website.