I have read quite a few books this month (bookworm) but this is by far the one that I was most excited about. Ravencliff is the sequel to Blythewood, so if you haven’t read Blythewood, go and read it! Also, if you haven’t read Blythewood SPOILERS!
Avaline Hall is an orphan living in New York in the early 20th Century; after being recognised by her wealthy grandmother, Ava was admitted to the elite boarding school Blythewood, where she learned that fairies do exist, and that the purpose of the school is to prepare girls who have the abilities (usually from legacy families), to fight against the fae, and recruit them to The Order. The order trains the girls to protect the world from malevolent fae, including goblins, boggarts, lampsprites and Darklings.
In Blythewood Ava found out that she is a chime child, meaning that she can hear bells ringing in her head to warn of danger, and that she can use them against evil forces such as the tenebrae, evil shadows manipulated by the Shadow Master.
Ava’s mother was expelled from Blythewood and cast out of the order for sympathising with the fae, particularly Darklings who are described as Dark Angels. Ava was an illegitimate child, and never knew who her father was, which was a very controversial issue in the late 19th century. After falling in love with a Darkling called Raven, who explained to Ava that Darklings purpose is to carry mortals to the afterlife, and that they were cursed never to enter Faerie again after saving the originators of The Order centuries ago, Ava discovers that her father was a Darkling.
Ravencliffe begins in the summer break before the new school year; Ava has been working at a settlement house helping the poor. An old friend of Ava’s from the sewing factory comes to Ava for help, as she believes that her sister has been replaced with a Changeling.
Ava wants to return to Blythewood, but is afraid of how her friends and teachers will react if they discover the truth about her; after the events of Blythewood, attitudes towards the fae are starting to change, but the majority of The Order still believe that they are not to be trusted.
Judicus Van Drood (Shadow Master, evil mastermind and ex-member of The Order) caused the sinking of the Titanic in the first book, in his quest to stop the truth about the Darklings being discovered; Van Drood went insane and became possessed by the Tenebrae when Ava’s mother refused to marry him and fell in love with a Darkling, it suits his purposes to have The Order and the fae fighting against each other.
In Ravencliffe Van Drood goes even further to wreak his revenge against The Order, and his influence seems to stretch farther than ever; even the highly trained teachers at Blythewood start to act suspiciously. Ava and her friends must work with the Darklings and other fae to save the order, and foil Van DRood’s dastardly plan.
Ava’s friends have been through a lot already, and are no longer the carefree nestlings from the first book, especially Helen who lost her father on the Titanic, and has to deal with the loss of her family’s entire fortune. Will Ava unburden her secrets, and work with her friends to save the day again, or will her reticence drive a wedge between them forever?
I really enjoyed this sequel, and can’t wait for the next book; the writing style and plot are a lot more sophisticated than usual YA books. The characters, fantastical creatures and gothic locations remind me of Harry Potter; in fact it is almost like Harry Potter for older readers (not the target audience stopped any adults reading Harry Potter, it’s awesome). If you haven’t read these books yet what are you waiting for??