Part romance, part adventure novel, and all-round exploration of all things wiccan, The White Raven is sure to appeal to just about anybody. From the wild west to present day Salem (with a few steps back to the middle ages along the way) the book follows the footsteps of Aven Dovenelle, a witch with a problem.
Being a witch is not an ordinary state of affairs, and so it seems only fair the problem is also a bit more difficult. Aven, you see, is cursed. Every time she dies her spirit can’t ‘pass on’ to the afterlife, and she must find another body (preferably one very recently departed) to inhabit and get a bit more time on Earth, something she’s done thirteen times so far. Each time, she changes the new body to look like her first and sets up shop as a witch until the inevitable lynch mob shows up. Each time she is accompanied by the spirit of a dog she picked up along the way, and a sort-of anti-familiar: a white raven that everyone else can see, but she can’t.
If you’re thinking that her thirteenth life might be a special one, you’d be right. This time around she befriends another witch and, together, they attempt to discover the reasons for her curse. At the same time she meets a decent sort, an evil spirit from her past rocks up, a jealous woman gets involved, and it’s on for young and old.
Pros: The book has a nice style, is easy to read and generally an all-round charming (pun intended) take on witchcraft in the modern world. Aven is no old-school crone, but a shapely thirty-something with friends and an active sex life.
Cons: It’s a bit difficult to pin down why everything happens right now. Aven has lived thirteen times before, but it’s only now she starts to think about who she is and why. We spend a lot of time with her but she never seems to be a woman who has lived thirteen lifetimes.
The book is, if we’re being honest, a bit of a Mary Sue. A woman with supernatural powers who gets the good-looking bloke, has good friends, can look after herself, adjust her body shape at will, run a successful business, and talk to fairies all seems a little too good to be true. But they say writers should write about what they know, and the author has. Miller writes with verve, sass and humour, injecting the book with a sense of pace and joie de vivre uncommon in books today. This makes the book a pleasure to read, despite the generality of the content. It never lets down or flags, and the reader soon finds they care about the characters, which is the finest compliment a reader can give.
In short, a rollicking good read.
Reviewed by D C White
Rating out of 10: 7
Published by: Self-published e-book, available through Amazon
Release date: March 2017
RRP: $1.99 eBook