Rati Mehrotra's first YA fantasy is set in a world inspired by medieval India and combines explosive action sequences with a thoughtful exploration of the complexity of identity and belonging.
Katyani, magically bound to the queen of Chandela since childhood, is tasked with protecting the crown prince. After "three assassination attempts, and zero leads," the queen sends the prince away to study under renowned spiritual guru Acharya Mahavir in the monster-infested forest of Nandovana. Headstrong Katyani, who is forced to go with him as bodyguard, chafes under Acharya's strict rules and wants nothing more than to return to her queen's side. She is drawn, though, to Daksh, the Acharya's son, even with "his cold demeanor." Katyani's time in Nandovana is cut short when a rival kingdom attacks Chandela. But her loyalty to the royal family is tested by a shocking revelation and Katyani must decide which side to support in the conflict.
Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove is ambitious and filled with grisly battles, sinister monsters and forbidden magic. The novel's brisk pacing and escalating stakes create a gripping read, while Katyani's journey of self-discovery adds a universal coming-of-age element to the epic narrative. Fans of Sabaa Tahir's An Ember in the Ashes and Kristin Cashore's Graceling should enjoy this high fantasy adventure. --Alanna Felton, freelance reviewer