Title: Raven, Romda and Ravai: The Dark Beast
Author: Dave Maruszewski
Genre: Fantasy / Young Adult / Children’s
Raven, Romda and Ravai: The Dark Beast tells the tale of three friends journeying on their first quest as knights of the king’s guard. They travel to come to the aid of a priest who has sent his concerns to the king. When they arrive, they meet a beast who has been terrorizing the lands. The trio’s quest becomes more dangerous as they venture farther from home and into the unknown.
As the trio travels to different villages and towns, they discover that the beast is “the Dark Beast,” a boy who turned beastly and became the source of myths and legends among the locals. They meet townspeople who share stories about it. Each new place they visit offers a new piece of the story, bringing Raven, Romda, and Ravai one step closer to the beast himself.
The book’s short chapters, consistent change of setting, and quick introduction of new characters will keep readers alert and engaged throughout. The book’s fast pacing enhances the action scenes, but at times it lessens the impact of moments where tension is building. We don’t get the chance to sit for a minute and feel the pressure the characters experience, knowing that they will have to face the beast eventually.
It’s no surprise that there is no shortage of fight scenes in this adventure quest, where the trio encounters potentially dangerous people, places, and objects. From hand-to-hand combat, to sword fighting, to using magic, each fight scene feels new, exciting, and surprising.
The book is heavily plot-driven, but it is the characters that will invite readers to feel like they are along for the adventure. Raven, Romda, and Ravai’s sense of humor and random quibbles make them fun characters to read about, but their loyalty to one another and their strong bond make them all the more worthy of rooting for.
The book’s main villain, the Dark Beast, is by far the most dynamic character in the book. We learn that the Dark Beast’s story begins with him entering his school with the intent to harm the students who have bullied him. This scene may be uncomfortable for some readers because of its close similarities to the real-life incidents of school violence. But this backstory is not told in vain––as we hear more stories about the Dark Beast, we understand some of the book’s major themes.
Readers will come to see how the Dark Beast’s “beastliness” has nothing to do with magic and everything to do with self-isolation, fear, and bitterness. Maruszewski takes great care to flesh out the Dark Beast’s weaknesses, insecurities, and pain. Ultimately, readers will walk away with a deeper understanding of “good” and “evil.”
In Raven, Romda and Ravai: The Dark Beast, bravery, honor, and love conquer all. With a fast-moving plot and exciting action scenes, Raven, Romda and Ravai: The Dark Beast will grab the attention of even the most restless young readers. Magical and adventurous, Raven, Romda and Ravai: The Dark Beast is the perfect fit for young readers who want to dip their toes into the fantasy genre.
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