A backwoods bar run by a shapeshifter.
A road that changes length, direction, and destination.
A young man, lost in the forest and dying, hears the cry of a raven.
Set in a dystopic near future, Raven Woman’s Tavern is the story of a collection of survivalists who are squatting in the remains of a dead timber town in the Northwest. The residents—most of them old, sick, and in need—help each other by means legal and extralegal under the watchful eye of Rachel, the tavern keeper. When the peace of the community is disturbed by the sudden visit of four members of the local militia, the survivalists are frightened; not all of them are law-abiding and some are not citizens.
I'll admit the first line of this book's blurb caught my attention straight away and the reading experience that followed did not disappoint. The powerful prologue sets the scene of a remote forest setting where man came, destroyed and then left again but the constant being 'Raven' who is a powerful deciding figure among the trees and a place where this book finds it's setting.
"Animals, plants and people, came and went, but Raven stayed..."
Most dystopian futures focus on cities or even the masses but Raven Woman's Tavern homes in on the path less travelled and welcomes you to Warrentown, perhaps a forgotten corner of the world where a community of people are still trying to survive whatever happened out in that wider world. Many of them are older or just trying to get by and we meet near enough all of them along the way. It has all the feels of a Stephen King multi character piece but without the overindulgence because between them there is a real sense of community and their hub just happens to be a quaint tavern. Of course this is intentional because Raven is watching over them and protecting them with it.
The story begins to take direction as a group of young Militia turn up at the tavern looking for more than just a few drinks and their troublesome presence brings the a taste of what is going on in the wider world. After one of the group's wallet appears to go missing they return yet again looking for trouble but instead receive a lot more. This is where things really kick up a notch because Raven starts to play with their heads and what is supposed to be a short path for them becomes a lot longer and for the sake of protecting the people of this small community. For one of them in particular this path puts everything into perspective and becomes an opportunity for Raven to recruit someone new.
Laura Koerber tells this immersive story with range and imagination. There are even a few deep metaphors about life and survival. It's dark in places with some chills but also carries a deeper moral story about community. My only real critique would be for the ending to have a little less pace but for anyone looking to read something different with a dark fantasy edge then this is the one for you!
Indie author and book blogger from the UK who works in cutting edge science by day and writes by night. I know the struggle that is indie publishing so my efforts focus on spotlighting fellow authors and contributing to the writing community.
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