I just finished a most delicious new urban fantasy read, The Night Raven by the very gifted Sarah Painter, author of magical fiction. And her stories are magical. She has an engaging voice, playful and deft, and her observations are keen and amusing.
The story centres on the premise that there still exists old magic from the early pagan days of Briton, going back to Roman times and earlier, and there are four main families who are the inheritors of this once powerful magic. The symbols in each corner of the beautiful cover design symbolize the magical families: the Crows, the Foxes, The Silvers and the Pearls.
The heroine is a single 30-something woman named Lydia Crow, who is starting her own investigation business, hence the title of the series, The Crow Investigations. From her point of view the reader slowly gets to understand the mafia-like relationship of the four magical families who control a great deal of business in the richly detailed setting of London's Camberwell borough. There are complex family relationships, disappearances, break-ins and a murder, and Lydia sets out to understand and solve the mysteries.
The magic Ms. Painter creates is intriguing, a new take on some old themes, and brings to mind the work of Susannah Clarke (Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell) but her style is light, witty and very engaging, and borrows a great deal from the chick lit genre. I devoured the first book in a couple of days and immediately went in search of the next books in the series.
If you are looking for a delightful and absorbing escape into a world that is enriched by magic that is both entertaining and haunting, look no further than The Crow Investigations. I can't get enough of Ms. Painter's delightful prose and her ability to draw you into her special magical world.