The Raven's Daughter

  • by Peggy A. Wheeler
  • Narrated by Joe Hempel
  • 7 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

After a police shootout where she killed a man, criminologist Maggie Tall Bear Sloan retires from the force to enjoy peace and quiet in rural California. When sets of young twins are murdered in her town, the local sheriff recruits her to solve the gruesome killings.
But to catch a killer, Maggie either accepts her true nature as a "pukkukwerek" - the shapeshifting monster killer of Yurok legend - or more children will die. As the manhunt intensifies and her own family is threatened, Maggie will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. Whether she's awake or asleep dreaming, Maggie is faced with a difficult choice: embrace her heritage - even if it means turning into myth itself - or deny that heritage and lose everything.

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Wicklow, North California, is a small town of around 3,000 inhabitants, with an unusual claim to fame: it has one of the highest incidents of multiple births in the world. Lots of twins - and someone is killing them. The little bodies, if found, have all had their hearts removed. After returning home from working away in phycological profiling, Maggie is purchased by old schoolfriend Jake to join the police reserves in the hunt for the murderer.

This is an unusual mystery thriller in that the concentration is not so much on the killings themselves as on the characterisations of Maggie and her family and other inhabitants of Wicklow, in particular would-be lover, Jake, Maggie's friend, Sally, and a handsome fanatically Christian American Indian to whom Maggie feels an instant attraction. Additionally, at the beginning of each chapter is a very brief "28 years ago" snippet, which slowly reveals the reasons behind the deaths of the children. There is also a gentle paranormal aspect, too, nicely underplayed, with the constant attention of the ravens.

As always, Joe Hempel delivers a fine narration, well paced, beautifully read and a pleasure to hear as well as giving individual voice to each of the protagonists. Without him, this book would have been less. There was one major glitch, however, whether in my copy alone or a general production problem, I don't know, but about a minute into chapter six, my book stopped and returned to the beginning. To resolve this, I resorted to skipping that chapter altogether and restarting at chapter seven. There were no further problems.

My thanks to the rights holder for gifting me my copy of The Raven's Daughter, via Audiobook Boom. I am undecided about it. For the most part, I enjoyed it very much and the who done it? aspect was well set up. But, although the main protagonists were given life through the thorough characterisations, they remained, for me, unreal. Having said that I would still recommend it as an Audiobook for the pleasure of Mr.Hempel's narration and for some of the interesting stories gleaned along the way.
And the cover is stunning.

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- Norma Miles

Small town murders and Native American folklore

A good first novel. Peggy Wheeler uses "show, don't tell", and the main character Maggie is well-characterised. I particularly liked the early bit of description of Maggie's only wrinkles being crow's feet, even though she rarely smiles.

The setting is interesting, particularly the Native American folklore woven throughout. Joe Hempel's narration is excellent, with distinct and consistent character voices.

There are some flaws in the story (the disjointed passage of time, the villain's identity being hugely telegraphed, and the villain resorting to a long monologue at the end to explain every last detail), but they didn't hurt my enjoyment. These aspects are why I have called this a good *first* book, and I look forward to seeing what Peggy Wheeler writes next.

This book was given to me for free at my request and I provided this voluntary review.
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- Matt G

Book Details

  • Release Date: 30-01-2017
  • Publisher: Dragon Moon Press