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Highland Raven

The Celtic Blood Series, Book 1
Narrated by: Lesley Parkin
Series: The Celtic Blood Series, Book 1
Length: 8 hrs and 6 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)
Regular price: £19.39
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Summary

Destined to become Queen of Scotland. Bound by blood to the Celtic gods.

Scotland, 1026 - Gruoch, descendant of the line of MacAlpin, should have been born into a life of ease. But fate is fickle. Her father's untimely death, rumored to have been plotted by King Malcolm, leaves her future uncertain and stained by the prophecy that she will avenge her family line.

Escaping to one of the last strongholds of the old Celtic gods, Gruoch becomes an adept in arcane craft. Her encounters with the otherworld, however, suggest that magic runs stronger in Scotland than she ever imagined.

Haunted by dreams of a raven-haired man she's never met, Gruoch soon feels her fate is not her own. She is duty-bound to wed a powerful lord, if not the Prince himself; however, she's not sure she can stop her heart when she meets Banquo, a gallant highlander and druid.

Fans of Outlander and Mists of Avalon will relish this sweeping Scottish historical fantasy that tells the tale of Gruoch, a woman struggling to escape her fate without blood on her hands.

©2014 Clockpunk Press (P)2016 Clockpunk Press

Critic reviews

A great novel that captures realistically a world of witches and fairies, warrior women and barbaric men, and a woman exploring a life she had no idea existed (Author Carrie L. Wells)
A rich tale of lore and legend that will trap you faster than a fairy ring ( Fabulous and Fun Book Reviews)

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A brilliant story, excellently narrated

I listened to this story as an audiobook, excellently narrated by Lesley Parkin, who really brought it to life, drawing out its subtle nuances and breathing life into the characters - with my eyes closed I could see the movie playing in my imagination! I absolutely loved the way that the author has woven in elements of the inspiration Shakespeare and real Scottish history, but still kept it a very original story, giving Lady Macbeth her own backstory, and I can't wait to listen to book 2 and find out what happens next!

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  • Michelle @ In Libris Veritas
  • 25-08-16

Another Hit by Karsak

Melanie Karsak does it again! Highland Raven is a delightful mix of historical and fantasy that pulls inspiration from Shakespeare's Macbeth. The story centers on Lady Macbeth, before she ever took that name and is instead Gruoch MacAlpin the daughter of a royal bloodline and at the heart of magic from the Celtic gods.

Karsak has made her way onto my favorites list with her The Harvesting series, and are among my favorite audiobooks because of her care at picking amazing narrators who bring her stories to life. She doesn't disappoint with Highland Raven. I will admit to being somewhat hesitant with this one since it's a little different from her other novels, but that worry was pretty much pointless because I really think she knocked it out of the park with Highland Raven. We are given a chance to look at Grouch as she grows up and begins to learn that her fate has been set before her by the old gods, and that she is not only bound as a relation to the King but also by the old magics that still linger in the land. We get a surprising amount of religious strife as Christianity starts it's hold on the area and as those who still believe in the Celtic gods struggle to hold onto that heritage in the face of outright disapproval. Then there is the magic itself...I completely adored all the chapters in which Gruoch spent with the coven, as that is when we really start to see the Bard's work pulled in and weaved into the story-line in bits and pieces.

There was so much I wasn't expecting as far as the characters go. Grouch (Lady Macbeth) is portrayed as a power hungry woman who is completely lost to her husband's ambition in the original Shakespearean play, she pulls the strings behind his rise and we occasionally see the three fates at important moments lingering. In Highland Raven we see her as a woman who is placed with tremendous power and finds love not with Macbeth, but with Banquo. She is strong willed, curious, and glad to have this higher purpose, though the power behind her isn't one that allows for weakness or mercy. Then there is Sid...who is burdened with a gift of her own, but becomes a fast friend to Grouch and is completely delightful.
The narration, as a mentioned before, is perfection. Lesley Parkin does an excellent job with the reading and really makes each character stand out with a variety of different accents. She does read a bit on the slow side but she does have a pretty steady pace and a fantastic reading voice.

There is so much I wish I could talk about when it some to HR, but this review has gone on long enough already without adding in even more rambling about character development and fantastic scene setting. Karsak is definitely an author to keep an eye out for, and I really love her range. I'll be keeping up with this series for sure and I can't wait to see how Lady Macbeth handles the new revelation at the end of this book.

I received a copy of this in exchange for an honest review.

13 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • korinka
  • 28-08-16

Grabbed my soul

If you've ever looked into divination, past lives, runes or wicca, read this, and never even mind the whole Macbeth thing. Because, to be honest, I remember zilch from Shakespeare's Macbeth.
But I know that there are times in every woman's life when she wishes to be included in a tribe of women, to be taught herb lore and mysteries. To be an aspect of the Goddess and to find her inner calling. Go on this journey with Corbie, as she becomes Cerridwen.
You'll love what you find.

Also please give a medal to the person who got Lesley Parkin to read this story. Her Scottish accent totally convinced me I was in 11th century Scotland, following future Lady Macbeth. Beautiful.

Pet peeve: the lady on the cover of this book should probably have been raven black-haired, like the heroine. I like her braided updo, though :)

I still have 3 hours left of this story... so, gotta go.

See you in our next life together!

This audiobook was given by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review via Audiobook Boom.

9 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • MelHay
  • 25-09-16

Lady MacBeth long before she was MacBeth

Have you listened to any of Lesley Parkin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

This is the first story I've heard narrated by Lesley, and I'm highly impressed. The thick accent of the time and place comes through and feels genuine. Emotion and spirits of the characters come through the rise and fall of her tone. I was really drawn to her narration. Lesley even gives different feel to voices for different characters.

The writing feels so real when I listen to Lesley narrate. The brutal treatment woman lived under as wives and servants alike. The story starts slower, setting the stage of where Gruoch comes from and what she's seen to bring her to who she is. This is Lady MacBeth and her journey through life.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Gruoch has lived through much with the way woman are seen and treated in this time. Watching the hatred and love that men could show woman, but mostly the mistreatment above all. She's even been at the receiving end as well.

The story really gets going for me when Gruoch receives the message that it's time to go live with the ladies of the goddess and learn the ways of old. However, Gruoch is different. She's of an older blood. Soul magic. Gruoch finds who she was by who she meets. There is a magical feel of old ways to all Gruoch lives through. She has a connection to the goddess, she believes thanks to her father's doing at her birth. I love when Gruoch goes to the ladies, all that she learns and sees, so much magic.

Any additional comments?

*This audiobook was provided by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost in exchange for an unbiased review courtesy of AudiobookBlast dot com, at my request.

This is one of those stories I was drawn into and really enjoyed, yet it's difficult to write about. I don't want to give away anything as I want you to have all the feels as you experience the story as well.

This story is Gruoch's. Who is Gruoch? She's who we know as MacBeth. This story tells of what she's experienced as she has grown up. On the day she was born her father called to the goddess. That goddess has answered and will call on Gruoch when she's older. Gruoch lives a good, but at times difficult, life with her aunt as her father fights for their king, and his brother. But then finds she lives permanently with her aunt when her father dies, on a mission for his brother.

Aaah. Sid. Sid is very different. She's alone in seeing the faerie folk. And she can really see them! Gruoch sees enough to believe it, and so do I. Sid shows Gruoch her past life, one they shared. And when Druid named Banquo arrives at the holiday celebration, Gruoch sees more of that past life. A past life she loves and would do anything to have again. However, Gruoch is having visions of another man. And this man can see her as well. Who is he and what does he mean to her? And the goddess has other plans for Gruoch.

Gruoch is one strong woman. She witnesses abuse and stands in it's face when she realizes at a young age as to what's happening. Even when that abuse finds her. Gruoch also feels love. She finds dear friends and the man that's dear to her. She stands for herself and not just as a pawn for her uncle, the King, to pass around, although she knows she could be married off as a political piece.

I enjoyed the magical feel we get while Gruoch is learning the old ways of her people. This story is set in Scotland and we get that magical historical feel from it.

There is more books to come with Gruoch and her life. I know there's more to come as we haven't gotten through MacBeth's story fully yet, and I very much look forward to what's to come!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Paul Vasquez
  • 09-09-16

A Grand Celtic Story!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes I would! This is a story about life for a young Celtic girl back in 1026 Scotland. She goes though intense adversity and has to deal with cruel Chieftains.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Gruoch.....this is the young Celtic girl. She goes through a whole lot but remains strong.

What does Lesley Parkin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Wow! Talk about a Scottish accent! There are times where it is difficult to understand what is being said. But then again...it is wonderful to her that accent!

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Life and Love for a young Celtic Lady?

Any additional comments?

Really enjoyed the book! I received this book for free from the Author and Audio book boom in exchange for a unbiased review.
Thank you!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bethany
  • 19-08-16

Great listen, again, and again

What did you love best about Highland Raven?

I loved the author's imagination and knowledge with which she created a world and characters with which I got embedded.

What did you like best about this story?

What I liked best was the way the story portrayed life, that even with magic there are ups and downs and Cerridwen's ability to deal well with all.

What does Lesley Parkin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I think the narrator gave the book a life that I could not have done by reading. Accent (because I am in USA), emphasis, passion...I can't imagine anyone else doing so well!

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes, and I did. It was worth getting to work late

Any additional comments?

I anxiously await the next book. Quite a cliff-hanger about love and the next phase for her. I will listen again this weekend. There are some books that I just wish would never end.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Joyfulgirl
  • 17-09-18

Disappointing

I bought this title after a summer of reading historic and classic fiction. I wanted something fun and magical and it said if I liked Outlander and Mists of Avalon this was a good choice. The narration was pretty decent but the plot was not well paced at all. I had no idea what was happening some of the time and I don't think there was much building of characters, scenes or worlds. Nothing seemed fully developed. The ending was abrupt and I thought I accidentally skipped it somehow. Clearly they want you to rush in and buy the next book to try and figure out what the heck happened, but honestly, I'll pass. I only stuck this book out b/c I'm not a quitter and honestly, I kept hoping the plot would get interesting.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Heavenlyval
  • 24-04-19

I love this story & narration!

This story is fantastic! I adore the inclusion of the Celtic Goddesses and worship. I have moved on to book 2 and I am definitely not disappointed. I love the strength that Gruoch is growing as she learns more about herself. Historical fictions are my favorite and I put this storytelling up will Diane Diana Gabaldon, Diana L. Paxson & Juilet Marillier. I'm so glad I found this series!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Michelle
  • 12-01-19

Great Listen!!

Beautifully written and performed, I deeply enjoyed it. If you enjoy books with an old magic mystical feel this one with rock your socks off!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Miss R.
  • 07-01-19

Beautiful Narrarion

The narrator’s voice is perfect. The storyline was good, but sometimes difficult to follow due to all of the detailed names. If I had been able to read them as we went it would have helped me keep better track of places and characters. That being said, the narrator did vary her speech for different characters which helped differentiate them more easily.
Very enjoyable overall.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Diane Kay
  • 20-12-18

Fantasy Celtic

Audio book very short and not worth the price. Good reading. Fairly well written but not much of an ending. Book is in a series and doesn’t stand on its own

1 of 1 people found this review helpful