The Foxes are a fractured mess, but their latest disaster might be the miracle they’ve always needed to come together as a team. The one person standing in their way is Andrew, and the only one who can break through his personal barriers is Neil.
Except Andrew doesn’t give up anything for free and Neil is terrible at trusting anyone but himself. The two don’t have much time to come to terms with their situation before outside forces start tearing them apart. Riko is intent on destroying Neil’s fragile new life, and the Foxes have just become collateral damage.
Neil’s days are numbered, but he’s learning the hard way to go down fighting for what he believes in, and Neil believes in Andrew even if Andrew won’t believe in himself.
The Raven King picks up right after the events of The Foxhole Court, with the team down one member and barely hanging by onto their place as a team. Seth’s death has sort of rallied them together, and they are learning to be a team that depends on each other. The underclassmen, still, however do not mingle much with the upperclassmen, and Neil, for all his talk of staying in his own lane, actually gets involved with it. A big character development for Neil in this book is him learning to trust others, to break the rules his mother had promised him to keep. Living Exy all the time with his teammates means he sort of gets used to having a family, and they are keen on protecting each other, despite whatever animosity they hold towards each other.
What I love most about this series it that despite being a sports-themed book, and having actual sports scenes and the name being ‘All for the Game’, the story uses the sports as a backdrop and explores the issues of the characters. This second book provides backstories for many characters, and the Foxes’ pasts are revealed in all their painful glory. Neil is learning his teammates, but is also seeking out their pasts – whether out of his own curiosity or because he wants to understand them better. I will warn you, though, this book will hurt your heart in more ways than one, and also has some truly devastating scenes and developments, mentioning any of which could be spoiler-y. Suffice to say, the author does an admirable job of weaving those character stories into the narrative and fleshing them out into complex and gray characters.
The Raven King title also means we actually meet the Ravens, the cult-ish team that Kevin used to belong to. And perhaps the best scene was when Neil savagely drags Riko at the banquet, despite knowing how dangerous it could be to him. The crime syndicate angle is further pursued in this book, and lets just it does not lead to anywhere good. On the bright side, Neil is done running and loyally sticks with the Foxes. That ending was terrifyingly brutal, however, and I am a bit nervous and anxious to read the next, for if it serves even more pain, I don’t know how I’ll deal. Since the first book, I had sort of loved these little misfits, but now I’m like – protect these small aggressive brats, please!
This sequel was slower in pace than the first, but in terms of developments and action it delivered a greater punch. The villain, Riko, however feels more powerful than he ought to be; some instances seem out of his direct control but he was still able to orchestrate them. That makes it more scary to imagine what will come up in The King’s Men; I almost can’t wait to start with the next one.
Trigger warnings: violence, sexual assault