Reviewed by Matthew Johns
An attractively bound novella, just 95 pages long, Flight of the Ravens is set in Amsterdam, beginning in 1889. Dr Huginn Raaf’s son Bernard disappears while playing with his friend Elizabeth. Bernard was consumed by a mysterious force, with Elizabeth left traumatised and unable to speak of the event.
Ten years on, Elizabeth is a school teacher, with a solid grounding in the esoteric arts thanks to the encouragement of her good friend Huginn Raaf. She surrounds herself with protective charms and spells, but begins to feel restless so send a letter asking her friend Huginn to visit her. When a mysterious man starts to occupy her thoughts and dreams, she fears that the terror from her childhood is returned to Amsterdam once again to take more children.
Butler’s novella captures the spirit of Amsterdam impeccably, giving an excellent potted history of the city along the way. He mixes the esoteric arts with Norse mythology well, making the book easy to read but gripping. The dialogue is well written, and the characters all believable. There is a definite scent of H.P. Lovecraft about this tale, so if you’re a fan of Lovecraft or just good old mystical fantasy, it’s worth seeking out.