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Highland Raven Audiobook

Highland Raven: The Celtic Blood Series, Book 1

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Publisher's 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

What the Critics Say

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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.3 (15 )
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4.4 (15 )
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  •  
    korinka 08-28-16
    korinka 08-28-16 Member Since 2016

    I listened to audiobooks before they were cool! I read for LibriVox and I adore Stephen Briggs, T.G. Reynolds and Richard Armitage.

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    "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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michelle @ In Libris Veritas Georgia 08-25-16 Member Since 2015
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    "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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bambi_Unbridled New Orleans, LA 08-25-16
    Bambi_Unbridled New Orleans, LA 08-25-16 Member Since 2016
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    "Captivating historical fantasy."

    [The End]
    Bambi: Nooooooooooo! It can't be over!
    [Frantically checking Audible to see if the next book is out]
    No! Gah! ::flails::

    It's been a while since I had that reaction to the end of a book, but I was utterly captivated by Highland Raven. It was just so... so... magical, for lack of a better word. And I can't say enough good things about the narrator, Lesley Parkin. She really did a fabulous job with the accents and tenor of the story - she brought all the characters and the setting to life with a lyrical cadence.

    So this story is about Shakespeare's Lady MacBeth... with some paranormal twists. Now it has been many years since I read Shakespeare in school, so I really can't much about the correlation between this story and Shakespeare. And I could really care less the storylines meshed or not - I was thoroughly entertained by Melanie Karsak's tale.

    Pledged to the Morrigan at her birth by her vengeance-driven father, our heroine is known by many names: Gruoch, Corbie, Boudica, Cerridwen, Lady MacBeth. She is of the royal line of MacAlpin, with ties to the thrones of Scotland and Ireland. Cerridwen's family follows the old Gods at a time when Christianity is sweeping the land, so the story is full of Celtic and Pictish rituals and mythology. But Karsak weaves even more magic into the story with fae interludes, prophecy, wizardry and travel between realms. I liked Cerridwen as our warrior woman heroine. I loved that she was capable and curious and emotional. At this point, I'm not really seeing Cerridwen as Lady MacBeth... she is a young girl who is stretching her wings (literally) to learn family traditions and cope with her fate as best she can.

    I am not usually a fan of the love triangle... but this one has me quite intrigued. I was very excited by Cerridwen's visions of a raven-haired man with eyes full of love. I thought I had an epic love story on my hands. But then along comes Banquo, who had a special connection to Boudica as Prasutagus. We see a lot of soul magic happening and it appears that Cerridwen and Banquo have been reconnecting time and again through each life. So, not remembering much MacBeth at the time, I was confused as to whose team I should be on! I think this allowed me to really feel the same conflict that Cerridwen was feeling when she had the soul-deep connection on one hand, but was still curious about the raven-haired man from her visions on the other hand.

    This story ended on a cliffhanger and I absolutely cannot wait to see what's next in store for Cerridwen and MacBeth. I only wish these stories were longer because I was not ready for this one to end. While I am sure reading the story in print is great, I highly encourage you to give it a shot in audio because the narrator is fantastic.

    I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bethany 08-19-16
    Bethany 08-19-16

    I love the multiple dimensions that books offer as a place to dwell for moments or the end of time.

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    "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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 09-09-16 Member Since 2014

    Audiobook crazy!

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    "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!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kyla Hockman 09-28-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Wonderful Story"
    Would you listen to Highland Raven again? Why?

    Absolutely, I loved the characters and the way they interacted with one another. The use of magic in this book was also very good. The way that the characters interacted with each other was enjoyable and it was an immersive experience. I found this book to be different from most fantasy books and I liked listening it.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked the way the magic was put into the book, like it was just part of the world. I also enjoyed the way she used the old festivals that druids celebrated.


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

    I haven't listened to the narrator before, but I thought she did a wonderful job


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

    Yes absolutely, actually I practically did, as we were on a road trip at the time.


    Any additional comments?

    I got this book in exchange for an honest review from audiobook blast

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Claire United States 09-26-16
    Claire United States 09-26-16 Member Since 2012
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    "Best book I've read this year!"
    What made the experience of listening to Highland Raven the most enjoyable?

    I loved the idea for the plot, with Lady Macbeth and the narration was amazing!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The story had me hooked at the prologue. Really amazing introduction.


    Which character – as performed by Lesley Parkin – was your favorite?

    I really enjoyed all of the characters in the book. The fact that Lesley has an English accent ( I researched her other work) makes her performance even more amazing! She had a great range of characters, and to narrate entirely in a Scottish accent was brilliant.


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

    Absolutely. I couldn't put it down. I read it everywhere, especially sitting in heavy traffic!


    Any additional comments?

    I will certainly buy the remaining books in this series because I want...no need...to know what happens! This was a great story and a great listen. Well done!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    MelHay Adamsburg, PA 09-25-16
    MelHay Adamsburg, PA 09-25-16
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    "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!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lori 09-19-16
    Lori 09-19-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Highland Raven"
    Any additional comments?

    Creative, well written, engaging. Thoroughly entertaining. If you love stories full of Celtic history, magic, druids, mythology and more this story is worth your time.

    A historical fantasy fiction romance intertwined with magic and legends.

    Love the prologue

    The complicated life of a Celtic woman, in a time when a woman's life was not her own. . Grouch MacAlpin descendant of Celtic gods is also tied to the Scottish and Irish thrones by her bloodlines. Grouch's life is not her own, she is destined to become a political pawn. Throughout the story she is known by several names Grouch, Cerridwin, Corbie and Boudica. This story takes place before she becomes the Lady MacBeth we are all more familiar with.

    This is the first Melanie Karsak book I have "read". She has gained another fan. I will definitely be continuing with series. Hopefully the next book will be available on audio soon.

    Lesley Parkin did a really good job with the narration. Great voice easy to listen to for hours. There could have been a little more distinction between character voices. Sometimes it was hard to tell which character was speaking. She did however bring the characters and story to life. She was able to make you feel the emotions of the characters as well. Overall well done.

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

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tiasdolls 08-27-16
    Tiasdolls 08-27-16 Member Since 2015

    I love books...I love storytelling. Audiobooks allow me to enjoy a great story while still being able to do my daily routine. Thanks Audible

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    "Magic, Romance and Sex. Recommend book"
    What did you like best about Highland Raven? What did you like least?

    There's romance, magic, revenge, adventure. I did not care for the detailed sex scenes (romantic or not). I got lost a few times when "Corbi" was reminiscing. I didn't realize until a little later that there was a change in scene.


    What aspect of Lesley Parkin’s performance would you have changed?

    Overall the performance was off. Maybe too slow, maybe too much of the same rhythm? Lots of characters and not enough distinction in voices.


    Any additional comments?

    I was intrigued by the magical aspect of the story. The sex scenes seemed too much and detracted from the story. I truly didn't see how the book would end (don't worry, I won't spoil it). It was definitely intriguing.I received a copy via audiobook boom in exchange for an unbiased review.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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