REVIEW: Bloodraven by PL Nunn

The forest dweller, Yhalen, is captured by ogres, and surviving their viciousness, he is given to Bloodraven, the half ogre, half human war leader as a slave. Yhalen soon pays the price for offending ogre pride. But Bloodraven is no mindless beast, and Yhalen is drawn into human and ogre politics, and into forbidden magic which might mean the difference between death and salvation.

Warnings: Noncon, Sex Slavery, Extremely Graphic Violence /Guro

Category: M/M


Bloodraven is a slavefic high fantasy novel involving monsterfuck and size difference kink. The main character Yhalen is taken into captivity by marauding ogres, and given to titular character Bloodraven as a sex slave. Although Bloodraven is caught up in his own culture’s traditions involving slaves and his rights of ownership of Yhalen, he gradually comes to appreciate Yhalen as a person and confidant as the two of them become embroiled in the political schemes of both humans and ogres. It doesn’t pull any punches, it’s problematic as FUCK, and presents us with a slowly budding romance that develops between both of them in spite of (and alongside) major amounts of abuse and trauma. It’s everything I could want from a slavefic, quite frankly, with the bonus of being a very engaging high fantasy story to boot involving primal magic, mages and politics.

The story is pretty gripping, and the plot moves at a brisk enough pace that it never felt like it was stagnating. There’s a fair amount of action and excitement, as well as mystery surrounding Yhalen’s developing magical powers, that keeps the reader invested. The author’s prose is very well crafted as well, which helps to bring the story alive. It’s evocative and paints it’s oftentimes grisly pictures with vivid life, which can make it an incredibly gruesome experience, and it deals very well with trauma in it’s characters. The story moves through varying countries and peoples and their political connections, and can be very edge of your seat and gripping in it’s action and excitement.

At first, the characters themselves can be a little less interesting. Not entirely unlikable, but skewing a little to the bland side. Yhalen is scared and vulnerable, but with willpower enough to remain unbroken despite everything that is done to him. Bloodraven is very intelligent for an ogre, but by human standards kind of a dumb jock archetype. Their dynamic is pretty standard fare: Bloodraven demands submission, Yhalen refuses to give it, Bloodraven overpowers him regardless. There’s some very interesting character development between them the more they grow to appreciate each other, however, though their relationship never quite goes beyond the very primal. I think I might have appreciated seeing Yhalen be a bit more yielding to Bloodraven eventually, but as it is his character development arc has more to do with his relationship to magic than to Bloodraven.

Bloodraven’s most interesting character trait is his moral ambiguity and the development of his feelings for Yhalen, as he gradually comes to see Yhalen as a person and not just an object. His moral conflictedness keeps him feeling if not relatable then at least empathizable. Yhalen’s experiences with abject horror and trauma, meanwhile, are the most gut wrenching part of the story for the reader, and are what kept me emotionally invested the most.

The worldbuilding, political environment, and setting are fairly generic high fantasy. There are countries of humans, tribal ogres that pillage humans, magically inclined forest people untouched by the politics of the nations around them… you get the gist. What makes it perhaps a bit unique is in it’s dedication to a certain flavour of brutality rarely explored in fantasy settings. There’s a moral greyness to absolutely every character and nation that would normally make a setting and cast unlikable, but ended up making a more interesting read. The text doesn’t coach you in morality, instead it presents a very over the top, almost cartoonishly harsh world, and then expects you to draw your own conclusions, which is appreciated. Despite this, it never feels entirely bleak and unyielding, perhaps because indulgence in the guro fantasy is part and parcel of it’s purpose.

This book is so, incredibly, hot. The kink content in this is extreme. The author has a thing for depicting incredibly graphic violence, and some of the content is bordering on outright guro. The first sex scene at the beginning of the book is a little much for my tastes, but past that I found the smut to be endlessly satisfying. The dynamic between Bloodraven and Yhalen never really softens very much; even as the two come to rely on or like each other more, it’s still very much entrenched in a Master and slave power imbalance, which is what I prefer from a book like this. I don’t think I’ve read another fantasy novel that was quite as hot as this one, and it was everything I could have asked for from a slavefic. The hardness of the smut was perfect for me, though if you’re looking for a more Captive Prince style dynamic where the two don’t fuck until they like each other and come to be equals, this is perhaps not the book for you.

Altogether what Bloodraven lacks in groundbreaking setting, it makes up for in balls to the wall dedication to noncon kink and a very fun, fast paced and engaging storyline. I absolutely adored reading this and was hooked from start to finish. I couldn’t put it down until the very last page, which still left me wanting more and seeking out more from this author. It’s hands down one of my favourites.



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