Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove
In Rati Mehrotra's YA fantasy novel Night of the Raven, Dawn of the Dove, a young guardswoman struggles with her unwitting role as a major pawn in the deadly games between two kingdoms in a monster-infested alternate medieval India.
Bound to the queen of Chandela by a forbidden soul bond that saved her when she was a child, Katyani has never fallen short of what’s expected of her—becoming the best guardswoman the Garuda has ever seen and an advisor to the crown prince when he ascends to the throne. But when the latest assassination attempt against the royals leaves them with a faceless body and no leads to the perpetrator, Katyani is unwillingly shipped off to guard the Chandela princes in Acharya Mahavir’s esteemed monastic school in Nandovana, a forest where monsters have roamed unchecked for generations.
Katyani wants nothing more than to return to her duties, especially when the Acharya starts asking questions about her past. The only upside of her stay are her run-ins with Daksh, the Acharya’s son, who can’t stop going on about the rules and whose gaze makes her feel like he can see into her soul. But when Katyani and the princes are hurriedly summoned back to Chandela before their training is complete, tragedy strikes and Katyani is torn from the only life she has ever known. Alone and betrayed in a land infested with monsters, Katyani must find the answers to her past so she can save what she loves and forge her own destiny.
Bonds can be broken, but debts must be repaid.
Eighteen-year-old Katyani feels as if her life is not entirely her own in this fluidly plotted, medieval India–set fantasy by Mehrotra (Markswoman, for adults). When Katyani was three, Queen Hemlata of Chandela saved her from death by creating a soul bond between them; their tie means that she always knows the queen's location and feelings, making Katyani the perfect bodyguard. Now one of the Garuda, elite royal protectors, she's responsible for the safety of the entire royal family and serves as an adviser to Crown Prince Ayan. After a barrage of assassination attempts jeopardizes Ayan's safety, a reluctant Katyani must accompany him to an ethics and military arts school. There she's tasked with protecting him from the dangerous creatures who inhabit the surrounding area while he learns from a monster-fighting sage. Katyani and the teacher's son, 19-year-old Daksh, are immediately and openly hostile toward each other, but when war breaks out and secrets from her past are revealed, she realizes that her loyalties may lead her to betrayal. Katyani's bold, vivacious personality and a swoony enemies-to-lovers romance imbue this tense, action-packed narrative with wry humor. Ages 14–up.