Debut author Margaret Owen crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, survival, and sacrifice–perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Kendare Blake–in The Merciful Crow.
“Rich, harrowing, and unafraid to tackle discrimination―perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Tomi Adeyemi.”―Kirkus, Starred Review
One way or another, we always feed the crows.
A future chieftain
Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.
A fugitive prince
When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses―and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.
A too-cunning bodyguard
Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?
HOLY COW!! Or should I say HOLY CROW!! The Merciful Crow was amazing!!! MASSIVE thank you to Fierce Reads and Margaret Owen for the advanced readers copy. I was lucky enough to get a copy at C2E2 this past March.
The first time I saw the cover of The Merciful Crow I was immediately drawn in. And then I read the synopsis. I knew that I absolutely had to read The Merciful Crow. I was thrilled when I was able to get a copy at C2E2. I absolutely LOVED this book. The Merciful Crow is an action-packed adventure in an amazing, creative world! It is an incredible story of survival, vengeance, and sacrifice. It absolutely lived up to the hype and I can’t wait to find out where the story goes next.
The Merciful Crow takes place in the world made up of twelve castes, with each represented by a different bird. These castes were founded by thousands of gods who created the castes in their image and gifted each with a birthright (power). All of the castes have a birthright (fire, stealth, etc.) except for the Crows. There are also witches (who have stronger powers) born within each caste. The top caste is the Phoenixes, who make up the royalty and rule this world. The lowest caste is the Crows. They have no birthright and are universally looked down upon. They are abused, hated, and discriminated against. The treatment of the Crows is appalling. However, the castes rely on the Crows for a very important purpose . . . the Crows are the only ones immune to the Sinner’s Plague. The Sinner’s Plague is a horrible disease, highly contagious, and is fatal to anyone who contracts it. In order to stop the spread of the disease, any time someone contracts the Plague, the Crows are summoned to deliver mercy killings and to burn the bodies. This is why they are known as “The Merciful Crows.”
Our story follows Fie, a member of the Crows. Fie was born a witch and is therefore training to become chief of her clan. Crow witches are known as Bone Thieves. This is because they are able to draw out power from bones and teeth. The Crows carry teeth and use the powers associated with the tooth’s former owner. For example: Sparrows have the birthright to hide in plain sight. Fie often calls upon Sparrow teeth to hide from enemies.
Fie’s life is turned upside down when two of her clan’s mercy killings turn out to be alive and stowaways. To make matters worse . . . the two stowaways are the Prince, Jas, and his body double, Tavin! Fie (and her clan) make a deal with Jas and Tavin and start on an adventure full of twists and turns.
The Merciful Crow was exceptionally written. Margaret Owen created a vivid world that I truly felt like I was a part of. The castes and birthrights were fascinating! It was such a unique and original world and plot. And the magic system!? It was so cool!! At first I was a little creeped out by the use of teeth, but I got over it real quick. I was constantly wondering which teeth Fie would use next! The magic system was so interesting and well thought out. It also felt super fresh, which is hard to do in today’s overcrowded YA fantasy market. I loved watching Fie use different teeth to accomplish different tasks. I was fascinated by the magic!
The Merciful Crow has the perfect amount of romance. When I read the synopsis I was a little nervous that there was going to be a love triangle, but (MINOR SPOILER) I am happy to say that there was not. The romance was expertly done . . . it wasn’t rushed and it added to the characters, but didn’t take over the plot. The two characters involved in the love story are strengthened by their love. The romance does not distract from the plot or take away from each party’s personal character growth. The two characters still exist and function outside of the romance. I think it can be very easy to let a romance take of the story, but Owen was able to write a beautiful love story that enhanced the book. AND I now have a mega fictional crush on the male character involved 🙂
The Merciful Crow is part one of a duology series. I am so glad that this series isn’t over because I want more of this world and its magic. The ending is a perfect mix of wrapping up this story, but keeping me hooked to find out what happens next. And trust me . . . I am totally hooked! One thing that I really liked about The Merciful Crow is that this story has a conclusion. Don’t get me wrong . . . there is a cliffhanger and I am dying to know what happens next! However, it was nice to have this part of the plot resolved. It reminds me of the saying . . . “the battle has been won, but the war isn’t over.”
The Merciful Crow was an action-packed, fun adventure full of magic, romance, and superb world-building. It is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year so far.
I can’t wait to see what happens next! It is going to be a long, hard wait!! Congratulations to Margaret Owen! She is definitely on my list of new favorite authors!