Title: The Merciful crow (The Merciful Crow #1)
Author: Margaret Owen
Pub. Date: July 30h 2019
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Henry Holt
I honestly find it so hard to believe Margaret Owen is a debut author given how effortlessly woven this story truly is. I’ve been very particular with the YA Fantasy titles I’ve picked up this year because I don’t want to throw in the towel with this genre just yet. This book however, renewed my interest & has me pretty hyped up for the follow-up. The world this story takes place in is grim with a 500 year plague over the land. There’s a caste system in place that’s derived from the different species of birds: Phoenix, Peacock, Swan, Dove, Hawk, Crane, Owl, Vulture, Gull, Pigeon, Sparrow, and Crow. Each of these have a birthright with the exception of the Crow caste. Birthrights are gifts straight from the Gods; some of which are fire, glamour, blood, wind or hunting. Although the Crow caste doesn’t have a particular birthright, they do have the ability to manipulate bones which therefore grants them temporary power over any of the birthrights. The Crow caste is also the ONLY caste to have full immunity from the plague & are deemed the lowest of the low, cursed by the Gods. This being said, they are fully responsible to answer the call & deliver a merciful death whenever someone has been inflicted by the plague.
We meet Fie, her dad & crew of Crows as they are called to the royal castle to deliver mercy to the Prince and his body double/bodyguard. Things take an interesting turn when they arrive & learn Prince Jasimir has faked his as well as his bodyguard Tavins deaths. The Queen has been attempting to have Prince Jas killed now that she bore the king a son & would like to see him take the throne instead. The Crows make a deal with the Prince, an Oath that can’t be broken in exchange for safety out of the Queens way. The Crows are constantly under threat of violence while on the road & Fie wants to ensure their safety and protection if/when Prince Jasimir takes the throne. The journey begins to get the Prince & his Hawk bodyguard to allies who will help him overthrow the Queen.
If you’re a fan of outcasts & grim worlds with cutthroat royals, this may be just what you’re looking for. I found myself feeling very overprotective of the Crows & their travels in a world where they should’ve been revered or at the very least protected. I can understand some animosity to an extent felt from the loved ones of those hit by the plague whenever they see the Crows show up to deliver a merciful death. The alternative however, would be a very slow and painful death. Those they deliver mercy to are relieved when they show up & the Crows show a lot of respect to those they put to final rest. We get the story told from Fie’s POV as she travels with her Dad, Crows, Prince Jas and Tav. Margaret Owen did a FANTASTIC job of showing us the slow process of enlightenment being bestowed upon the Prince. Jas has many positive traits that will help make him a great leader which is why there are those willing to put their lives at risk to make sure he gets the throne. However, he is very stubborn & that can be irritating but both he & Fie have a lot to learn from each other as leaders. I enjoyed seeing our three main characters interact & evolve on their journey. Last but not least, this is one hella effortlessly diverse story! The kind that doesn’t try hard at all to show how inclusive it really is. In our cast we have a Pan MC, Gay MC, non-binary side character, as well as females in leadership roles. Hella atmospheric, you feel the desperation in the air brought on by the Sinners Plague. There’s also a love story that doesn’t take center stage to the plot which got major brownie points from this here reader. Lastly, I loved that it all doesn’t get tied up neatly for you by the last page yet it does deliver a satisfying conclusion with some hope for a better tomorrow. I will most definitely be pre-ordering the sequel & cannot wait to see how my Crows have been faring.
🖤ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review 🖤
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