You know when you go into reading a book and you really have no idea what to expect? I think I’ve asked this existential reader question before. From personal experience, I understand that there are two possible outcomes for something like this.
A) Either you are confused the whole way through and you have no idea what is truly going on.
B) You come out pleasantly surprised and full of feeellllzzz
Thankfully after reading this book, fully unaware of anything about it, I came out more in the option B category.
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
Pub Date: July 30th, 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Price: $25.99 CAD
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?
*I read an ARC sent by Raincoast books!*
Fie: I’m not really a big user of the word “rad” but if I do use it I now have the perfect entity to which compare anyone or anything else’s radness. Because let me tell you Fie is 100% my definition of rad. She was an incredible character to say the least. Her family values alongside her own morals, goals and hopes were so intriguing. She would literally do anything for her fam (which Hi yes I relate to most definitely), but she also had that side of her that wished she wasn’t so part of the community she was in. I loved that this story explored how hard it was for her to be in the community she was but also be herself and defy the values that have been engraved in her so that she could save her family. I just really enjoyed reading about her journey, her struggle to accept that she wasn’t a carbon copy of every other member of her caste, but that she chose to branch out and break through the rigid class lines. That’s not to say that she doesn’t embrace her people, but through many obstacles she comes to learn that her breaking the cycle is what needs to be done.
I tried to make sense of that too. Just know that I loved her.
ON A FUN NOTE: I didn’t know exactly how to pronounce her name. I wasn’t sure if it was Fee or F-eye. SO throughout the whole book whenever I read her name in my head I would actually read Fee–Feye–Fo-Fum. How tragic.
Tavin: I tried hard to put up a brave face against him too, but I am a sucker for charmers and charm me away he did. Although we didn’t get a perspective from Tav, he does go through a lot of growth. There are prejudices to unlearn and bigotry that he has to recognize in himself and his own caste. What I really liked about him was how much heart he had and that he was willing to die so many times for others. It’s not surprising he had a self-sacrificing complex because that literally was his job. His little secret I guessed at..but was still super surprised.
Jasimir: So this relationship started out very rocky. Why? Because I did not like him for 70% of this book. Oh geez. Um. How do I even explain this. If we need to talk about growth, then Jas is one who definitely needed to grow. He needed to learn the difference between sympathy and empathy because as much as he felt sorry for those who were suffering around him he did little to make a difference or to show his compassion. AND THIS FRUSTRATED ME like it did Fie. But then we get to that 30% and he really starts to change and stops being the brat I had been calling him and that is why he is in the liked category. There is definitely still a lot to come from him, so I’m looking forward to it and hopefully we don’t revert back to the mess he was before.
The World and It’s Politics
A caste system based on different birds. Um YES. This was actually so cool. It was a harsh system no doubt and I wouldn’t exactly want to part of this world but it was an interesting take on a caste system. It is an unfair world in which the Crow Caste, Fie’s people, are treated like less than dirt, hunted to extinction, yet are so critical to aiding the other castes from a plague. Fie spoke so much truth, I was nodding my head and agreeing with her so much. The extent to which the Crows were mistreated was so mind-boggling, but you can’t help but look through history of the real world and find the parallels that run through it.
It is in the teeth. TEETH. Owen really put magic in teeth and I am 1000% on board with this. I loved that each bird had it’s special power, I loved that the teeth could call on the power of the people who once lived but also allow the crows to relive those lives in memories. I don’t want to say much because I want you to experience the glorious magic when you read this book.
BUT THE BEST PART. I had gotten my wisdom teeth removed when I read this book so reading about bloody, magical teeth was such great irony I couldn’t help but love it more.
Slow burn, enemies-to-lovers that shipped with my entire being. Thank you very much.
There was an abundance of diversity in terms of sexuality and gender identity. Jasimir is gay, and I’m pretty sure Tav is pansexual because he says he doesn’t care for gender. There is a non-binary side character. There are also characters of colour throughout the novel. And these are more than just quite side characters but major persons in the novel that are critical to the plot!
It’s a lot of walking. A lot of journeying. So the action was not the most prominent thing. I am an action kind of girl, I live for the thrill of the fictional fight. And there are plenty of action scenes still I felt like there was a lot of slow movement that had me teetering on the edge of disengagement.
Overall, I super duper enjoyed this one. I think the characters just did it for me. I think Fie completely won me over and I loved her story and everything to do with her. The writing was wonderful, the pace a little slow, but the overall story was a very powerful one!
Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars
Recommend: YES! I think lots of readers will like this one!
Let me know what you think! Have you read this? Are you looking forward to reading it? What kind of bird would you want to resemble? A weird question, I know.