Book: “The Storm Crow” by Kalyn Josephson
Publishing Info: Sourcebooks Fire, July 2019
Where Did I Get this Book: NetGalley
Book Description: In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.
That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.
But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.
Review: Whatever my feelings ultimately were for this book (an ominous beginning if ever there was one), there is no denying that it has beautiful cover art. That, coupled with an intriguing description of a world built around the powerful abilities of magical crows, made it a pretty easy decision to request a copy from NetGalley. However, while the book does a lot of things right, most especially for its representation of a main character who is struggling with depression, it never quite clicked for me.
Thia’s life literally crashes and burns around her when her city is attacked by invading enemies, killing her mother and all of the magical crows that serve as the foundation for their culture. Before the disaster, Thia had been on the brink of gaining her own crow and joining the ranks of those who protect and build there country. Now, with that future lost foreer, Thia struggles daily to see what life holds for her. However, the world continues turning, and with new challenges banging on her door (like an unwanted marriage prospect), This is forced to re-engage with the world and begin building a new future for herself and, hopefully, her country.
There were a few things that I really did like about this book. For one, I think the idea of crows with elemental powers is a pretty intriguing idea. Yes, they’re essentially the same as dragons, but whatever. What really made them stand out, however, was the variety of ways that their powers were used. It wasn’t just battle crows, which is the expected route to go with something like this. No, the crows are used in almost every area of life in Thia’s land, including farming, travel, and more. It is because of this deep dependency on crows that the attack and their annihilation hits as hard as it does on Thia’s nation. It wasn’t just their military that was taken out, but basic needs like food and water are struggles without the crows.
The other thing I like is the fact that This struggles with depression. I haven’t experienced this myself, so I can’t speak to how accurate the portrayal is, but I appreciate that it is included in a YA fantasy book like this where you typically only see one type of main character: badass young woman! And Thia definitely does have strength, having to struggle through really tough feelings while her country is also in crisis.
However, even with my appreciation for what the author was trying to do with Thia, I could never really connect with the character. I can’t put my finger on exactly what the struggle was, but I was never fully invested in her plight or in her as a unique character, distinct from all the other YA fantasy heroines one reads about. She was better in theory than in actuality, I guess.
Part of my struggle with the character could also just be simply an off-shoot of my greater struggle with the pacing of the book. Unlike some other books that suffer from a slow start, this book takes off with a bang with the invasion of Thia’s home. From there, naturally, things slow down a bit. But I kept waiting for it all to pick back up as the story progressed. And I waited. And I waited. And it never really happened. The story was simply slow throughout the rest of the book, not helped by the fact that since I wasn’t overly attached to Thia as a character, I wasn’t able to sustain an interest for the character’s sake.
I was also underwhelmed by the end. Combined with the slow pacing of the story, it, and many other plot/character beats felt extremely predictable. There weren’t any huge twists, and what had started out as such an interesting concept, quickly faded into the background as we simply waited for Thia’s crow to hatch.
There is a sequel coming out and I’m mildly curious to see where things go from here. But I have to say, I won’t be racing out to get my hands on it. Likely, I’ll either read it or not simply based on how short or high my TBR pile is at the time. This is by no means a bad book, and for those with personal experience with depression, it may very well be just the book you’re looking for. But for me, from a purely reading-experience point-of-view, I didn’t love this book.
Rating 6: The cool premise died with the crows, unfortunately.
“The Storm Crow” isn’t on many relevant Goodreads lists, but it is on “The Most Beautiful Covers Of 2019.”
Find “The Storm Crow” at your library using WorldCat!