Hooray! Another Duology. I really did like this one. THE MAGIC was amazing. I don’t know if I emphasized that enough, but it’s why I would say to read this book. I loved it. Let’s get into this review then!
Customary warning: This is a reminder that these are my personal opinions. My thoughts and feelings are not your thoughts and feelings. I may not always be the target audience for a book; sometimes I am. If I do not like a book, that doesn’t mean you’ll dislike it. If I love a book or simply like a book, you may hate it. Take everything I say with this knowledge. If it sounds interesting to you despite what I’ve said, then go ahead and read it. You’ll only know you like something if you read it yourself.
That being said… Spoilers ahead.
The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
Synopsis From The Book
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?
Initial Thoughts Before Reading:
Compared to Serpent & Dove this book is startlingly short. I’m okay with that. Truly. It allows me to better get through the mass mess of literature that I have saved for myself to read. This book came in one of my book boxes, and I have no idea what is in store for me (obviously other than the synopsis). Have people loved this? Will I love this. Here is to love, and falling in love, and hoping that this book is amazing.
Initial Thoughts After Reading:
I really liked this book for what it was. It’s another book that I think could have been a really good stand alone if the author just added more pages. Although, I do see where it can go as a duo. Series are always so in, I suppose. It was a fun read and well worth the time it took to read it.
Fie is a Crow, the lowest of the Caste, outcast from all parts of society and only needed to take care of the plague that runs rampant. The Crows are immune to the plague, and thus they have some purpose. Fie’s family’s latest mission involves the crown prince of the kingdom and upon leaving the castle, she and her family discover that her clan chief, Pa, smuggled the (very much so alive) boys out.
A deal is struck with Prince Jasimir and his guard/bodydouble Tavin: once King, Jasimir will ensure the Crow’s protection, but they must get him to his allies. His stepmother is after him, and she wants him dead. The group begins to take Jas to his cousin.
Fie, Jas, and Tavin grow closer, but upon arriving at the supposed safe zone, they are ambushed and Fie is forced to flee with Jas and Tavin alone. The three begin their run to Jas’s only other ally, his aunt and warrior chief. They make their way there. Fie and Tavin grow to have a relationship, but Tavin has to give himself up to help them get there.
They make it to Jas’ aunt and Tavin’s mother, and get word back that their pursuers have hostages. Fie takes Jas to the hostage exchange and uses fire to save them all. The day is saved, the Crows get their support from the Hawks and Jas prepares to fight for his throne.
What I Liked:
Magic system; This is perhaps the first time I have read a magic system that is so open to interpretation. It is a softer magic system. We all know how I don’t like soft magic systems all that often. This one I loved. I loved everything about it. I loved that there were only 1000 witches with powers, but that all the castes were gifted with skills of a specific type. This was so much fun to read.
Lore; I love the little lore that we did get. There was so much invested in the magic and the world that was woven through it. I loved learning of the stories, good and bad, as well as seeing how the different cities were.
Caste System; This was probably the most intricate and complicated of the systems in this book. Each caste has their own rules, values, intricacies, life styles, and cultures. Each city has their own cultures, but when they clash, they clash. I thought this was well done and nicely done. I want to know more about all of these castes. All of them. I also like how learning about them does make one question their own privilege.
Writing style and Dialogue; I liked the vivid nature of it all. The dialogue was particularly good at defining the characters. The world was vivid and I felt as if it were all to real. Loss, fear, and emotions were all too full. The character development was nice as well. All the characters were pushed to question their own set beliefs, and it’s clear even if we only read from Fie’s voice.
Fie; She was entertaining. Do I love her? No. Something about her did drive me up a wall (probably kidnapping the prince to save her family). I did enjoy reading her life and her fighting for her right to exist, so I don’t hate her. I hope that I love her more in the future.
Jasimir/Jas; I liked what I got of him, but he was very pampered. I feel like I would have liked him more if I didn’t read everything from Fie’s perspective. His life is fascinating, especially with the assassination attempts. I want more of him.
Tavin; He’s brilliant, and I’m pretty sure a lot of this comes from the fact that Fie adores him. He is loyal and fully believes in whaat he believes. I’ll fight for him. Thank you.
Other Characters; The other characters were well developed for what could be given to them. It was their personalties that really got me, their dialogue showed that very well.
Diversity and Representation; All the characters are characters of color, or at least the main three were. I’m actually not sure where this is perfectly described, because I might have missed it when reading. I already knew based on the images provided for the fan art on the back of the cover. Additionally Jas is gay (or prefers men specifically) while Tavin is bi.
What I Would Have Liked or Changed:
More on the Villains; I want to know more on Jas’ step mother. I want to know why she is doing what she is doing. That’s all I ask for.
More on the plague and why it spreads; I just want to know why it is called the “sinner’s plague.” I need to know. I hope the second book addresses this, as it was such a pivotal part of the first book.
Time Taken To Read
2hrs 52 min
“Give them fire… Give them fear.” – pg 83
“When you act in anger, you have already lost your battle.” – pg 101
‘They were all short lives. She’d just wanted to spend more of hers with him.’ – pg 367