Genre: Fantasy Age Range: YA Star Rating: 5 stars Series: yes - second book of duology
*SPOILER ALERT: contains SPOILERS for THE MERCIFUL CROW*
As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfil his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signalling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s merciless bid for the throne.
With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever.
A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze.
Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.
I’m so glad I finally got around to finishing off this duology. I’m just going to chalk this delay up to covid, because I’m not quite sure why it took me almost two years to read this book. This books takes the dark, brutal world of THE MERCIFUL CROW, and delves into both the politics of the royal court (!!!!) and the history behind the mythology.
Naturally, I loved the royal court stuff. Fie is undercover trying to gain information and find a way to bring the queen down. Hello and welcome to backstabbing nobles, disguises and subterfuge, lots of misdirection, and naturally balls. It’s just a bundle of things I love, all wrapped up in Fie’s incredible voice.
Voice is often not something I pay attention to in books, but it utterly jumps out at you in these books. It feels like such a distinct voice and really helps you believe that this is someone’s narration. There are all these quirks that form a consistent dialect for the narrator, and it’s a different dialect to the characters speaking around Fie. The sheer amount of work and attention to detail it takes to do that is mind-boggling. But it’s worth it as a reader because it adds so much to this book.
As for the mythology, we get the origin of the various witches in this book, not to mention the history of the crow caste (and how people would get lumped with dealing with dead bodies.) It leads to some pretty spectacular changes in the magic system, all bending and warping around the Covenant, which is acting pretty much as destiny.
I also became a lot more sympathetic to Jas in this book. In the previous entry, I was rather on the fence about him. I really liked him as a character with a purpose in the story – annoying, very sheltered and privileged and unwilling to change until a lot of brutal truths hit him (which led to very interesting dynamics) – but I didn’t know if I liked him. This book really changed my mind on that to actually liking him. He’s learnt a lot and is willing to change, is trying to change himself – and that’s a really nice growth arc.
The only problem about finishing this book is that I have to wait until 2023 until the next Margaret Owen book (PAINTED DEVILS, the sequel to LITTLE THIEVES.)
Read my reviews of other books by Margaret Owen:
The Merciful Crow (this series):
- THE MERCIFUL CROW (#1)
- LITTLE THIEVES (#1)