I’ve read several fantasy books with characters that have a connection to a magical animal: dragons, phoenixes, pegasi, etc. But The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson introduces elemental, warrior crows and they are so freaking cool. Now I want all the stories with magical creatures.
For the kingdom of Rhodaire, elemental crows are everything. When the Illucian empire invades and destroys all the crows, Rhodaire is brought to its knees. Princess Anthia cannot move past the tragic night where she lost everything, including her dream of becoming a crow rider. When she discovers a hidden crow egg among the rubble, a plan to bring back the crows begins to stir. But then she’s forced into an arranged marriage with Ericen, prince of Illucia, and she finds herself far away from her kingdom, the people she trusts, and her only hope for hatching the egg.
Obviously, my favorite aspect of the book are the crows. I love how detailed Kalyn Josephson is with her crow creation. There are different types of crows and each type has specific abilities that contribute to the welfare of the country. Seeing the before and after of the destruction of the crows helped me understand the complexities of Josephson’s world-building. While this book only touched on two of the countries of Kythra and hinted at the others, I could tell Josephson has grasped the scope of her book and put in the effort for her world-building.
As for Thia, she’s an admirable protagonist. I like her gumption and willingness to do whatever it takes to help her country all the while not giving up who she is. Her battle against the queen of Illucia may not be with fists or swords, but Thia has a spirit that is not easily broken and it shows. I also appreciate how Josephson depicted Thia’s depression. It’s not something that just fades over time or goes away because she has things to do. It sticks with her, and she fights a battle against it every single day. Despite it, though, she can still live her life and fight for her people. And that, more than anything else in the book, is a powerful message.
I like most of the other characters. I love Thia’s relationship with her sister, and how realistic it’s depicted. They aren’t perfect sisters, but they are there for each other. Kiva, Thia’s best friend/bodyguard, is a riot, and I love her stubbornness and strength, especially at Thia’s side. Ericen, the prince, is tricky, though. I prefer him to the other love interest, but I’m also tired of the whole “secret good guy pretending to be the bad boy” trope. It’s flaky. I have high hopes for him in the sequel, and I’m crossing my fingers for an epic redemption arc.
The Storm Crow, however, isn’t a very action-y book. There are pockets of action, especially at the beginning and the end, but much of the middle is more focused on maneuvering through relationships and political manipulations. This doesn’t mean it wasn’t good, but it wasn’t what I initially expected. I definitely wanted more crow action, and I’m hoping book two will fulfill this wish.
The biggest pitfall for me was the romance/sort of love triangle. The first half of the book builds up this complicated relationship with Ericen, hinting that there is more to him than meets the eye, and then randomly in the middle a second guy is introduced and Thia is immediately in love with him. It didn’t feel genuine or necessary for the over-arching plot of the story.
Overall, The Storm Crow is a noteworthy debut that fans of YA fantasy won’t want to miss. It introduces a new take on the magical creature link and provides a realistic depiction of depression amid the fantasy elements. I look forward to the sequel.