Do you ever read a book that just hits you in the gut and over the head and in the face until you have to remind yourself to breathe again? It’s been a while since I read a book that truly gripped me. I’ve read a lot of good books recently, but none of them have grabbed hold of me and refused to let go. Until I read The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen.
Fie is training to become a chief of the Crows, the lowest caste in [country] who are called upon to collect the dead and show mercy to the dying, and she has one rule: look after your own. But when her clan collects from the royal castle only to learn the crown prince faked his death, Fie finds herself unable to refuse a wager that could change everything for her people. After someone she trusts betrays them, Fie is forced to abandon her clan in order to bring the crown prince and his bodyguard to safety. Alone, hunted, and hated by the entire kingdom, Fie sets off on an impossible quest to restore her caste and learn what it means to be a Crow chief.
This was my initial reaction upon finishing this book: *high pitched squaaaaa* (I blame D&D.) From page one, this book swept me away into a world of feathers and teeth and blood and magic.
Fie is my new favorite female protagonist. She’s sassy and stubborn, and she doesn’t give up, even if she’s on the brink of passing out or dealing with impossible odds. She is an inspiration. Her voice is so distinct, which is often rare in YA books these days. I love how Margaret Owen wrote her character, her thought process, the way she speaks and acts. The depth of her characters show not only that Margaret Owen knows her characters, but she knows the world she’s built.
And what a world it is. The castes based on birds, the various magical abilities, the Crows’ teeth magic, and more—this world feels lived in and real. There is this lilt to the writing style that just breathes its own world. Simple word choice and sentence structure give the world it’s own unique shine. It’s not a happy world, and it’s obvious Margaret Owen used the world to open a discussion about privilege and outcasts and how people treat each other of different classes. Over and over, Fie proves that she is more than just a Crow and that being a Crow does not change her ability to save the kingdom.
Full of action, The Merciful Crow is relentless. I’ve read plenty of fantasy books where the basic plot is a quest involving days and days of traveling. But The Merciful Crow balances the “boring” side of travel with action. Fie and her companions are constantly on watch, constantly hiding and moving and fighting. Despite the quest plot line, this book is not boring. Every page, every word propels the story forward.
Full of memorable characters, insane magic and world-building, and non-stop tension, The Merciful Crow is one of the best debuts I’ve read in a while. Due to the mature content in the book, I would recommend this book for an older YA audience that loves fantasy.
2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen”
Sounds like you really enjoyed this one! 😀 I’ll admit, I wasn’t very interested in it until I read how much you loved it.
But: now I know what I’m making for dinner. WAFFLES. That picture is too yummy.
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Yay for waffles!
I’m sure The Merciful Crow isn’t for everybody, but it’s definitely for me! 🙂