Review: THE STORM CROW By Kalyn Josephson

Publisher: SourcebooksFire
Page Count: 352
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Series: THE STORM CROW, Book 1
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars – Liked it!

Note: A free ARC was provided to me by the publisher in return for a fair and honest review.

38330596In the nation of Rhodaire, giant magical crows affect every aspect of life.  Earth crows till the soil, sun crows heal, battle crows bear riders into battle. Princess Thia has been training for years to eventually ascend to the chief overseer of the crows, while her sister Caliza is destined to be queen.  But when the neighboring kingdom Illucia arranges a sneak attack that kills every single crow in the kingdom, as well as the queen, everything is thrown into question.  With the kingdom crippled without the crows, Caliza is desperate to stop a full invasion from Illucia, and offers Thia’s hand in marriage to the Illucian’s prince.  A few days before Thia is to leave to her new home, however, she discovers a single intact storm crow egg in the wreckage of one of the rookery towers.  This discovery gives Thia new purpose.  What causes the eggs to hatch is a closely guarded secret, but if she can discover the answer, she’ll have not only a weapon, but a beacon of hope that might finally unite the other nations against Illucia.  And Thia will have to pull all of this off while deep in enemy territory at the Illucian court.

One of the strongest aspects of the book is lead character Thia, a character who isn’t default Strong Female Character.  The bulk of the story occurs six months after the attack that killed her mother, destroyed her way of life, and left her with massive burn scars.  Thia has been suffering from depression and PTSD ever since that night. She knows that she’s left her sister with a heavy weight to carry, but her own struggle to simply get out of bed in the morning leaves her useless.  Thia learns ways to cope with her emotional handicaps, however, and finally motivates herself to step up to the plate to begin covertly organizing the coalition against Illucia.  Thia’s depression and PTSD don’t vanish overnight, they’re an ongoing problem she has to fight, making Thia one of the more interesting characters I’ve seen in YA recently.

Then of course there’s the crows themselves.  Although we only see Thia’s homeland briefly before the attack, the author manages to instill an absolute love and wonder of the crows in those short pages, making it devastating when everything is destroyed.  When Thia finally manages to hatch the egg and bond with the last crow, there are some serious HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON vibes happening, as Thia tries to teach the chick how to fly and use its magic.

The rest of THE STORM CROW is solid storytelling, with some hits and misses. Thia has an ongoing battle of wills with Illucian’s Queen Razel, a cruel woman determined to break Thia’s spirit, though occasionally the back and forth felt a bit repetitive.  One of Thia’s better allies, Caylus, isn’t introduced until halfway through the story, and his awkward curiosity about science and magic is a welcome addition to the plot. Ericen, Illucian’s prince, is a character I had more difficulty connecting with because he doesn’t fit easily into any box, which left me struggling to decide if this character was all over the place, or actually complex.  At his core, he seems to be a “good person,” but his desire to prove himself to his mother overrules all his decent impulses, which made it difficult to know which character I was getting in any given moment.

THE STORM CROW is an engaging fantasy tale with court drama and magical companions in equal measure.  While it lacks some of the depth that would have knocked this out of the park for me, I enjoyed the characters and the world enough that I will definitely continue on with this series in the future.  If you like the bond between a girl and a giant magical creature, this is probably right up your alley!

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