Title: The Merciful Crow
Author: Margaret Owen
Genre: YA Fantasy
Source: Library (borrowed)
One Sentence Synopsis
Fie, a future chieftain, is saddled with a runaway prince and his bodyguard as they try to escape the queen’s plot to murder them.
“It wasn’t that [Fie] wanted to burn the world down, no. She just wanted the world to know that she could.”
In Margaret Owen’s debut novel, we find ourselves in the world of the Crows. The Crows are the lowest caste in the land, burdened with the task of being mercy killers and body burners in a country ravaged by plague. The other castes look down their noses at the Crows, but they always make sure to pay for their services. And the Crows, though they are treated like worse than dirt by most and hunted by some, always answer the beacon’s call. One day, Fie, a chieftain-in-training, is faced with an interesting proposal: a prince on the run offers her people royal protection in exchange for their help in overthrowing the ruthless queen. Fie agrees but, as is usually the case, gets a lot more than she bargained for.
I picked this book up on a whim at the library because I’d been hearing some buzz about it on Twitter. I wasn’t sure what I was getting into exactly, but the synopsis hooked me and any book that has “GIVE THEM FIRE. GIVE THEM FEAR.” on the cover instantly has my interest. Still, I honestly wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did! And it has everything to do with the character’s and this author’s way with words.
Can we talk about how I would die for Fie? Fie is everything I love in a female lead character. She is strong-willed and not afraid to speak her mind, though her life has made her very good at knowing when to hold her tongue. She’s intelligent and a quick thinker. She knows what she wants and she fights hard to get it. Not to mention her heart. She has such a big heart. She loves her band of Crows and she would (and does) go through hell for them. I found myself instantly drawn to Fie. I honestly think that connection is what made this such a quick read.
And it wasn’t just Fie! I fell for the cunning bodyguard, a Hawk named Tavin. I fell for everyone in Fie’s merry band of Crows. I even kind of liked the prince, Jasimir. Kind of… Either way, the characters made this book impossible to put down. I had to know what was going to happen to them!
It helped that the story itself was pretty solid. The intrigue! The social commentary! The romance! I don’t even usually enjoy romance in my YA fantasy but this one was… *chef’s kiss* The pacing was perfect, fast-paced enough to keep me flying through the pages but not to the point that I felt lost. And I was invested, y’all. I needed to know what was going to happen to my disaster children! I think my one gripe was that I did get a little confused with who was related to who, but that’s probably more a “me” problem, haha.
Final thoughts: The Merciful Crow is a powerhouse of a debut. It lit a fire in my belly that can only be quenched with the next book. If you enjoy a thought-provoking and fast-paced adventure story with a kick-ass woman taking charge, you’re going to love this book.
Happy reading, y’all!