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The Merciful Crow

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A future chieftain.

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince.

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.

A too-cunning bodyguard.

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?

384 pages, Hardcover

First published July 30, 2019

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About the author

Margaret Owen

7 books1,610 followers
Born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, Margaret Owen spent her childhood haunting the halls of Powell’s Books. After earning her degree in Japanese, her love of espresso called her north to Seattle, where she worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned.

She now spends her days wrestling disgruntled characters onto the page, and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. (There is surprisingly little difference between the two.)

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5 stars
4,344 (29%)
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288 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,892 reviews
Profile Image for NickReads.
461 reviews1,208 followers
Want to read
September 17, 2021
ever since i read six of crows, everything with crows intrigues me
Profile Image for Margaret Owen.
Author 7 books1,610 followers
October 22, 2018
Wait, I seriously get to rate and review my own book? Rad. So my completely unbiased review is that it made me laugh, cry, and single-handedly put Ben & Jerry's grandchildren through med school. And that was just from writing the dang thing.

Anyway, I hope y'all like it! I made it myself!
Profile Image for jessica.
2,480 reviews29.8k followers
August 25, 2019
you know that moment when youre reading and you lose focus, but your eyes still keep ‘reading,’ so you end up having to backtrack and reread everything you just missed when you zoned out? yeah, that happened to me soooo many times whilst reading this that i lost count. at the halfway point, i started skimming because i just did not have the attention span to fully commit to this.

i mean, i really wanted to love this, but other than a slightly unique magic system, theres not much going for this book that would have otherwise kept me engaged. and i think its the dense writing and repetitive nature of the narrative that is so off-putting. also, i think anyone who isnt a native english speaker will have a difficult time with this, just because the writing is just so forced and crowded.

sure, its a nice effort for a debut, but this really isnt anything i havent read before. definitely an unpopular opinion, i know. but hey, what can you do? guess i could round up my rating, at least.

2.5 stars
Profile Image for Angelica.
803 reviews1,003 followers
June 22, 2020
I came for the crows. I stayed because I had already given up a couple of hours of my life and I might as well finish.

That said, I wasn’t too invested in the story or the characters and especially not in the romance.

It wasn’t at all memorable. It’s now August and I promise you that by the time the year ends I won’t remember a single thing. I probably won’t even remember the main character’s names.

This book starts interestingly enough. Fie’s group of Crows is sent to burn the plague-infected corpses of the crown prince and his bodyguard. Things take a turn when it turns out that the prince and his guard aren’t dead at all, and that they faked their deaths to keep the prince from dying at the hands of his evil stepmother as she plots to sit on the throne.

With a premise like that you’d think that the story would be full of adventure and fun and fights and being on the run?

Well, yes and no.

The book does have an adventure, I guess. It’s just so gosh darn repetitive! It isn’t fun or creative. Its actually all pretty gosh darn boring and I wanted to skip through some parts.

I also wasn’t a huge fan of the writing style or the world-building. I had so many questions, but I also didn’t really care to know the answers.

Then there were the characters.

I didn’t like any of them.

None of them were memorable, to me. That said, some were better than others.

Fie, the MC, was interesting enough but she kind of annoyed me after a while. I could only handle so much of her. Jasimir was the single most annoying character in this book. Every time he opened his mouth I wanted to reach my hand into the book and slap him. He was such a brat. He was spoiled and childish and just plain ugh! If you’re going to make a character like this, at least make him interesting. Sadly, Jasimir wasn’t.

Then there was Tavin. He was likable enough. He might have been my favorite here…if only he weren’t so generic. I’ve read his exact character profile too many times before.

And the romance between Tavin and Fie? Laughable. Cliche. Rushed. Entirely unbelievable. Mostly, it was utterly predictable and extremely boring.

All the other characters, from Fie’s group of Crows to the people hunting them, to the evil queen were all so generic and so forgettable. I can’t possibly tell you anything about any of their personalities.

I also wasn’t a fan of the caste system. I’ve seen so many caste systems in YA fantasy lately that they honestly have started to bore me, and this one wasn’t even remotely interesting or new, other than the fact that the castes are named after birds. The power system was also confusing and at points made no sense.

Also, this is just cause I’m a hater, but why are the people with fire powers always in charge? You’d think the kings and queens would be the ones who have the power to manipulate people’s minds? Or the ones who are immune to the plague that’s killing everyone? Or literally anyone else? But in every single story, the 'firebenders' are always in charge of things! I guess fire is cool.

Also, also, this just made no sense to me personally and it’s the fact that everyone wants to kill the Crows. The Crows are the only people keeping everyone alive. If there are no Crows, everyone in the country would die of the plague. Hunting and killing the Crows put the entire world at risk! It really makes no sense to me that everyone would want to hunt them down. You wouldn't go out of your to kill doctors and nurses, why would anyone kill the Crows?!?!?!?!

But again, maybe I’m just hating now.

The one thing I will say is there are some racial allegories buried deep somewhere in here. Mostly in the fact that the Crows are being hunted and killed by a group of racist ‘vigilantes’ in white robes, that think they are doing the work of the gods by getting rid of the pests of the world.

Make of that what you will.

All that said, I didn’t hate the book. It wasn’t the worst I’ve read this year. I just probably won’t remember a single thing about it come December. I also have absolutely no interest in the sequel. I probably won't even remember I read thi sby the time the sequel even comes around.

Lastly, I am 100% here for this cover. It’s so pretty and so interesting! If only the story lived up to it!

**I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.**
July 22, 2019

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DNF @ 66%

So, I guess the new YA trend isn't just to write books that are derivative, but also to title them in derivative ways, as well? If so, good plan, because THE MERCIFUL CROW is a book that feels like dozens of books I've read before. Caste-based fantasy with an assassination plot gone wrong, and a plot to overthrow an evil ruler with a band of crude-talking underdogs. Yep.

I'm extra salty because my luck with books has been amazing lately, and I've absolutely loved some of the YA offerings that 2019 has brought me, but THE MERCIFUL CROW just didn't cut it. The heroine, Fie, was so annoying. I just couldn't stand her attitude or her smugness or her personality. She was the worst. I thought naming all the castes after birds was super lame, and didn't really understand what the point of the caste system was or what they even did (and no, the index didn't help).

The writing was great, but nice writing doesn't do anything for me if the world-building is a disorganized mess and I hate the main character. I probably could have forced myself to finish this if I'd really tried, but I didn't want to try. Who names their cat Barf? Oh, and guess what, the Crows have a stupid dance called "Money Dance" when they want to be paid. They actually stomp around and everyone acts like it's sooooo scary. LOL, no. Goodbye, book.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! 

1 star
Profile Image for Sara.
195 reviews141 followers
September 7, 2019
this is an amazing story full of action and an unique magic system with dark atmosphere , an amazing female lead who is complex , rude and stands up for what she believe for , she is trown in this adventure with an spoiled prince who I hated in the beginning and loved in the end , tavin who is snarky , brave and fun , this is an amazing world and the magic is so intresting , just pick this up if you love quests, high stakes, adventure with a lot of danger and loves crow's , gave this book of coure 5 stars and recommend this for sure to the fantasy lovers out there !
Profile Image for Lucy.
412 reviews595 followers
May 3, 2020

While this book was a bit slow in places, the details of the caste system and the tooth magic interested me enough to keep reading.

Fie was a great character. She is a member of the Crow Caste- the lowest caste there is- tasked with travelling the roads to mercifully kill those who are infected with the plague. Interestingly, this plague never effects the Crows and rarely effects the highest class- the Phoenix’s.

One day, her and her group- with her Pa as chief- are summoned to the palace and tasked with mercifully killing and taking the bodies of Prince Jasimir and Tavin (Prince Jasimir’s body double) who have been supposedly infected by the plague. Fie discovers that they have faked their deaths and now the Crow’s are more involved with the politics of court than they ever thought they would be, with awful consequences. Tasked with protecting these 2 men, Fie must travel with them and face and fight many obstacles that stand in the groups way from getting to a safe place.

This book piqued my interest as the caste system in this book (all based on birds) was wonderfully detailed. The author focused on how Crows, being the lowest caste, were treated so unfairly by those “higher” than them. The author also detailed all of the threats that exist to a Crow’s life- sudden disappearances, brutal killings, not receiving education or proper jobs, threats to their lives and livelihood. Having Fie as a main character, who is part of the Crow caste, solidified the tough and unfair life of being a Crow, and having no freedom due to who you are born to.

However we learn that Fie is a rare type of Crow- she is a Crow witch- which allows her to use the teeth from other castes and this gives her a variety of powers. The detail and explanations of what this tooth magic could do and what it was used for captivated my attention. The use of tooth magic reminded me of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series by Laini Taylor (which I enjoyed) so I was highly intrigued by this book.

This book was overall enjoyable, it piqued my interest with the caste system and tooth magic, Fie was headstrong and a realist, and there was some humour throughout the book.
Profile Image for Tricia Levenseller.
Author 15 books12.1k followers
October 20, 2019
This is—hands down—the best book I’ve read this year! Fie is an amazing protagonist—the kind you don’t want to mess with. The love interest is extra swoony. The magic is deliciously unique, making me wish I’d come up with it myself.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,337 reviews1,822 followers
July 31, 2019
I’m super glad I’ve just bemoaned all the disappointing YA fantasy so far this year because the universe sat up, said, ‘oh yeah?’, and tugged the rug right out from under me.

Bookies, I present to you : THE MERCIFUL CROW. I knew nothing about this before beginning (#TeamNoBlurbs) and was delighted at every turn the story took.

This world is made up of Castes centered around various birds : Crows at the bottom, Pheonixes at the top. We see the world through the Crows’ eyes; they are mercy killers, resistant to the plague that sweeps the nation, able to draw power from teeth (it sounds weird but it’s so cool), and overwhelmingly reviled by everyone else. They are spit upon, treated abominably, and yet every dying soul calls to them for mercy. They keep the realm safe because without them plague would run rampant, everyone would die. And yet..

Fie and her father’s band of Crows are called to the kingdom to dispose of two bodies. This is a rare event because royals, for whatever reason, haven’t been struck down by the plague in centuries. And when they are moments away from burning the corpses.. it turns out they are far less dead than everyone thought. And that one of them is the prince.

THE MERCIFUL CROW then goes on to weave a breakneck tale of disaster, betrayal, acceptance, more disasters, more betrayals, and on and on. This world was so rich and fascinating and holy forking hell was it diverse and delicious. Skin colour, sexuality, talk of periods.. Owens tackled them all without ever feeling like she was checking off a box for including one element of another. I loved that so so much. It felt effortless. Infact her writing in general was smooth and fierce and fraught with emotion. Just like her characters.

My one complaint is that, and it might be my fault for missing it though I’m not sure I did, I’m not entirely clear why there is a plague in this world. It was never explained. But I thought every other bit was. Jasimir, the prince, was mostly a naive, spoiled, shit — as one expects — but through him we get a closer look at the prejudice and discrimination and ignorance of this world and the thoughtlessness (which is the kindest form of treatment they ever receive) towards the Crows. How the whole world is built on hating these people.. and yet relying on them. How no one has thought to question why or wonder about them. Or treat them as something more than trash. It was insidious, underlying every interaction or belief, and the author did a fabulous job at making this treatment abhorrent without ever making the story depressing. Just tense and brutal.

As for Fie, our lead and sole POV, she was.. wow. Brave and angry, fierce and uncompromising, full of doubt as she remained strong. She burned herself out, sacrificing not only for her people but for two individuals who hadn’t known her name, hadn’t cared about her Caste until they needed her; time and time again she pushed herself. For a promise, for the hope of a better future, even if it meant she wouldn’t see it herself.

We also had a love interest and I won’t say I saw it coming but.. I did. And that was okay because I was totally onboard, totally shipping it, and the fact that we had some excellent exchanges around consent as well as discussion around sex itself..? Hello hi here for more of this in YA please.

When it comes to the ending, I’m also a huge fan of it. This is apparently a series (duology? trilogy? don’t know) and yet the ending was perfect. I am so satisfied and yet curious and excited and maybe a bit worried. Nothing has really resolved and yet it doesn’t really feel like anything is left hanging, either. It’s a great balance. But that doesn’t mean I won’t be clamouring for book two.

I’m totally shocked this is the author’s debut and highly anticipate this’ll be something of a surprise hit for many readers. You definitely need to keep this one on your radar. I totally recommend.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **


This review can also be found at A Take From Two Cities.
Profile Image for Beth.
658 reviews566 followers
December 15, 2020
Re-read 26.09.20

Honestly enjoyed it just as much the second time around ALSOOO very glad I re-read because I forgot something that is MAJOUR and is of kicked myself! Can’t wait to pick up the Faithless Hawk now :)


I’ve been going backwards and forwards with what rating to give this and I’ve decided it’s a 5 Stars for me!

Just to put this out there it took me a while to get into it because the magic system was very unique and there were lots of different Castes with different abilities but I honestly loved it! I genuinely struggled to read the first 50ish pages and you have to pay attention to it otherwise it may end up going over your head.

I genuinely loved the characters, especially Fie, Tavin and Jasimir! Hopefully I can write a fuller review but these are just my quick thoughts! I’m genuinely so excited for the next book and I have no idea what to expect!

The Merciful Crow - 5 Stars
The Faithless Hawk - 4 Stars
Profile Image for Anissa.
67 reviews892 followers
February 10, 2019
This book felt so different - the way it read, the characters, the world. It was so unique and whilst there was so much to the world building I loved how more and more was revealed as I went along. Fie is a firecracker, I love her.
Profile Image for Amy Imogene Reads.
882 reviews760 followers
August 14, 2020
So this is apparently an odd opinion...but this really, really worked for me. (I think mostly because of the teeth.)

Concept: ★★★★
Twist on YA tropes: ★★★★★
Surprise factor: ★★★★
Enjoyment: ★★★★★

A mini rant: It's times like these where I really, really wish Six of Crows wasn't such a YA titan that is universally—and sometimes violently—loved. I don't mean ANY disrespect for fans of the duology as I am a fan myself, but I think that The Merciful Crow was prematurely dismissed by some in the YA community for its title, and the mere fact that it had to do with a caste of people called "Crows." Which is nuts, as this book was not even the same thing, at all.

Fie is a Crow, a chief-in-training, and she travels with other Crows from town to town. They are the lepers, the bottom caste, the forced nomads, the ones that everyone else can use and abuse. But the Crows have one thing that the other bird castes of the land do not—they are the only ones who are immune from the Plague. When someone gets the plague, the smoke is lit, and the Crows come calling.

They take care of the sick and dying and they honor the dead. The land may mock them, hurt them, and execute them, but when the people become ill it is the Crows to whom they beg. And the Crows always come, and they always show mercy.

The world of The Merciful Crow is divided into several bird castes. This is not a shape shifting novel—there are no actual birds involved. But each caste of bird is a different social class, and each caste has their own Birthright magic, which displays in some of their castes' witches. It's an intriguing finesse of some standard fantasy decisions, and if that was the only twist on this story's magic, I would have been disappointed. But it wasn't—there are also the teeth.

Fie and the other Crow chiefs have a special way with teeth and bones. But specifically, teeth. When Fie touches a tooth, she knows the life of its owner and can call on the innate Birthright magic of the tooth for her own use. So, in essence, if Fie is holding the right tooth.... she can use any of the realm's powers at her disposal. The Crows are ignored by everyone else, so this power goes relatively unnoticed by the other castes...at their own peril.

Fie's life changes when their chief saves the royal Phoenix son of the crown. The prince and his bodyguard are on the run. The Crows are trapped—if they don't help the prince, they’ll be killed. If they help the prince, then its up to the Crows to help the prince at their own risk... and once they've finished, be forced back to their life of abuse and uncertainty. It's a lose-lose situation for the Crows, and they know it.

But Fie refuses to accept the terms, and she draws an oath from the prince: if the Crows do this, they deserve a seat at the table. They want to be protected and respected. No more murders, no more abuse. To her surprise, the prince and his bodyguard agree.

Now they just need to get him to safety.

Things I loved:
The focus on the plague. I'm a morbid historian at heart, and this focus was great—it has its roots in the Black Death's plague doctors (complete with their masks, etc.) but there are also other elements in there too. I also loved (wrong word choice given the negative connotations...) the parallels between what happens to the Crows on the road with the dark American history of the KKK raids in the South—the parallels are intentional, and well done. Also, THE TEETH. Great magical element, thoroughly enjoyed its integration and how it was used consistently throughout the novel. Really nice, really unique, made it memorable. And, one final yet big favorite:

Things I didn't love:
How short this was. I would have gladly read a novel twice this length.

Blog | Instagram
May 6, 2020
The Merciful Crow es un libro que nos ubica en un mundo que se ha dividido por castas y por las habilidades que tengan las personas. Lo curioso es que todas las castas tienen nombres de aves, siendo los Fénix los más importantes y los Cuervos aquellos a los que todo el mundo mira con desdén. Pero la cosa aquí es que este mundo no podría vivir sin los Cuervos, pues son las personas que se encargan de repartir misericordia y de disponer de los cuerpos de quienes están infectados o mueren por la plaga. Además, los Cuervos pueden acceder a un tipo de magia muy escalofriante a través de los dientes de quienes han muerto.

Nuestra historia empieza cuando Fie y su bandada de Cuervos son convocados para disponer de dos cuerpos en el palacio real. La gente está en shock, pues la creencia popular es que los Fénix no pueden enfermarse de la plaga, pero ahí están los Cuervos haciendo su trabajo. Poco después de recolectar el pago y de salir del palacio, Pa, el líder de la bandada, les revela a sus compañeros que nadie está muerto y que los bultos que transportan en su carreta son el príncipe Jasimir y Tavin, su guardaespaldas Halcón. Ambos hicieron un trato con Pa, pues la reina quiere deshacerse del príncipe y empezar un reinado de terror. El príncipe, cuando sea rey, se asegurará de que los Cuervos siempre tengan protección contra la Cofradía de las Adelfas y, a cambio, el líder Cuervo les procurará un camino seguro hasta la ciudad de sus aliados. Pero no todo es tan fácil como parece y muy pronto empezarán los problemas.

Creo que The Merciful Crown es un libro tremendamente diferente en cuanto a su división social de castas y su sistema de magia. La manera en la que funcionan los dientes es a la vez increíble y aterradora. Además, toda la historia me da unas vibes tremendas a las grandes epidemias que azotaron Europa en siglos pasados, cuando había doctores de la peste con máscaras de cuervos rondando las ciudades y tratando de salvar lo insalvable.

Otro de los puntos interesantes se va revelando sobre el final, hay secretos muy bien guardados sobre el origen de cierto personaje y, en mi opinión, esa es la razón que me hará leer el siguiente libro. Porque, y tengo que confesarlo, en general la historia se me hizo bastante lenta y tuve serios problemas con la actitud de la protagonista.

Entiendo que Fie está indignada y enojada, después de todo es un Cuervo y todo el mundo la ha tratado como escoria toda la vida, pero no podía soportar que página tras página, capítulo tras capítulo, su actitud siempre fuera defensiva y repelente. Lleva tanta rabia en su interior que a veces se me hacía muy tedioso leerla. Además, vale, enójate un rato, ¿pero todo el tiempo? Qué agotador. Y creo que esa rabia juega un poco en su contra, pues cuando pasan ciertas cosas que la hacen cambiar de actitud, no lo creemos, se lee muy forzado. O, al menos, así lo sentí yo.

Para mí, el personaje más interesante fue Tavin. Vaya chico tan lleno de secretos y matices. Es espectacular. Te entrenan toda la vida para ser una sombra, para proteger a alguien más y sacrificarte por él, cuando en realidad sabes que eres mucho más y debes esconderlo por tu propio bien. Lo amé.

Pero, en fin, siento que no disfruté tanto The Merciful Crown por su protagonista, pero lo redimo por Tavin y por la cantidad de preguntas que me quedaron al terminarlo. ¿Qué onda con la Cofradía de las Adelfas? ¿De dónde salen y por qué tienen tanto poder? ¿Usarán el secreto de Tavin para tomar ventaja en algún momento? ¿Fie dejará de ser desesperante? ¿El príncipe tendrá los pantalones de enfrentarse a su madrastra y reclamar lo que es suyo? Y, sobre todo, ¿tendrá el poder de cumplir las promesas que le hizo a los Cuervos?
Profile Image for myo (myonna reads).
649 reviews6,085 followers
June 12, 2021
pretty mediocre, nothing that really sets it apart from any other fantasy, not there needs to be anything that does but i’ve just read this many times before. romance was meh
Profile Image for Jessy MelodyofBooks.
224 reviews1,573 followers
January 30, 2021
Hach, ich mochte das Buch und gleichzeitig war es manchmal komisch.. ich hatte das Gefühl, dass die Figuren nur am wandern waren. Das worldbuilding und die Idee mit den Kasten in vogelform waren ziemlich cool, ebenso wie die Geschichte rund um die sündenseuche. Aber irgendwie konnte mich manchmal der schreibstil nicht so ganz mitnehmen und ich hab zwischenzeitlich einfach mal den Faden verloren. Hinzu kam, dass mit Jasimir irgendwann echt auf die Nerven gegangen ist .. stur und tavin fand ich aber ziemlich cool. Ich denke der zweite band bietet viel Potenzial, welches er hoffentlich ausschöpfen können wird.
Profile Image for Vicky Again.
583 reviews819 followers
Want to read
April 4, 2019
I was told by the author that I would probably enjoy this book after I showed her a jar of human teeth*.

Interpret that as you will. I, however, am excited 😈

*they're my baby teeth okay!!! i'm not a creeper!!!
Profile Image for Umairah (Sereadipity).
188 reviews108 followers
July 27, 2019
The Merciful Crow was an intriguing read about a world plagued by prejudice and hierarchy and the people fighting for justice.

Plot: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Writing: 5/5

Review originally published on Sereadipity

The world building was excellent because it was very original and I was gradually fed more information as I read as opposed to a boring info dump at the start of the book. I also loved the magic system and the way it functioned in the novel.

The people were split into twelve castes and each one had a birthright gifted to them by their gods. Each caste was named after a bird. For example, the Phoenix caste (the caste of royalty) had the birthright of fire. However, the lowest caste- the Crows- were born with no birthright and were treated appallingly by the other castes. Hunted and abused by the Oleander gentry, shunned in every town and city, every day was a fight for survival for a Crow.

Crows were the only people who were immune to a highly contagious disease called the Sinners' Plague which was impossible to survive. Therefore, they were necessary as they served as mercy killers for those who fell ill with the plague and were the only ones who could safely dispose of the bodies. They even wore the scary plague masks that people used to wear during the time of the bubonic plague which I thought was cool. Every time they took away a body they were payed by the town or village by whatever they could afford.

Despite the essential work that Crows did, people were still hostile towards them. This made me feel really sad because if the Crows didn't take the bodies of the infected away from the town or village and burn them, the disease would spread like wildfire throughout and everyone would die. I couldn't understand how the other castes could be so cruel and ungrateful to the people who were saving their lives.

I found it ironic that people claimed that Crows had no birthright because being immune to a deadly disease seems like a very precious gift. Furthermore, teeth and bones from other castes held a small amount of power that some Crows were able to harness. For example, a Crow could use a tooth from someone from the Phoenix caste to wield some fire magic. The way I saw it was that people decided to disdain Crows and say that they were cursed by the gods to make themselves feel important and superior because in reality Crows did have abilities that were extremely useful.

Fie was a Crow and a future chieftain and she was bound by a covenant bond to the fugitive prince Jasimir and his too-cunning bodyguard Tav to lead them safely to their allies in return for Jasimir promising to give more rights to the Crows when he became king. They went on a long and bloody quest to save their land from tyranny and bring about justice.

Fie was incredibly stubborn but she had a strong sense of loyalty and responsibility. I liked her because she was never afraid to stand up to those who sought to take away her rights.

At the beginning, I hated Jasimir because he was pompously annoying but his character developed greatly over the book and he went from a petty prince to a just king.

Tav was very resourceful and was good at getting into the good graces of others using his charm. He was also very loyal but after spending most of his life as Jasimir's bodyguard and body double, he started to wish for a life of his own.

However, the one thing I didn't understand was why their were no measures in place about how Crows harnessed the birthrights in teeth and bones because if people despised them so much why would they allow them to have so much power.

Overall, I enjoyed this book very much and I liked how it dealt with themes of loyalty and prejudice. It is a book I would recommend to fans of fantasy bored of the standard tropes.

Thank you to Macmillan for providing me with a review copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
618 reviews234 followers
December 23, 2022
If there's a bird in the title, the book is almost certainly a banger....

“Mercy was a chief’s gift. Inflicting it was their answer.”

The crows siphon merciful death. As the lowest caste in society, they are untouched by magic, but also untouched by the sickness raging through the land. People fear the crows and look down upon them, waiting for the day a crow must carry their beloved's plague-ridden body away from the castes susceptible to its harm.

This was such an intriguing world and storyline, with a fun main trio consisting of a prince, his bodyguard and a girl training to become a crow chief. The magic system was really easy to follow wherewith each caste being named after a bird, given a separate ‘birthright’ by their corresponding god (save for the Crows, whose god gave them nothing). Its quirks were pretty interesting too, with the crows able to harness any caste’s magic through the possession of their teeth. The plot did seem a little stagnant throughout the middle portion of the book, though I was never ‘bored’ with anything, always intrigued by something else like the characters, the magic or otherwise.

Fie’s eventual romance was surprisingly sweet, with a hint of the enemies-to-lovers dynamic sprinkled in to make things more interesting. I couldn't anticipate whether her love interest was going to be the phoenix prince or his earnest bodyguard, but I couldn’t complain either way, since I loved them both (and the author averted a dreaded love triangle!). Tavin was probably my favourite character throughout, though Fie and Jasmir’s individual character development were both done very well!

The conclusion was surprisingly satisfying (if a little sad), leaving me with just enough questions that I'm inclined to continue this duology. I didn’t expect a lot from The Merciful Crow, but was pleased to discover another adventurous story with good banter and a loveable main trio.

“I don’t get to look away from the throats I have to cut. Why should you?
Profile Image for Hayley ☾ (TheVillainousReader).
378 reviews1,183 followers
July 14, 2020
4.5 S T A R S

2020 UPDATE: I loved this just as much, if not more, the second time around.

It wasn't that she wanted to burn the world down, no. She just wanted the world to know that she could.

Well, well, well, well...

That's the only way I can think of starting this review because my brain cannot get over how good this was. I went into this pretty high expectations and somehow I am still shookth about how good it was?

Where to start, where to start.

First and foremost the world. OMG the world is one of my favorites. A world that is gothic, and eerie, and revolves around a plague and different castes is a bookish dream for me, BUT then Owens takes it one step further by adding a magic system that is just as strange and haunting as the world in which it exists.

So then let's continue to the point that I really don't like traveling books. Almost any book I've read where the whole book is spent getting from point A to point B bores me. Hey, hello, here is the exception. Traveling through Sabor with Fie and her family of crows was so much fun. I loved their banter and learning about the world as I walked with Fie and her flock down the roads of Sabor, stopping at plague beckons and collecting bodies along the way. It kept certain aspects about the world mysterious without leaving me feeling confused or like I was drowning in information.

And you know, I've been told that three is a crowd but Vasya and Jude are going to need to MOVE OVER because Fie is officially one of my new all-time fave females. This girl is Bad. Ass. BAD. ASS. She's smart and snarky af, and cares so much for her family and her people. Girl is not doormat, let me tell you. She was so fun and complex. I loved her.

I loved all the characters. There wasn't a single one that I thought was lacking, and a few that had some complexity I was surprised by. The representation and diversity in this were amazing, but what was so much better was how casual it was. Preferred pronouns were respectfully woven into the writing and sexual orientation was addressed through mundane conversation.

The characters were just who they were and that was that.

The writing was so vivid. I haven't read a book that had little quirks, like bits of it's own language, in a long time. Honestly, I'm not sure if I've ever really read a book that was written quite like this one. The way of speaking, and use of slang, was really immersive and different. I really loved this. It was the perfect mix of creepy, adventure, political intrigue and romance, all existing in an awesome world and around a band of outcasts who are forever being hunted.

Can't wait for the next one. I need it like, yesterday.

"There's been a misunderstanding." Jasimir jerked the dagger free. "I'd have sworn that prince is dead."
Profile Image for Elena Rodríguez.
501 reviews230 followers
August 11, 2022
“Mantén la armonía. Conserva los ojos abiertos. Cumple el juramento. Cuida de los tuyos”.

Antes de empezar a hacer esta reseña me gustaría decir que como siempre me ocurre me he dejado llevar por la portada. A simple vista tiene pinta de ser un libro bastante juvenil y ligero, sin embargo, una vez que empecé leerlo me llevé una grata sorpresa, sobre todo al principio. Eso me hace decirme por milésima vez que no hay que llevarse por las portadas y centrarse en lo que contiene el libro.

“Siempre observa a la muchedumbre. Siempre conoce dónde está la salida. Nunca entres sola en un pueblo. Y en las noches en que quemas pecadores, duerme con las sandalias puestas”.

Ahora bien, me encuentro frente encrucijada con esta obra porque no sé qué nota ponerle realmente. Por un lado, me ha gustado mucho, pero, por otro lado, siento que hay cosas que me “chirrían” y no les veo sentido y hacen perder credibilidad a la obra, al menos en lo que se refiere a mi criterio con las novelas.

“Si no importaba lo que querían, entonces no importaba si, tan solo una vez, lo conseguían. Cuando. No si”.

Entre los puntos positivos quiero destacar la idea de la novela, el wordbuilding y los sistemas de magia. Me ha gustado mucho las diferentes “castas” asociadas a nombres de aves (cuervo, gorrión, pavo real, paloma) y cada una le corresponde un poder como rastreo, memoria, glamour…entre otros.

En cuanto a los puntos negativos me gustaría destacar dos cosas: la primera es la poca profundización de la novela. Me explico, como he dicho antes la idea es muy buena, pero creo que le falta que la autora hubiera pulido y ahondado más en el mundo, la mitología y la profundización de los personajes.

“-Me haces creer que puedo hacer algo con mi vida que morir”.

La segunda tiene que ver con lo último que acabo de nombrar, los personajes: están bien pero aparte de profundización para que sean un poco más reales y creíbles me sucede que se comportan como si tuviesen veinticinco años en vez de los dieciséis-diecisiete que tienen de verdad. Yo a esa edad estaba metafóricamente “comiéndome los mocos”, menos mal que un personaje recalca que siguen siendo “niños” en la novela. Juro que en ese momento me reí y dije menos mal que hay alguien con el mismo juicio que yo. Además, lo que más me “molestó” fue que la relación amorosa se estaba desarrollando bien, pero de la noche a la mañana acabaron super acaramelados, como adolescentes en celo, y lo siento ahí me pudo, me parece un poco irreal y pierde credibilidad la historia, aunque me gusten como pareja.

“Ese es el juego, ¿comprendes? No tienen nada que perder al jugar con nosotros”.

Voy a leer la segunda y última parte pero necesito un par de libros de descanso porque siento que si lo leo de golpe lo voy a odiar y no quiero eso, la autora tiene muy buenas ideas y eso es con lo que me quedo.

“Algunos Cuervos son más misericordiosos que otros”.
Profile Image for Rebecca Roanhorse.
Author 54 books7,180 followers
August 29, 2019
4.5 stars, rounding up. This is a YA dark fantasy, and dark it is, from the first line (a great line, btw). A world of castes and brutality (including a certain white-robed vigilante group that reigns down terror on our protagonist, the first time I've seen the KKK allegorized in fantasy is such an effective way) that is thoughtfully written and frankly, wonderfully vivid, particularly in the minutiae. I loved the details that went into the worldbuilding, including names, language, cultural practices and, above all, voice. The magic system was creative and unique, the character growth pleasing, and, like I said, voice for days. There are a few flaws, as there are in all books, but frankly I don't think they're worth elaborating. It didn't take away from the enjoyment of the book. Even if you don't usually read YA, this one is worth a look. It straddles the older YA/adult line in content (violence, off-screen sex) and deserves a wide audience.
Profile Image for Amanda .
432 reviews151 followers
July 24, 2019
The Merciful Crow Bookstagram Photo
You can also read my review here: https://devouringbooks2017.wordpress....

For some reason I didn't really expect this book to be that good, but I wound up absolutely loving this dark fantasy tale. I picked this up on a whim because I thought the cover was pretty and I am so glad that I did. The Merciful Crow was filled with fascinating characters that I loved so much, really great world building and an interesting plot. This book caught my attention from the very first sentence and pulled me into a story that I wound up loving so much.

This was the dance. This was the game. The one she wasn't meant to win.

I loved the characters in this story. Fie was a great protagonist to read about and I found myself relating to her a lot. She was outspoken, fiercely loyal to her own and tremendously brave. I loved the band of Crows and the dark aspect to their caste as they gave plague victims mercy deaths. I also found myself rather attached to minor characters like Wretch, and of course the prince Jas and his bodyguard Tavin. I loved the slow-burn romance between Tavin and Fie and how they grew closer over time and going through hard times together. I loved how loyal Fie was to those she cared about, but I also understood her when she pushed people away when she felt like they were getting too close. The character development was done so well, which makes me SO grateful that this is a series.

Look after your own. Crows had one rule. And she had to be a Crow chief.

I was reminded a bit of The Boneless Mercies, as in both books they gave out mercy deaths, but this book was quite different and so much better in my opinion. (Check out my review of The Boneless Mercies here.) I also found the politics of the caste system and birthright powers given to different castes to be really interesting. Fie's bone witch powers and the ability to use someone's teeth to use their birthright power was so cool. The entire world built in this novel was so fascinating and a bit dark. It was intricate, yet easily understandable and a light read.

"You make me believe I can do something better with my life than die."

Margaret Owen came out of the gate with an absolute stunning debut fantasy. The pacing could be a bit slow at times, but honestly it didn't matter because I loved every bit of the story. I loved how dark this fantasy was and the characters had me hooked. The plot was full of quite a lot of action, but the ending could have used a bit more build up. It didn't feel like the tension rose high enough at the end and it felt a bit rushed. Despite my issue with the ending I am really impressed with the book and I have found myself thinking about it a lot since I finished it. For a book that I didn't think would be a good read I was absolutely blown away. I am anxiously awaiting the sequel to come out because I can't wait to revisit this world and its characters. If you like dark fantasy do yourself a favor and don't pass this book by.
Profile Image for mina.
678 reviews243 followers
May 14, 2022
read may 2022

buddy read with Amanda and Yeganeh
at least we suffered together

Some books you can reread and enjoy their charm again, others, on the other hand, you should continue sequels without rereading them. From my first review I saw that I wasn’t mind blown with the book, so why I decided to reread it is besides me.

The magic of the world Owen created and the castes were the only interesting thing in this book for me. The story was good, however I didn’t connect to the characters, and that made me feel indifferent about all of it.

read december 2019

buddy read with Laura

Interesting. That’s the word that followed me through the whole book. I found The Merciful Crow interesting, but it never passed into me really enjoying it.

The writing was good and the world was phenomenal. I really liked the different castes and the magic system, that’s the only thing that really stood out for me.

The characters were well developed. Fie was a memorable character and a badass, even though I didn’t connect to any of the characters I was really impressed with her. Tavin was great, he came from the higher castes but also he understood the Crows very well and the fact that he’s funny one always is a plus. Jasimir…oh, boy… His character went through a lot of growing; from being an ignorant lordling whom I wanted Fie to punch to someone who may even be a friend to her and fight for Crow’s rights.
Profile Image for Nasom.
195 reviews139 followers
August 22, 2019
Full Review

I was drawn to this book by it's cover but I'm glad it was an enjoyable book too!

What i liked

- The plot/magic system: I found some aspects of the storyline to be unique. For instance, the MC belongs to a group of people called 'Crows'. When someone dies of a plague, they are the only ones that can get rid of the body, but the people in the town that the person dies in has to pay the Crows to prevent the plague from spreading and killing everyone. Also, the MC doesn't have powers on her own, but she can borrow the powers of others using their teeth.

- The writing: I enjoyed how this was written. There were some recurring themes which made the book easy to follow.

- The friendship: I enjoyed the bromance between the Prince and his bodyguard, and how protective they were of each other.

What i didn't like

- So the people in this are divided by groups named after birds. You have the royalty, called Phoenix , Then the royal bodyguards who are called Hawks . The Crows are the least important group. The were other bird groups too and the problem was that sometimes, I kept thinking the author was talking about an actual bird until i continue reading and realize that the bird was actually a metaphor. I wish there were less bird metaphors

- The middle part kinda got repetitive after awhile. The same action plot kept happening over and over again, with the same groups of people.

Overall, I enjoyed this and I think it's a good debut book from an author.
Profile Image for Patry Fernandez.
461 reviews228 followers
December 11, 2019
Reseña completa -> https://thewordsofbooks.blogspot.com/...

Vaya pasada de libro. Me ha encantado la originalidad de la historia, la ambientación y el shipeo que me traía con ciertos personajes jejejeje

Ha sido una lectura peculiar, adictiva y novedosa en muchos aspectos, sobre todo por el poder de los Cuervos y como lo utilizan para su beneficio. Y que a pesar de que son la casta mas baja de todos, son realmente necesarios para la supervivencia del resto. Ha sido un no parar y no me ha durado ni 24 horas... va ser eterna la espera hasta que salga la continuación. Pero de verdad, desde aquí lo RECOMIENDO completamente si buscáis una lectura de fantasía diferente y que os sorprenda.
Profile Image for Laura ☾.
812 reviews268 followers
December 10, 2019
4.5 stars - rounded up

The ‘Merciful crows’ are the only ones untouched by a plague sweeping their land of Sabor . Fie, is a crow, trained by her father to deal with those who are infected and are to die and be disposed of. They are summoned to the palace for first time in 500 years to dispose of some infected lordlings ( one of which turns out to be crown prince), and end up aiding his escape from the queen (who is his stepmother and now has her own heir).

Owen has created a unique magic system, whereby magic occurs in witches (but also to a lesser degree in non-witches) of social castes, the caste determining the type of power, named after birds, sparrows (farmers, have gift of fortune) crows (plague collectors, bone thieves), crane (magistrate, can summon truth), hawks (royal guards - can heal or hurt by controlling blood), peacocks (courtiers), Phoenix (royal family, can control fire), and so on. This system is quite unique, complex and so interesting. 

The world building is fantastic and Owen, creates a rich, beautiful world, through vivid imagery.

The characters are witty, sarcastic and brilliant. The plot didn't feel rushed but didn't drag on either - it was just the right blend to keep me interested.

I absolutely loved Fie as a strong heroine. Both her and Jas provided great examples of character development, and I can't wait to see more of them!

I already absolutely cannot wait for the sequel!
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