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352 pages, Hardcover
First published July 9, 2019
"He was everywhere; I couldn’t escape him. Surely, it would only be worse in Illucia. He was in my head, in my thoughts and my emotions. He’d burrowed underneath my skin with his vicious smiles and barbed, caustic words, and everywhere I went, there he was.”
"Still, I clung to the rising hope, feeling as if I balanced on a glass precipice, waiting for it to shatter and send me careening into the nothingness like so many times before.
I knew what I needed to do, but working up the will to do it felt like trying to fight my way above water in a depthless ocean.
It was so hard not to drown.”
“It’s difficult to walk against the wind. It takes strength.”
“Don’t let her silence the storm inside you.”
“Pain begets pain.”
“When I asked what the speed of darkness was, my mother said, ‘Snuff out the only candle in a room. Watch how quickly the darkness comes.’ And she blew out the candle at my bedside, dousing us in night.”
“I’m guessing there’s a moral here?” Kiva asked.
“Darkness spreads quickly,” I replied. “Quicker than light.”
“Crow or no crow, one way or another, you will fly. You were always meant to rule the sky.”
“No. This isn’t your fault. The way you feel isn’t your fault.”
“A storm.” She locked gazes with me. “A tempest of lightning and thunder with the kind of heart found only in legends. A heart full of kindness and courage and strength.”
“People are their truest selves at their most desperate.”
“Books are very underrated weapons.”
“You’re a bastard,” I said.
Ericen stared at me, lips parted, before they slowly formed a smile. “You Rhodairens are very blunt.”
“No. You Illucians are just conniving monsters.”
His smile widened. “True.”
“Myths are rooted in history and culture,” Caylus said. “They may be distorted retellings of fact.”
“People are their truest selves at their most desperate.”
I did it. I finished it. I don’t know why I did this to myself, I should have DNF’d it at some point. But I can be a bit stubborn and I wanted to see if something good happened towards the end. Guess what? It didn’t.
The Storm Crow begins when Rhodaire, a magical kingdom with elemental crows, is attacked by Illucia, another kingdom. The queen and the crows are killed and the kingdom is left in ruins. That changes Princess Anthia life, who is dealing now with depression and forced to marry Illucia’s crown prince. But Anthia is about to discover that hope is not completely lost when she finds a crow egg, the last opportunity of Rhodaire to get a chance to fight Illucia.
The premise sounds really cool. That’s the reason why this book had been on my radar for months and the reason why I got really excited when I saw the ARC included in Fairyloot’s December box. But the thing is that it’s been a while since the last time I disliked a book this much. No matter how much I try to find a single aspect I enjoyed about it, because I can’t find anything.
Let’s start with the first of my problems: the lack of descriptions. The settings aren’t described at all in The Storm Crow, which made impossible for me to imagine the different kingdoms, castles and streets. Descriptions are one of the most important aspects in a book, especially in SFF. You can’t mention only the colour of a couple of buildings and a few objects in a room. That’s not enough, it denotes a lack of care in the world created. The simple writing and the overuse of pet phrases didn’t help either.
Then we have the various inconsistencies and plot holes. The majority of the strategies don’t make any political or military sense. How is it possible for rebels to enter the castle that is described as the most guarded of all kingdoms? How the crown prince goes to enemy territory and eats the food without anyone testing it before? How is the princess allowed to go out of the castle without guards when she’s a political prisoner? How can Kiva choose to expend time with a girl she literally met the day before than protecting her princess and best friend the second day they are in Sordell’s castle? How can her people promise her a boat waiting for her in enemy territory when they are improvising the plan? And don’t make me start with all the inconsistencies around the ending.
The characters are completely flat and one dimensional, but at least we get to see some racial and sexual diversity in The Storm Crow—the main character is a WOC and there are some f/f and m/m relationships briefly mentioned. The thing is that all the characters fall in love after having literally met the other person just two days ago; insta-love everywhere. Anthia has interesting and emotional thoughts on depression, which I liked. But her actions contradict some of those thoughts, which was weird. Also, I can understand why she abandones her obligations about her kingdom because of her depression, but I can’t comprehend how she’s the first one critiquing the decisions other characters make when she’s so selfish. Her sister become queen and interposed her obligations above everything else, having to do something as hard as not taking her time to mourn her mom. I couldn’t understand how Anthia can blame her sister for the difficult decisions she had to make for her kingdom when she didn’t get the space or the time that Anthia was granted. She algo gets to blame her mom, Auma and Ericen for making some decisions when I don’t think it was her call to make some of those recriminations.
And getting back to the depression, I think using a psychiatrist word introduced in the 18th century in a medieval setting wasn’t the best decision. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s necessary to introduce something as important as mental health in a book and I liked how depression is handled in this one. But it would have been better if it had been included with accurate language that makes sense with the historical context in which the book is inspired. Something similar happens with the word 'anxiety'.
Summing up, I really wanted to like The Storm Crow, but it didn’t work for me. The crows idea is pretty cool, but I couldn’t ignore the lack of descriptions, the flat characters, the various inconsistencies and plot holes, the unnecessary and multiple insta-loves and the overuse of some pet phrases. But this is an ARC, so hopefully some of those things will be improved or fixed in the final copy.
“Welcome to the life of a woman. Men say stupid crap to us all the time.”
P.S.: I'm not English, so if you see any mistakes let me know so I can correct them, please.
“This was why I’d hidden in my room, why I wanted to run there now. Alone, no one could make me feel like an ungrateful little girl, rejected and inferior. No one could look at me like Caliza was now: disappointed, impatient, accusatory. As if this were all in my head and it’d go away if only I tried hard enough.”
”Strength comes in many forms, the lion fears only the fox.”