I got an ARC of The Storm Crow [The Book Depository] by Kalyn Josephson through the Fairyloot. It won’t be on sale until July, and I already can’t wait for the second volume of this duopoly. As soon as I started reading, I got into the story so much that I ended it in record time only to realize that I’ll need to wait to know what will happen next. It’s that good! It has badass female and male characters, sweet moments and devastating ones. Devastating action, magic, craft, and all the tricks you can think of a wicked crown. Anthia is one of the princes of Rhodaire. She’s fated to be a Crow rider, while her sister Caliza is set to be the next Queen. Their land is full of magic and amazing creatures: majestic crows. (Seriously, whatever description you’ve read about crows out there pales in comparison to this one!) But alas, the Illucian Empire invades and destroys everything.
First Anthia hides away in a cocoon of depression, anxiety, and despair. However, she ends up fighting everything to plot rebellion along with her sister Caliza. Thia spurs into action when Caliza tells her that she has to marry the sociopathic prince from Illucia so that they can save what’s left of their kingdom. Whatever mental health Thia is in, she has no choice, even if hiding under the blankets is the easiest solution. Thia is badass, and if you read the book, you’ll fall in love with her.
SPOILERS: this review has massive spoilers of the book hidden under gray banners. If you click on them, you’ll know (and I don’t recommend you to know beforehand). The book is more than good: it’s brilliant! Compelling descriptions, an alluring fantasy world, highly relatable characters, and the wickedest power games ever.
This book has many strengths. One of them is the depiction of depression and anxiety. Although we meet Anthia at her best before Rhodaire’s fall, it’s painful to read about her crippling mental state. She hides under the blanket, away from everyone and everything. Waking up in the morning is a huge struggle, and anxiety doesn’t help at all when she needs to take a decision.
No wonder we feel for her every time we see her mental struggle, and we follow her mistakes page after page. When Caliza tells her that she has to marry Ericen, Illucia’s Prince, she snaps into action. First, she rebels in a childish way trying to stop her sister’s from ordering her so. But then, when she thinks about her kingdom, and all the people she changes her mind. Maybe she has to marry after all. However, when she finds a Crow egg in the rubble of destruction, things change. If she’s able to hatch it, then she’ll have a symbol with which to fight the Illusian Empire. Not only that, she could convince other kingdoms into being their allies. But there’s a catch: Thia’s mother didn’t move a finger when Illucia invaded the neighboring countries.
If you think that’s bad, wait until the end of the book when you discover that maybe it was Thia’s mother attack years ago that provoked the mess. Illucia’s ruler, Razel, saw her family butchered by Rhodaire’s soldiers. She wasn’t meant to rule, but now she’s a ruthless Queen that treats her son worse than a dog. Ericen wants to impress her mother, but the stakes here are almost unattainable. Unlike his mother, Ericen does have a heart.
Caliza had to take the Crown when the disaster happened. She was too busy to take care of Thia and decided to do as her mother and wait for her to heal. She’s witty with diplomacy, but when it comes into action, she needs Thia. The sisters work as a team, whether they’re together or far away from each other. Caliza supports her sister once she understands what she wants to do and how she wants to gamble.
Then we have the Prince Ericen. There’s much more to him than meets the eye. We meet him as a bully, and we’re set to understand why he has a horrible character. His mother, Queen Razel, rules under an iron fist and won’t stop until she has conquered all lands. While you might feel for Ericen, it’s hard to empathize with Razel. However, my gut feels there might be more there with her since all the characters in the book hide more than you can previously see.
Then there’s Kiva, Thia’s best friend. She’s a member of the guards, a badass warrior, and the sweetest girl ever. She tends to fall for strong women like her, and yet her strongest point is her loyalty to her best friend.
She follows Thia to the Illusian Empire along with Ericen for the wedding. She’s in for all the mayhem, and there supporting Thia in the darkest of times despite having to deal with her own emotions. This isn’t one-sided. Thia also values their friendship, and she almost falls for telling the secret of how to hatch eggs to Razel when she wounds Thia and is about to kill her.
Kiva has a strong character, is stubborn, witty, and a great warrior. However, she also has a soul, and when she kills she feels like the worst being in all the realms. Despite all the bravado, we learn that she too has feelings and it’s hard for her to share them.
So, we’ve got a multilayered main character, a fascinating potential villain Prince, and we also get another character to mess things up in a sweet way.
On a date with Ericen, she meets Caylus, a nerd with scarred hands. Again, there’s far more to him than meets the eye, and I bet that we’ll discover all about him in a different light in the second book. He’s the perfect nerd: he experiments in a lab which happens to be his apartment. He bakes cakes for a living, and he owns a sweet cat. The man is tall and with broad shoulders, nervous and socially awkward. His hands tremble, and that’s why he needs an assistant. And he’s the perfect cover to put in contact Thia with the Resistance from other lands.
He fought for a long time, and he got so many scars on his hands that they ended trembling. His father sold him to the mafia for debts, and he ended up fighting. However, his strong points are sweetness, his incredible lust for knowledge, and his drawing skills.
Ericen is obviously a jock with a demanding mother that has horrible standards for him. She has led out his path, and he must do what she demands. He’s used to following orders, but he craves for something else. He wants to be different. But he lives surrounded by an army-like culture that pulls him to pull out his worse. In fact, he acts like a bully when we first meet him. Hence, his reputation of being a sociopath.
Then there’s Caylus, the nerd. Although he was good fighting, he’s done with it. What he fancies is craft and discovering new things. He’s an intellectual, hiding from the mafia, and yet he has hidden skills like drawing. Thia ends up choosing the nerd over the jock. But Thia has a huge heart and ends up caring about Ericen, and so she’ll like to be friends.
I won’t spoil the book any further. The Storm Crow [The Book Depository] is a great ride with all the elements you want in fantasy: magic, badass and multilayered female and male characters, fantastic beasts, love triangles, great friendships, and power struggles. It’s an adventure where all characters grow and make different choices that I’m sure will explode into sheer events in the second book. I just can’t wait for it!
I laughed, cried, rolled my eyes in despair and disbelief and couldn’t stop reading because each page had me grounded to it. Now, I wonder… could I ever ride one of those Crows?
Note: This post contains affiliate links. I only share things that I love.
Copyright: Images on this post (C) depepi.com / Memes & Gifs (C) by their owners.