My Rating: ★★★★☆
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?
I received an ARC from the publisher as part of the blog tour in exchange for an honest review.
I forget where exactly I first heard about this book, but I’m fairly certain it was either Twitter or Goodreads. Either way, the main reason why I decided to pick this one up was because I thought the concept of magical teeth was so strange and different that I just had to read this ASAP. Plus the cover is absolutely gorgeous!
Things I Liked:
One of my favorite things about this book is the incredible world building! The world is sorted by a Caste system that are named after different types of birds – Swan, Crane, Hawk, etc. and each one has a special gift that’s sort of their group’s specialization. Throughout the story we follow Fie, who is part of the Crow caste and a Chief-in-training. The Crows are the only ones immune to this mysterious plague – the origins of which was not explained but I’m counting on being revealed in the future books – afflicting their world, so they were given the life mission of dealing mercy killings for those infected and on the brink of death, then disposing of the bodies before the disease spread. For being such an important part of their society, the Crows constantly face prejudice and oppression from the other castes and are considered to be the lowest class among all them. Oh, and they also have the ability to utilize a variation of the other castes specializations through their teeth! Honestly, at first I thought the concept was weird but then as I learned more about it throughout the story, it became one of the coolest forms of magic I’d ever seen in a book.
I adore Fie. Period. She’s so unapologetically herself, hilariously sassy, fiercely loyal to her family and loved ones, but also has doubts and dreams, is incredibly stubborn, and she just felt so human. I loved seeing her grow and change, and transform into a leader that I could not help but feel proud of at the end. Tavin was another favorite of mine but it took me a while longer to like Jasimir, which didn’t really surprise me because it took a long time for he and Fie to get along and I adored her from the start. Haha I did thoroughly enjoy their banter and back-and-forth with Fie, and how their team-up helped with all their character developments. Through Fie, Tavin and Jasimir learned about the plight of the Crows and slowly came to realize that they’re people too and don’t deserve the abuse and prejudice that’s become the norm for them. While Fie learned that, although it wasn’t going to be easy (because nothing ever came easy for a Crow) it was possible to change people’s beliefs about the Crows and that there was hope for a better future for her people.
There were so many twists and turns; the whole book was pretty much a wild ride right from the beginning and I enjoyed every minute of it. Most of the book was a cat-and-mouse chase between the heroes and the villains, with plenty of close-calls and almost-victories. Although there were some parts that I absolutely was able to predict beforehand, it didn’t deter from my enjoyment of the story. In fact, I cheered or fretted every time I was able to correctly guess an upcoming plot twist, often times very audibly.
And, yes, there is romance in this book! And I LIVED FOR IT. I didn’t see it coming at first and it took some patience in the first third of the story, but it was so wonderfully done. It’s definitely a slow-burn type of romance but it felt so natural and definitely had me squee-ing halfway through. I won’t say which characters are involved, but I’ll just say that I love their dynamic and that they fit so well together. I can’t wait to see how things progress with them in the next book!
Things I Disliked:
Although I eventually really enjoyed the writing style of this book, it was really difficult for me to understand in the beginning. I know there’s always that adjustment period in the start of every fantasy book I read, especially if it’s a really unique one like The Merciful Crow is. But there were just too many moments where I had to reread sentences – and sometimes whole paragraphs – just to fully understand what was being said or what was happening. Needing to do that so often in the first third of the book took away from my immersion and thus my full enjoyment of the story which is why I couldn’t give it a full 5 stars. Good thing I’ve seen Outlander though because I definitely think that helped with my comprehension of some parts of the dialogue.
I was taken by surprise by how much I ended up loving The Merciful Crow. The world and characters are so rich and well developed, I’m already highly anticipating the sequel – which I NEED ASAP! Definitely, absolutely, 100% recommend this book especially if you’re looking for a fantasy with a richly unique world filled with interesting characters, fast-paced action with plenty of twists and turns, and one of the coolest magic systems that I’ve ever seen.
About the Author:
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.)