The Storm Crow, Kalyn Josephson

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It was joy, as wild and powerful as a storm, and it was hope, as tentative and newborn as the hatching crow

In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything. When Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.

* * * *
4 / 5

Huge crows that you can ride that have magical powers. I was completely sold on that premise alone. Throw in a complex female protagonist with depression that she is fighting, a whole cast of women, an unlikely marriage, and a revolution and you have a solid YA fantasy.

Some hours, some seconds, I could handle, and the next, I wanted to let the world swallow me up

Princess Anthia of Rhodaire is a second daughter, destined to receive her own crow at the next ceremony and to become a rider, whilst her older sister Caliza studies to become Queen. When the military kingdom of Illucia invades, butchers their people, and slays all of their crows, Caliza must stand up and become Queen. Meanwhile, Anthia, or Thia, falls into a deep depression having lost her mother, her friends, and virtually everything she loves. Unfortunately for her, Caliza promises Anthia’s hand in marriage to Prince Ericen of Illucia. You see, the crows are magical. Sun crows have healing powers, shadow crows can meld into the darkness. Without water crows to summon rains and battle crows to protect them, Rhodaire is extremely vulnerable.

First up, I can’t remember the last time I read a YA fantasy novel with a main character that is so clearly depressed and calls it that. Life sucks for Thia. Her mother is dead, her sister doesn’t have any time for her, and she’s supposed to marry a man from the people that destroyed her life. Can’t blame the girl for not wanting to get out of bed. Then she finds a single storm crow egg in the wreckage of the rookery and it lights a small fire inside of her. I really rooted for Thia throughout the book.

A beast inside me slowly uncoiled, releasing a tension so deeply ingrained, it had become a part of me

The Storm Crow was thoughtful and fun and I definitely thought that the idea of magical crows was super cool and well integrated into the book. It’s clear how having the crows has affected Rhodairen culture. However, this book definitely needed more crow action. There’s a flight sequence at the start and the storm crow egg, but other than that there’s not actually many crows around (on account of them all being dead). Shame. The Storm Crow also manages to fall into a number of classic YA cliches, including the dreaded love triangle and awkward cringeworthy enemies to friends banter between Thia and Ericen.

On the whole I loved this book. In particular I loved how it had prominently had several female friendships and a whole cast of women. Virtually every character of any importance bar the two love interests was female: kind women, clever women, cunning women, cruel women. The writing was also lovely; easy to read, descriptive and flowing, Josephson has a great style.

There was a lot to love in The Storm Crow (including that gorgeous cover!). I am definitely looking forward to reading the next book.

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book.

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