ARC Review // The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

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Synopsis:

The Merciful Crow follows Fie, future chieftain and witch when her band of Crows is sent to burn two Sinners that just so happened to be The Crown Prince Jasimir & Taverin his double.

When it’s revealed that Queen Rushana plans to send the deadly band of Oleanders after the Crows to get rid of them Fie strikes an oath to get The Prince and Taverin to Trikovoi in order to gain the protection of Master-General Draga of the Hawk Caste.

In this diverse debut fantasy from Margaret Owen you’ll find an original magic system, a tale of loyalty and family, and plenty of darkness and betrayal.

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I was sent this ARC through Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review

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My Thoughts:

This book took me on an adventure that I was not expecting, I was so enthralled with the contents of this story that I devoured it in a day. Fie is the main character that we deserve, the development was there, the vulnerability and the power. Throughout the book we get to follow Fie’s thoughts while trailing across the nation of Sabor and travel to the depths of her power and back.

Magic System:

One thing that I loved about this story was the magic system. In this story some witches have the ability to track people using items that they’ve touched (Skinwitches), Some are able to use Teeth to siphon the power of its owner (Bone Witches) but every Caste is borne with a power minus Crow Caste. I loved that using different teeth could produce different outcomes like Sparrow’s Teeth helped to Veil appearances, Phoenix teeth helped them wield Fire, Pigeon Teeth helped to wield luck and so on and so forth. It was cool to say the least.

World Building/Themes:

There are 12 different Castes split into 3 different categories: Splendid Castes, Hunting Castes, & Common Castes. As the list goes down so do the privileges. The POV we get to follow is from the bottom, Crow Caste. Crows are the deliverers of Mercy for citizens who have caught the Sinner’s Plague, as future chieftain Fie must assist her Pa with killing the victims of the plague. Crows are the only Caste that can’t contract the plague so the they travel from town to town answering to beacons to let them know that Sinners reside in the city and need to be taken away. No one cares about the well being of The Crows and they’re rarely paid enough for their services, as the bottom of the barrel they’re treated as less than human which is why bands of hate groups are allowed to hunt them down and kill them. The themes of privilege and classism are quite apparent as the story goes on and I love how Owen used her book as a platform for a very important issue that we suffer from today even if we don’t use Caste Systems, Privilege is a huge topic of discussion and rightfully so.

Characters:

The Characters were all given their time to develop and learn from each other in different ways. Jasimir has to learn to shed his privilege and look at things from a different perspective, Taverin had to learn that he had other purposes in life other than being a body double and protector for The Prince, and Fie had to learn to become a Chief and make hard decisions even if there wasn’t a clear path to take. I truly loved the introduction of different kinds of hunters and ghouls, I liked the different kinds of people we met as we traveled Sabor with the characters. Every element was consistent throughout which made for a pleasant read. I thought the story flowed well and it read easily without being dense, it was complex without having to sift through all of the details to find what you needed. If you’re looking for a new fantasy to read I would definitely recommend this one.

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Things to Mention:

There was Non-Binary representation & Pansexual Representation (Please correct me if I’m wrong) and it was led by POC which is a win if that’s what you’re searching for.

If I had to criticize anything it would be that it did seem to be repetitive at some points and that Jasimir didn’t really get the chance to evolve until the end which is okay because the story need to unfold organically. I also wish I knew more about Queen Rushana or at least I wish that I got to dive into her mind more because I didn’t know much about her minus how truly terrible she was which is needed obviously but I just love sinking into the villain’s kind so completely personal preference there!

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Wrap-Up:

I rated this fantasy 4 out of 5 stars and would recommend it to anyone looking for a fresh new YA Fantasy to dive into with plenty of the homegrown elements to enjoy.

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