My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Thank you, Sourcebooks Fire, for giving me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I’d turned my back on my kingdom long enough. It was time I did something to protect it. — Thia
It seems that YA will always be a fan of birds like ravens and crows. I’m sure that you can think of one novel with those words in the title or cover. What sets The Storm Crow apart is its avian magic system. It’s easy to imagine fantasy heroes riding griffins or dragons. But can you imagine them riding crows? Research claims that crows have excellent problem-solving skills. Kayln Josephson raises the bar by giving them magic and making them essential to the survival of an entire kingdom.
Other aspects of the plot might sound familiar: a princess is forced to marry the prince of an enemy nation but then organizes a rebellion behind his back. The prince suddenly falls in love with the damsel, but she wants to be with one of her fellow rebels. I’ve encountered this formula several times, particularly in Ash Princess. The colonial/political discourse in The Storm Crow was fun. However, I felt a bit jaded because I had read a book that did it better. As for the love triangle, both books didn’t execute it spectacularly. I wonder if I’ll ever be a fan of this trope?
Setting my comparisons aside, The Storm Crow also had a relevant discussion on grief and depression. After her home was conquered, Thia lost her will to live. She stayed in bed and sulked, barely leaving the security of her blanket. Although I haven’t experienced that degree of sadness, I know what it feels like to escape the harsh realities of life through sleep. I’m not sure if this novel is #OwnVoices, but looking at Thia’s journey to recovery and acceptance, I have a hunch that it is.
The final strength of this book was diversity. Diversity has many forms today, but as an Asian reader, I’m particularly invested in literary works that feature people of different races. YA is a mostly Western genre. Still, it’s nice to find yourself represented by protagonists who aren’t pale-skinned. On the flip side, this story depicts a cold/white kingdom colonizing a hot/brown one. If that’s not a stereotype, you tell me.
Overall, I liked reading The Storm Crow because of its relatable characters and fascinating magic system. This is perhaps the most avian-themed book on my shelf. Regardless of its flaws, I’m excited about the sequel. Hopefully, it will be worthy of more than three stars.