The Merciful Crow (Merciful Crow Series #1)

The Merciful Crow (Merciful Crow Series #1)

by Margaret Owen


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The Merciful Crow (Merciful Crow Series #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
marongm8 4 months ago
This book was received as an ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. From beginning to end this book captivated me. The suspense, the thrill and the rush that was brought from Prince Jasmir, Fie, and Tavin and the struggle they faced while battling the dark witch in risk of not only saving their empire, but saving their own lives and wanting peace. The language and structure of this young adult novel was so brilliantly written and constructed like an adventure in your own home. The twist presented through and through the book will immediately hypnotize our teen readers in starting and finishing it in one day. We will consider adding this title to our YFantasy collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
LeonardR 4 months ago
This book was heavily promoted by the publisher at the late Spring/early Summer 2018 book conventions and quickly became a must have on many wish lists. The story lives up to the hype. The author takes you to a time when the world has gone from bad to worse. A time of plague. The world is a caste system. Each caste is represented by birds (hawks, owls, phoenix…) with their own unique traits. The Crows are the lowest class. Each class appears to serve a purpose in their own way. The Crows are looked upon to provide a service for the betterment of the rest of society; assisting the plagued with a merciful death. But young Fie, her dad, and their band of Crows are also called upon to rescue the heir to the throne in exchange for a potentially empty promise of protection from a society that looks down on them. This book offer a different and fresh perspective from the standard overly used formula of a bunch of people collectively using magical powers, going on an adventure, solving puzzles along the way, winning the endgame. Yes, in the beginning you need to slow down to allow the new vocab words (viatik, ken,...) to sink in and also to appreciate the importance of teeth. But afterwards you are turning pages, unwilling to put the book down. The Merciful Crow explores the relationship between father and daughter and the lessons on life that are passed. It focuses on the difficult moral choices that need to be made in life between what one wants to do and what needs to be done. It addresses the inherent unfairness of the world while maintaining one’s dignity despite the adversity and ridicule. And yes, there is some magic power use and ingeniously created plot twists along the way. And this is just the debut? I’m already on board for the next book
AllyOvery 4 months ago
I received an e-arc of this book, and let me tell you I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT. Everything from the world to the characters felt so unique and engaging--from the very first page I was hooked (with a first line like that, how could I not be!?). I should've known I'd love this book right away, as it has so many things I love: Smol angry girl Secretly soft banter-y pansexual LI Sweet gay prince Tooth magic! Enemies/rivals/idiots to lovers!! A CAT CALLED BARF What more could I want!? So THE MERCIFUL CROW is set in a world divided into twelve castes, each named for a type of bird and each with unique abilities and ranks. The book is told from the perspective of Fie, a seventeen-year-old future Crow Chief who can do magic by using teeth from members of other castes (HOW COOL IS THAT!?). The Crows are mercy-killers, killing people who have been taken by the plague so they don't have to suffer. When Fie's band is called to the palace itself, they're asked to burn the Prince and his body guard. But when they take them to the pyre, they quickly find that neither of the boys is dead and instead that they need the Crows help to escape the murderous queen. I could go on and on about how much I loved the world building in this book. The little details were so thought out, right down to Fie's narrative voice which so uniquely reflected her and her understanding of the world. I loved the concept of the castes, and the way in which the magic worked was complicated but also easy to understand and very naturally incorporated. The descriptions of the different locations were all so vivid, and I loved how unusual each one felt. We travel from a city built on different levels with tiled canals and water trickling down, to a northern fortress with Mammoth riders (YEAH MAMMOTH RIDERS!). It was all so wonderfully fleshed out and felt really original. I also just loved the casual diversity and acceptance of queerness in this world. Not only is the prince gay (and everyone's totally fine with it), but there was a non-binary character and the love interest is pan. When making fantasy worlds, I love when author's make a world that's accepting of queerness like that and it made me so happy! But the world isn't the only reason this book was very easily a five star read for me, the characters are really what drew my heart in. From the very beginning, I loved Fie's anger and her defiance, mixed with a very real vulnerability. Fie's conflicting emotions about being Chief and the nature of what she has to do, combined with fighting against a world that doesn't want Crows in it was really well written. I also loved both Tavin and Jasimir, who were really well rounded and interesting characters. I especially liked Jas's journey across the book, leading to that AMAZING ENDING. And the thing I really loved about Tavin was that he was written so clearly as an equal to Fie, but also as someone who saw her strength and deferred to her authority--it's really refreshing to see a male character written like that! Overall, I just really loved this book. The writing and voice are superb and I fell in love with the characters from the first page. I can't WAIT for the sequel!
Kibbyra 23 days ago
Rating: The Merciful Crow is an intriguing debut that tackles some hard issues, but suffers from too much journey and a writing style that can be off putting for some. 3 stars “One way or another, we feed the Crows.” – Saborian proverb The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen is a solid debut with a unique magic system and a strong female lead. Owen crafts a world that feels both ancient and painfully modern in its prejudices. And while the snark is stellar and the magic is intriguing, the plot feels plodding and the writing often left me feeling lost. The world of The Merciful Crow is split into castes, the Crows being the lowest and most hated caste. The Crows are the undertakers of Sabor and are tasked with collecting the plague ridden dead. For mythological/religious reasons, the rest of the people in the kingdom loathe the Crows with a horrific intensity. The Crows are shunned, ridiculed, taken advantage of, and often run down and killed. Many parts of this book are not easy to read as they mirror some of the horrific things that have happened in our world in the past and sadly, in our current day. The rage Fie feels at her people being oppressed is ferocious and is a driving force in the story. But something gets lost in the exploration of prejudices of the world and it stops feeling as important as it should be. The writing style was also hard to get a grasp of. I can’t quite put my finger one what it was, but I was just never able to really get a good rhythm in my reading. The building of the Crow’s world was amazing, but I felt that I never got to know much else about any other castes in the story. I found the magic incredibly unique, but again, I never felt like I got a firm understanding of how it worked. What I did get, I absolutely loved. I have a soft spot for unique magic systems and this one definitely takes the cake…or teeth, if we want to be on brand. The majority of the story is spent on the road and on the run. While it keeps a sense of intensity through the story, it gets draining after a while. I like an epic journey as much as the next fantasy reader, but the constant catch and escape wore thin. Even though we traveled with the characters through much of the world, I also never felt like I got a great understanding of the world as a whole. Fie is an awesome main character. She knows herself and her mind, is fiercely loyal, but isn’t some one note badass. Tavin, the obvious love interest, brings much needed comic relief in the form of snarky exchanges with Fie, but he is also the hard warrior and guard of Prince Jasimir. And then there is Jasimir. Wow, did I love AND hate him. At times, sweet and caring, a prince I could support as ruler in this world. At other times, annoying and childish, a typical spoiled prince who knows nothing of the land he is supposed to rule. I think all the characters were well written, it was more of a matter of me not liking their personalities all the time. While The Merciful Crow is an interesting story, with an awesome magical system, there were too many missed notes for me to really fall into the story. That being said, I really enjoyed the ending and I will 100% be looking forward to the next book. An ARC of this novel was sent to me by the publisher at my request. The decision to review the novel was my own and all thoughts and opinions are completely my own.
Jennzahling 25 days ago
The Merciful Crow is one of those books I absolutely love – a world I accidentally get completely immersed in and don’t want to come out of! From the beginning to the end, I was sucked into Fie’s life as a Crow. I felt every hitch, emotion, and problem as it came her way. I felt her inner struggle to want to be something more and her need to protect her own. And can we talk about the teeth? MAGIC WITH TEETH? How amazingly original! It made me wish it was a REAL thing. The Merciful Crow even has a bit of romance, but it’s not the annoying kind that makes you want to barf (no pun intended) every time it comes up on the page. I enjoyed the relationships between Fie, Tavin, AND Jasimir very much. This book is so cleverly written. With interesting prose, a fast paced timeline and alot of magic, The Merciful Crow is a book for anyone who loves an underdog. now, when does the Money Dance for the sequel begin?
RememberingJulie 3 months ago
This was. Phenomenal. Such incredible, unique world building and magic system. An amazing, endearing cast of characters. A complex plot. Writing with just a hint of voice - perfect for a third person POV. It was also a complete story in itself, but the set up and direction for the sequel are clear and I want to read it IMMEDIATELY.
TheLibraryEnchantress 4 months ago
I had to sit and think about this review for a bit. Usually, I can give a book a star rating the moment I close it based on how I feel after having read it all. But not The Merciful Crow and I'll tell you why in one word: hype. I went to BookCon where people were literally running over each other to get the ARC. They were lining up when they weren't supposed to and threatened with security and so I, of course, expected something that was going to be a 5 star read. So once I closed the book I was kind of torn. On the one hand, I enjoyed the book but on the other hand, I couldn't understand why people were going insane over it! But that's the downside to hype. It's like a rumor: once it gets started, it can take on a life of its own with no real foundations. And I honestly think that's unfair to both the author and the book! Because then there is all this extra pressure that, if not met, leads to a letdown. So in the interest of fairness, I am going to do my best to write as I'd heard nothing about this book beforehand. The Merciful Crow is mind-blowing. The magic system, though a bit creepy tbh, is definitely one of a kind! You know it's good when you read and immediately need to find quizzes to know exactly what caste you're in (INSERT CASTE HERE). The plot was pretty good as well. There were some moments where I desperately wanted to skip ahead but for the most part, I was intrigued throughout. And that ending. I'm not talking about what happened but just the way it was written was so well done! I was left feeling....well I won't say how I was feeling because I know that could be spoilery but the ending was just the best-written part. The characters are where I have a bit of an issue. First of all, because I know y'all are wondering....yes. I did add a new book boyfriend to my list. pretty high on my list tbh. Because that man......mmmmm...he is bae. But back to the characters. I do think that they could have used a little more fleshing out. I know it was only book 1 but I don't really feel like I got to know the characters so well. And the "growth"? It honestly felt a bit inorganic at moments. At least with one character. But the writing was good and the plot did manage to surprise me a little and I very much plan to read the sequel to see what's gonna happen next! My rating: 3.5 stars Favorite quote: "Even Phoenixes need ash to rise from."
Anonymous 4 months ago
I love this book! I find the characters in this book so realistic and I can actually relate to the characters and their trout process in the choices they make I am waiting for the next book to come out hopefully sooner rather than later.
forsakenfates 4 months ago
This book was a fantastic debut fantasy novel set in a world that was so rich and imaginative, even the magic system was incredibly unique and I loved learning more about it. This book follows what I like to call our trio of characters, Fie, Tavin, and Jasimir. They meet early on in the book and are thrust together on a crazy journey to save the kingdom. Each one is from a different caste which means they all have different powers and different ranks in society. Fie's caste was fascinating to me, between the teeth magic, the protection from the plague, and the mercy kills I feel like in some ways even though they are believed to be the scum of the empire, they are truly the most powerful, especially when equipped with teeth. While the book is told from Fie's POV, I still felt that I got to know each character really well. While this book has some standard YA fantasy tropes in it such as the "peasant" fighting for rights within a kingdom, I felt Margaret Owen did a great job of making the story her own and adding her own twists. This book had so many ups and downs with the characters and I truly felt that each character grew and became a better person throughout the story, yes they still have their moments where I want to just bash them over the head at their idiocy. I really cannot wait to see how Margaret Owen wraps up this duology in the Faithless Hawk, and I also think that could be hinting at the sequel being told from Tavin's POV. I would absolutely love that so much. He was such a complex character and I really appreciated how his story unfolded beyond simply being the double for Jasimir. I also appreciated the complexity of Jasimir's character as the crown prince as well as his sexual orientation. I felt this was very natural and was not harped on. It was mentioned multiple times but always for a purpose other than adding diversity to the book. I appreciated how it was woven into his character rather than being a main point of the story. I focused a lot of this review on the main trio in the book, but even the side characters were unique and I felt like I truly knew them. The entire clan that Fie lives and travels with were hilarious. I loved the banter between the Crows and all the different character's traits and personalities. This book also has a nice ending, even if I still want more! Margaret chose not to follow in the footsteps of many YA authors and there is no cliffhanger in this book. It is a complete part in the two-part series. One final thing I will say is that Barf must be protected (I'm not even a cat person, but I loved the cat in this book).
onemused 4 months ago
THE MERCIFUL CROW is a lush new fantasy unlike anything I have read before. In the kingdom of Sabor, people are born into castes named for birds. Fie is a 16-year-old Crow, destined to be a chief someday. Crows are the lowest caste, seen as lower than animals and needed but completely unvalued. While the other castes have Birthrights that give them special powers (e.g. Phoenixes have fire, Swans have desire), Crows are without any such Birthrights. The chiefs are bone witches, where using teeth can temporarily give them the powers of the former owner. While everyone detests Crows, and some even hunt them in the night, Crows are necessary to fight the plague. The plague seems to be punishment for sinners, and Crows are immune. When someone is infected with the plague, they call the Crows to town to give them a mercy killing and to burn the body. If the Crows do not come, the whole town will soon be infected. The Crows are then paid viatik, a price which is appropriate for the caste and along the lines of what the people can afford. The book starts with a bang- the Crows are attending to the plague in a higher caste area than usually would be infected. Soon, Fie learns that the dead are the crown prince, Jasimir, a Pheonix, and his guard and body double, Tavin, a Hawk. They faked their deaths to save Jasimir’s life from his stepmother, who is determined to kill everyone who stands in her way of the crown. Jasimir strikes a bargain with the Crows- they will help him get to safety with his allies, and he will then protect the Crows when takes the crown. What follows is a dangerous and fantastic journey into the depths of this unique world. What I loved: The world-building here is slow but strong. Everything is revealed organically without any knowledge dumps and it grows steadily throughout the book. The characters are equally strong with the tenacious Fie leading this marvelous cast. I was completely drawn into her story and loved seeing the world through her eyes. She is just amazing- clever, loving of her family, brave, and everything you want in a leading character. The romance that develops with her is simply beautiful, and I absolutely loved watching it grow throughout the story. With danger, trickery, magic, and more, this book has everything you could want in a YA fantasy and then some. With the addition of social justice themes, this book becomes an even bigger story with some important messages. For instance, there are discussions not only of the way the Crows are treated and the hate they constantly see, but also of others’ privilege and how people begin to sympathize with them and motives behind such changes. Final verdict: With fantastic writing, gorgeous storytelling and lush world building, THE MERCIFUL CROW is an unbelievably good read for YA fantasy lovers. I highly recommend for fans of Sabaa Tahir and Leah Bardugo. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Anonymous 4 months ago
The Merciful Crow is a dark and unique fantasy, with death, magic, family bonds, and a little romance as well. Fie is a 16 year-old girl training to be chief of a band of Crows - the bottom (but necessary) level of a world broken down into castes. The Crows are the providers of mercy killings and funeral pyres to those of the other castes who fall victim to the plague - Crows themselves are the only caste immune to it. When the band of Crows that Fie belongs to is called to the palace to collect the bodies of two dead royals for the first time in hundreds of years, she's expecting a big payday - until her chief and pa reveals that these two lordlings aren't actually dead, only pretending to escape assassination attempts by the Prince's (one of the presumed plague-struck royals) stepmother, who now has an heir of her own. A deal is struck between the Crows and the lordlings, as Fie calls them, and so begins their treacherous journey, which calls into question loyalties, family bonds, what is truly "the right thing to do" when there seem to be no good options, and the Crows highest rule: look after your own. I thought the writing was awesome and engaging throughout the book, and the storyline had a bit of classic fairytale to it (stepmothers and all that) with some very unique twists that I love. Overall, very well done in my opinion!