ARC Review: The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen | interesting world, but not the most memorable

The Merciful Crow

by Margaret Owen

“There was one way off this road, and that was to walk it to its end.”

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To be published July 30, 2019 by Henry Holt

384 pages

Genre: YA fantasy

Date finished: July 16, 2019

Content warnings: plague, gore





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?

My thoughts (spoiler free)

In this fantasy world, society is divided into castes, all of which are named after birds. The highest caste, the royalty, are Phoenixes, while the lowest caste, the Crows, are mercy killers who prevent the plague from spreading across the land. Traveling from town to town doing their duty, Crows are downtrodden and disrespected, constantly fearing for their lives. However, one Crow, a future chieftain named Fie, might have the chance to change that for good.

I’ll start out by saying that the worldbuilding was my favorite aspect of this book. Magic is stored in teeth, and Crows have the ability to essentially steal the special abilities of other castes by burning the power inside the teeth they carry with them. The whole system is unique and kind of creepy, which is what makes it so cool in my eyes.

However, there wasn’t much else about this book that stood out to me. Maybe this book is another victim of me simply not Feeling It with any YA high fantasy I’ve been reading lately. There wasn’t anything hugely wrong with the book, but I just didn’t care for most of it. When I wasn’t reading, I didn’t feel a strong urge to pick it up, and when I was reading, I didn’t feel a compulsion to keep going. I doubt this is a book that’s going to stick with me for a long time.

That said, 3 stars isn’t a bad rating. I’m sure there are lots of people out there who are going to love this book – there are plenty of elements that I know will appeal to other readers out there. My own failure to connect to the characters and story does not make it a bad book!

Of the three main characters – Fie, Tavin, and Jasimir – I found myself most curious about Jasimir, even though he’s certainly not the focus of the book. I did enjoy the reluctant friendship that grows between him and Fie. Fie herself is a great narrator – righteously angry and reluctant to open herself up to trusting new people. And Tavin provided both comic relief and some emotional depth to the relationships between the characters. The dynamic between the three was great, and I appreciated the fact that all of them challenged each other’s worldview in some way to help the others grow.

If you’re a fan of most YA fantasies, I feel like this is a book that you’ll really enjoy. Despite the fact that it wasn’t the most memorable book for me, it’s still well-written with undeniably unique worldbuilding. It might not have worked for me, but I’m sure it will for others!

Similar books:

Image result for the boneless mercies Related image Image result for sabriel garth nix Related image

x Margaret 

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13 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen | interesting world, but not the most memorable

  1. Nice review. When starting a book for a review, one of my greatest fears is along the lines of those feelings you mentioned about not necessarily wanting to pick it up after laying it down or caring enough to keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review, Margaret! 🙂 It happens sometimes that we fail to connect with characters in a book that has been loved by many others. But that’s okay. Even I had a similar experience with a recent book.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well, I adore three out of the four books you said it was similar to (and just haven’t read the other one), hahaha. This has definitely been a case of cover love for me, but also title love, and I really hope that doesn’t lead lackluster reading. However, the second you said the magic was contained in teeth, all I could think of was Daughter of Smoke & Bone, and that is a high threshold to meet, so we’ll see. Thank you for the review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well I certainly hope you enjoy this book more than I did! The cover and title certainly are beautiful, and often it does just come down to a personal preference thing. And I’d totally forgotten that there was teeth magic in DoS&B too – that’s a great comparison!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved this review and how you included similar books to it– so handy!! This is a book I want to try out because well to be honest the cover is what got my initial interest but I liked the concept too!! It certainly sounds like a unique world and system– I’ve never seen a book which uses teeth for magic!!
    I’m sorry you couldn’t connect to the characters or the story strongly but I think I will try it out and see if it is for me!!
    Again great review– so clear and well-written!! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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