by Kalyn Josephson
Series: The Storm Crow #1
Published on July 9, 2019 by Sourcebooks Fire
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life...until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything.
That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother's death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost.
But 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.
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I feel like I’m constantly hitting a wall of generic YA fantasy with books lately and, unfortunately, The Storm Crow fell into that category. Aside from the fact that I should have put it down long before the end, I found the characters fell flat and the story far too predictable to make it an enjoyable read for me.
I was instantly drawn into the idea of a world filled with magical creatures (in this case crows) that are integral to the way of life. Reminded me a lot of Dinotopia in that aspect which was one of my favorite movies as a kid. Unfortunately that world exists for all of. . . the prologue. If I’m being perfectly honest, it’s the primary reason I was interested in this book because, beyond a pretty cover, the synopsis read with the strong potential for a “rebellious princess” and “chosen one.” I like a well-used trope as much as the next person but it wasn’t working with The Storm Crow for me.
The princess in question, Thia, read pretty flat. She tended to focus inward a lot and her constant stream of thoughts made me want to skim until something happened, usually her reacting to something else. I felt like Thia was more of a bystander in a larger story and tended to be more curious about what her friend and guard Kiva was doing — except her friend was soon reduced to a bargaining chip to get Thia to obey. And then we get the prince Thia is supposed to marry who’s typecast as a total jerk with a tragic history that’s made him tough. Except it doesn’t make me feel bad for him, only confused with the personality 180 he pulls halfway through the book.
Then there’s the romance. Every romantic encounter in this book read as majorly insta-lovey. The relationship between Thia and one of the side characters came completely out of left field and felt unnecessary. She didn’t need to have a thing with him to make anything else in the story happen, and the romance seemed like it was added in last minute. Oh, and then there’s this whole love triangle potential presented near the end??? Thanks, but I’ll pass. I can see that coming up in the next book and I’m not here for it.
I will say that I really appreciated the diversity of the cast. Thia is described as a woman of color and the races of the various kingdoms are described across a wide range of racial backgrounds. In addition, several same-sex couples pop up as secondary characters and are simply part of the world which I thought was well done rather than calling it out. It felt natural. Granted, I can’t read into how good the rep for either aspect.
When it comes to the story, I can’t deny that the writing is solid. The pacing is good and isn’t bogged down with flowery descriptions. To be honest, the descriptions of, well, everything are kind of limited that I only visualized about half the book. But with the clean writing style, this book was a very quick read even though I wasn’t invested in any part of it beyond finishing. The actual plot is predictable at best, with an evil queen who is nothing but evil (seriously, can we get a better motivation to her because the one that’s given never felt strong enough to support her character) and a princess who doesn’t want to get married. Throw in the last crow egg and suddenly we’re dealing with a serious Chosen One dilemma.
I’m okay with predictability. Most books are to some degree, especially if it’s a genre you read a lot (and I read a lot of YA fantasy). But what finally lost The Storm Crow for me was the fact that everything came so easy for Thia. Each time she had a challenge, it suddenly resolved or wrapped up with minimal effort. Her foreign guards are trailing her? All she does is ask and they’re gone. It seems ridiculously easy to communicate with the rebels. When she’s forced to face her fears to save a friend, she comes out nearly unscathed. I never felt like she was in danger. There was no tension. And so I didn’t care what happened to Thia because everything would work out.
I had the ending pegged halfway through the book. It follows what I’ve seen time and again in other books and sets up for the sequel. The Storm Crow had no surprises for me which was disappointing and partially why the low rating. For finishing the book, I gave it a star. For the solid writing and interesting world idea of the crows, there’s another star. But that’s all I can give it unfortunately and don’t think I’ll bother with the sequel.