The Storm Crow (The Storm Crow #1) by Kalyn Josephson

This debut YA fantasy is the first in a duology and blew me away!

About the Book

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire  |  Release Date: July 9, 2019  |  Pages: 352
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy  |  Format: eARC  |  Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

The Storm Crow coverIn 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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My Review

Words cannot express how much I loved this book. I loved this book so much that I bought a finished copy when I was only 10% into my eARC. (Which was a great decision, it is so damn pretty!) If you enjoy books that feature good sibling relationships, intricate world-building, female friendships, then this book is for you.

“Words pierced like talons, hooking deep.”

The Storm CrowThe world-building is all-encompassing and you can tell that Josephson spent a lot of time developing the religious and cultural beliefs for each of the regions, though we learn the most about Rhodaire and Illucia in this book. You can tell how integral the crows are to Rhodaire through language: words cutting like talons, feathers in the stomach for excitement, and counting crows to go to sleep being examples. I really enjoyed how the book starts with the action and slowly reveals bits about the world through the narrative (although I was a bit hungry for descriptions of the crows and how the magic worked a little sooner than was revealed).

“Mist had begun to gather along the bridge, turning the Sona lamps into spots of blurred color that blended into each other like paints on a canvas.”

Josephson has a way with words and I really connected with her writing style. The book is fast-paced and descriptive, I could visualize myself among all of the action. The writing is lush but isn’t over-burdened; the writing flows with almost a poetic cadence.

“The world didn’t feel real. Each breath felt like a lie, as if I’d climbed out of a cocoon into another realm, one of ash and shadowed memories that tore at me like talons.”

The story is told in the first-person perspective of Anthia, or Thia for short. Strong-willed and passionate, she was on the cusp of becoming a rider. Until Illucian invaded and destroyed their way of life, that is. Thia is overcome by her grief and the depression representation in this book is amazing. Not only does Josephson nail the struggles of simply getting out of bed and the feelings of guilt and shame associated with it, but also in how friends and family struggle to understand something they have no reference for. There is a particular scene where Thia’s sister Caliza, meaning well, asks if she has “anything productive planned for today,” and the conversation which followed tugged at my heartstrings. It is worth it to note that this story is about Thia’s situational depression and her journey to conquering it. While the symptoms are similar to chronic/clinical depression, it’s important to note that the cause and recovery process are completely different.

“I couldn’t remember feeling anything other than pain and misery and fear, all of it overlaid by a layer of guilt thick and suffocating as smoke.”

I loved the characters so incredibly much. All of the characters, even the villains, are three-dimensional with complex feelings and motivations. Thia and Kiva’s friendship is such a treat to experience, and it shows how someone can be there for a friend with depression. Thia is a main character I couldn’t help but root for. She is strong but not broken, her sarcastic defiance and unwillingness to buckle stokes a fire, giving her a purpose and helping to process her grief.

“I knew what I needed to do, but working up the will to do it felt like trying to fight my way above water in a depthless ocean. It was so hard not to drown.”

I also loved that this book is casually gay. Shearan has a boyfriend and it is hinted that Thia’s mother once had a relationship with Estrel. I adore Kiva’s love interest and I cannot WAIT to find out more about her in the next book, because of reasons. One thing that I really appreciated was that Thia’s romance didn’t go in the direction that I feared it would.

The Storm Crow touches on cycles of violence and vengeance being carried on through generations. The question then becomes will they be doomed to continue the cycle? I love stories where the protagonists want to right the wrongs of the previous generations. Thia is determined to save Rhodaire, and I am excited to see how everything plays out.

I honestly cannot recommend The Storm Crow enough to fans of YA fantasy. The book is plotted incredibly well and I cannot wait for the sequel to this duology so I can see what happens to all of these characters. This is a stunning debut!

TL;DR: Here are my bullet-point thoughts: 

– The depression rep means the world to me.
– Amazing sibling relationship.
– Great female friendship!
– lgbqiap+ rep (f/f and m/m) – it’s casually gay
– Fast-paced and engaging writing. I really connected with the writing style — very descriptive, I felt like I was there in the room.
– Features political machinations, racial tensions, lush worldbuilding with glimpses of culture for each of the areas that are woven into the narrative without ever feeling like an infodump. There is also an origin myth included, which was so wonderful.
– I only wish I understood the magic a bit more and that crows were described visually at the start of the book.
– I loved the nuance with comments like “feathers in my stomach” to root everything in their belief system and the importance of the crows to Rhodaire.
– The narrative touches on cycles of violence and vengeance carrying on through generations.

CONTENT WARNINGS: death, depression, self-harm, violence

🤝 Buddy read with Reg @ Bookish in Bed!

eARC provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review. Quotations are taken from an uncorrected proof and subject to change upon final publication. 

spacer_wLet’s go on another adventure together!

42 Comments

  1. thebookprescription

    July 18, 2019 at 1:30 PM

    Glad you loved this one!

    1. Ahana Rao

      July 21, 2019 at 11:03 PM

      Oh gosh Kal!! I’ve heard so much about this book and I’m so glad you liked it too! Your review is just as intense as the books sounds. Descriptive and lush. Man, I so can’t wait to read this one!!

      1. Kal

        July 28, 2019 at 6:59 PM

        Aww, thank you so much and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

  2. sepiareads

    July 18, 2019 at 1:56 PM

    This is such a great review! It makes me even more excited to read The Storm Crow 😁

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 5:49 PM

      Thank you, Sepia, and I hope you love the book as much as I did! I honestly can’t stop thinking about this one.

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  4. Meeghan reads

    July 18, 2019 at 10:32 PM

    Oh no!! I’ve had this one sitting on my shelves for months!!! Why haven’t I read it yet, Kal?! (I think it came as the second book in a FairyLoot box a while ago… it’s just there… staring at me… judging me… 🙈🙈)
    But I’m really glad you loved it!!

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 5:58 PM

      Meeghan, that was how I felt! I didn’t read the eARC until after the book freaking published and I am SO DAMN MAD at myself. The book is incredible and I hope you pick it up & enjoy it soon!

      1. Meeghan reads

        July 28, 2019 at 6:23 PM

        *adds it to my ARC August pile*

  5. Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky

    July 19, 2019 at 1:16 AM

    Omg you had me at the depression rep!! YES to more YA fantasy exploring mental health! And I adore corvids and want to see them featured more in books, so this is like, PERFECT. Awesome review, Kal!

    1. Susan

      July 19, 2019 at 12:00 PM

      Yes yes and yea! I also loved and adored this book!!!!

    2. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 6:01 PM

      I had no idea about the depression rep (or maybe I did months ago when I read the synopsis, but I clearly forgot), and I was legit so pleasantly surprised to /see myself and my struggles/ depicted so well. It is so rare and I think it is done in a way that people who don’t know what depression is like will understand a little.

  6. Macey Gloria

    July 19, 2019 at 9:19 AM

    I positively ADORE books that create rich, detailed cultures and the religions and histories of those cultures. It gives the entire story such a real feeling, and I think we have Tolkien to thank for that! The Storm Crow sounds fantastic x

    twinklexthoughts.blogspot.com

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 6:02 PM

      Oh my gosh, me too – intricate worldbuilding is my ultimate fave, especially when it isn’t an infodump. It’s honestly masterful when done well, and I really enjoyed this book because of it!

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  8. TheCaffeinatedReader

    July 20, 2019 at 12:59 PM

    DANG IT KAL. Well I loved your review and I can’t wait to read it now, ughhhhh. My tbr.

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 6:34 PM

      HAHAHAAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHA

  9. TheCaffeinatedReader

    July 20, 2019 at 1:01 PM

    Whoops, hit post, anyway I was trying to say, I love how you always add quotes and this one was by far my favorite “The world didn’t feel real. Each breath felt like a lie, as if I’d climbed out of a cocoon into another realm, one of ash and shadowed memories that tore at me like talons.” < This convinced me I needed to read it

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 6:35 PM

      That quote is so damn pretty! Honestly, the book is littered with so many amazing quotes but a lot would have been a little spoilery.

  10. Krisha🌸

    July 20, 2019 at 11:47 PM

    I am so excited for this book!! Really glad to hear you loved it 😊💛

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 6:42 PM

      I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and thanks for reading my review!

  11. waytoofantasy

    July 21, 2019 at 1:05 PM

    This sounds great! I have heard mixed things, but such a positive review from you has me wanting to check this one out.

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 6:48 PM

      I haven’t really seen many reviews for this one (then again I am behind on hopping what else is new?), but no book is for every reader so it makes sense. I do wish the crows were more prevalent in the book early on, but that’s my main gripe. I think I was sold because of the depression rep – it was powerful to see myself represented at the time that I did.

      1. waytoofantasy

        July 29, 2019 at 6:58 AM

        I’m really interested in reading it because of the things you’ve said about it here.

  12. Meaghan @ Words Gremlin

    July 21, 2019 at 8:28 PM

    I’m SO GLAD you liked this one!! I’m also 👀 at Kiva’s love interest (I think you and I both have the same reasons haha), and the fact that Thia’s romance wasn’t what was expected? YES!

    But also yes to basically everything you’ve said in this review because you’ve done it! You’ve hit the nail on the head with every reason people ought to read this book!

    And hey, shoutout to how quickly you preordered this, good for you!

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 6:58 PM

      Meaghan this book was incredible and I can’t stop thinking about it! Kiva’s LI… I need some ANSWERS. Also I am so glad that Thia’s romance was unexpected, I have notes early on in my read of “oh hell no, don’t do this problematic shit”. HAHAHAH

      We will need to read the sequel together. And in the meantime shove this book at everyone we know!

      1. Meaghan @ Words Gremlin

        July 28, 2019 at 7:41 PM

        She has to be [REDACTED] and ohhhhhh I am a sucker for bodyguard romances (similar case in point but adult not YA: Priory of the Orange Tree). And YES lmao my early notes are SO ANGRY because I was SO WORRIED it was gonna go that route. But it didn’t! Thank god!

        We will!! And yes, STORM CROW SQUAD GO! 💙

        1. Kal

          August 2, 2019 at 8:19 PM

          Ahhh I am excited for Priory then, because I have been putting that thicc beast off! I just got the audiobook though so that might motivate me at some point.

          I was SO HAPPY about the romance. Like I can’t express how mad I would have been. It makes any potential humanization/redemption better since it isn’t related to love.

          1. Meaghan @ Words Gremlin

            August 2, 2019 at 8:20 PM

            I hope it does! Fingers crossed for you! 🧡

            YES. If there’s redemption, it’s a personal change, not a change for something or someone else.

          2. Kal

            August 3, 2019 at 3:20 PM

            PREACH, SISTAH!

  13. May @ Forever and Everly

    July 21, 2019 at 11:17 PM

    Oh, I’m so happy you loved this, Kal!! Depression rep is so so rare in fantasy, and from what you said in your review about it, I feel like it’s going to really resonate with me. And I just found out today that this had more rep than just the depression rep, and that made me even more excited! Great review, and I’m happy the rep meant so much to you 💖

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 7:01 PM

      I honestly can’t really think of another fantasy book that has depression rep in it, and I never really thought about it until I was 7% into the book and in TEARS because I had never felt so seen in my damn life. And yea, this book also has a sapphic romance and the world is both casually gay and racially diverse!

  14. TheAriesAtlas

    July 22, 2019 at 10:34 AM

    Can’t wait to get my copy from the Library! Definitely looking forward to it.

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 7:08 PM

      Ahhh, I hope you enjoy the book as much as I do!

  15. theorangutanlibrarian

    July 23, 2019 at 3:50 PM

    Oh gosh glad you liked this so much- really want to read it! Love the sound of the characters and world building. Excellent review!

    1. Kal

      July 28, 2019 at 7:10 PM

      Thank you so much, and I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did!

  16. fictionnochaser

    July 29, 2019 at 4:45 PM

    I really need to read this. I will, I swear.

    1. Kal

      August 2, 2019 at 8:35 PM

      You do need to read it and I look forward to your screaming at me while you do!

  17. confessionsofayareader

    July 30, 2019 at 8:55 AM

    Great review! I’m so glad you loved this one, too!

    1. Kal

      August 2, 2019 at 8:47 PM

      Thank you, and I am glad you liked it too!

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