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
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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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 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'm only 7% into THE STORM CROW, but I love it so much already and the depression rep is exactly what I need at this precise moment in my life.
Thank you so much @KalynJosephson for making me feel so seen.
— Kal is a ⛈️ #Stormling (@kalventure) July 10, 2019
“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.
Let’s go on another adventure together!