“I am more than my emotions, more than my depression and fear.”The Storm Crow
Please note there is a trigger warning for this book.
I will not include anything explicit in my review.
I truly don’t remember how I came across this duology. Most likely the first book in the duology was featured in a book subscription box and I saw some unboxing videos on Instagram featuring the book, thought that the cover looked pretty and bought it. I know I shouldn’t be judging books by their cover, but come on, the cover looks gorgeous.
Starting with the first book in the duology, The Storm Crow is about Anthia (or Thia for short). She is the youngest princess of Rhodaire, a tropical kingdom where magical elemental Crows (yes, the bird) are integrated into their everyday life. However, eventually, the neighbouring kingdom of Illucia invaded Rhodaire and killed all their Crows and the Queen, leaving them powerless.
That invasion triggered Thia’s depression and while she’s battling with her emotions, her older sister Caliza, who took over from the dead Queen, is trying to get their kingdom back on its feet again. However, as a result of rebuilding and repairing the kingdom, Caliza organised an arranged marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia. This arrangement causes Thia to act which ultimately leads her to the last Crow egg that she found in the rubble of her damaged home. Now, she and Caliza attempt to hatch the egg in secret and the preparations to defeat Illucia and to get out of Thia’s marriage is underway.
Thia is our main character and is a good mix of an active character who gets things done but also, a character who is battling a mental illness and doesn’t get anything done. Now, if you’ve read my other book reviews, you’ll know that I highly respect novels with diversity and/or mental illness, so, this could just be my bias, but I appreciated the depiction of mental illness. While the main plot of reviving the Crow population is diving the book, Thia’s sub-plot of her battle with mental illness gives this book a level of seriousness and realness that made me like Thia so much more. Some days are hard, but she tries to overcome those days. And I love her for it.
Caliza, despite being responsible for Thia’s arranged marriage, is likeable! At first, when I read the plot summary for this book I was terrified that Caliza was an evil sister, but she’s not. She is responsible, smart and more than capable of ruling the kingdom, and ultimately the decision she made concerning Thia’s marriage was more or less forced by the Illlucian Queen. Also, her husband, though he doesn’t play a huge role in the novel, was likeable as well. I don’t have much to say about him but hopefully, he plays a bigger role in the next book.
Now, the Illucian queen is characterized in such a way that she is your stereotypic evil queen BUT she is not boring! She made me angry and furious so many times during the course of the book. I don’t want to spoil this character too much, but she got my blood boiling and is definitely a formidable villain.
Of course, who could forget Prince Ericen? He’s the bad boy character of the book, has an attitude, kind of mysterious, but also has a soft spot for Thia. You know, he’s that character. Okay, I sounded a little bit sarcastic there, but we all know what kind of character I’m talking about. I don’t necessarily hate the bad boy character in YA, I just want a better depiction of that character i.e a character who is not border-line abusive. The good news is that Ericen is just that character! And instead of having extreme romantic tension between Ericen and Thia, the two actually develop a really good friendship first. Personally, I really liked that relationship development. Thia has depression and instead of being a hero and saviour character, he instead tries to motivate her and tries to help her overcome her negative emotions. Their relationship has a solid foundation and I’m excited to see how their relationship more naturally develops into something more. Also, surprisingly, while he is mentioned a lot in the book by name, he actually doesn’t feature as much as Thia (and her friends). Again, personally, I prefer that because it highlights Thia’s story. She’s the main character and the romantic sub-plot is still there, but it is not the focus of the story. So, A+ to the author for finally writing a bad boy character I can 100% support.
And of course, since the Crows are important characters in the novel, I thought I’d say a few things about them as well. They are cute and badass. That is all you need to know.
“I am more”The Crow Rider
Now onto The Crow Rider. I just recently finished reading this book and while I’m sad that the story has come to an end, it was a great ride getting there. Waiting a year for this book felt like the longest year ever, especially knowing that this is a duology and that this would be the end for Thia’s Crow-riding adventures.
This second novel picks up where the last left off. Thia hatched a Crow egg, and now she and her allies are making moves to defeat the Illucian Queen once and for all. Her first task is to convince neighbouring kingdoms to join her cause. The problem is, ironically, Thia’s Crow – Res. While Res is growing stronger every day, he still loses control of his own magic, sometimes harming people as a result. So, as the planned rebellion gains steam, Res’ powers become more uncontrollable and Thia is put in a position where she questions if she can actually lead the rebellion to victory.
On top of that, the Prince she ran away from is hunting her down. While he and Thia developed a strong friendship, ultimately he is still the Prince of the kingdom Thia is trying to defeat – he is the one person she cannot trust, yet finds herself attracted to nonetheless.
Thia’s external and internal battles are so much emphasized in the second book. While she’s trying to get an alliance together to finally take down the Illucian Queen, Razel, Thia is also dealing with her depression which is constantly bruising her confidence. Seeing her actually battle her darker thoughts throughout the book was something that really meant a lot. I’ve mentioned this before, but any mental illness depictions in YA is a big step forward in the right directors. Also, contrasting Thia’s negativity with her motivation and drive for peace is also something I liked about her character. She’s trying to overcome her emotions, and while this is a long process, Thia does a great job of not letting the hard days win.
Before I forget, Thia’s friends also deserve a mention. I didn’t mention them earlier because there are a lot of characters part of Thia’s friend circle and extended circle, so I’ll talk about them very generally. At one point there was a bit of a love triangle with Thia, Ericen and one other character. I admit I actually liked this love triangle (or what there was of it) and I thought the love triangle issue was also solved in a really mature way (issues arising because miscommunication infuriates me! And thankfully, they know how to communicate here). Also, Thia’s Crow. He’s adorable and reading this book makes me want to get myself a magical crow. My favourite thing about the Crow? The bird-related jokes. I don’t know why but something about hearing a giant magical crow being called a ‘chicken’ made me smile.
Now, trust is a huge theme in the novels, and this was a theme I personally related to and enjoyed reading about. Thia is constantly told by many people that she trusts too easily, while they saw it as a weakness, I actually thought it was a strength of hers. Think about it this way: instead of being untrustful of everyone and of their intentions, Thia chooses to see the best in people and so, she trusts them. I like that perspective.
So, before I finish off this post, I thought I’d talk a little bit about the author. Kalyn Josephson is by profession a Technical Writer but evidently, she also writes fiction. She’s finished The Storm Crow duology and according to her Instagram, she’s possibly planning another series? Maybe I misinterpreted the message. Maybe I didn’t. Either way, I’d love to read whatever she comes out with next. In regards to the actual books, the depictions of depression were inspired by her own experience with it. (I am in awe at how brave and honest she’s been in writing about depression in the books, so, if you ever somehow end up reading my review: thank you for this duology!!!). Also, a completely irrelevant fun fact, she has two cats and I honestly would not be surprised if I find out that Thia’s Crow was inspired by her cats.
Now the only thing I could not stand about the first book is the inevitable relationship of Thia and Ericen. Don’t get me wrong, out of all the ‘bad boy’ characters in YA Ericen actually is pretty decent, individually he is not a bad character and his relationship development with Thia is respectful while also being steamy. But once, just once, I’d love to read a YA book without this bad boy trope. I am over it. In saying so, Ericen is an acceptable bad boy character, and if there has to be a bad boy type character in a book, then at the very least I want it to be like Ericen.
(Note: in the second book Ericen is not front and centre as much, and he is more of a sweetheart and I approve).
For the second book, my only issue was that some of the writing felt a little bit off. This is a personal thing, I’m sure not everyone has this same issue, it could just be me. But yeah. I just felt that some of the lines in the second book were worded a little bit weirdly. Truly though, this is just me being a bit nit-picky.
To conclude, this was a really enjoyable duology. Both books are not very long but the author seems to perfectly give us enough world-building information, character developments and plot, without the book feeling too slow or too rushed. It’s fun and interesting, and it will be a duology I recommend to people if they want to read something short and sweet but still entertaining. So, that’s it for my review, thank you for reading it and as usual I hope you have a lovely day,
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