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.
DISCLAIMER: I received an ARC from the author through a giveaway. This remains, as always, an honest review.
EXPECTED JULY 9, 2019
CW: animal death, loss of a loved one, violence, self-harm, graphic injury, domestic abuse, parental neglect
I feel like I should start this by saying that TSC is ATLA meets HTTYD meets REALLY BIG BIRDS, so if any of those things catch your attention (or all of them tbh), you should probably get this book in your hands as soon as you possibly can.
And if you haven’t heard yet, this book follows Anthia, princess of Rhodaire, in the wake of the destruction of the crows that were so central to her kingdom’s life up until six months ago. Forced into an arranged marriage to the prince of the kingdom that invaded, and hiding a storm crow egg from her enemies, Thia has to find a way to take everything back, to save Rhodaire from whatever terrible fate the Illucian queen has planned for it.
In some ways, this made me a touch wary, but within only a couple chapters of the book, I knew this wasn’t going to be the same old same old enemies to lovers situation between royals. For once, the book deals a lot with Thia’s depression, especially as it relates to the trauma of Ronoch, the night the crows were killed. It explores how frustrated she is, feeling the way she does, and how hard it can be to just get up and face the day. Not to mention she has a support system by way of her best friend and bodyguard, Kiva, and through her sister Caliza, once Caliza comes to understand how Thia feels.
Another thing I loved, of course, is that there’s a lot of casual queerness. Kiva is into girls (I am begging the universe for any and all depictions of butch Kiva tbh; she’s possibly my favorite character and also I love what she names her sword), it’s rumor that Thia’s mom once had a thing with the woman who taught Kiva to fly with the crows, and there are two instances of minor male characters with a boyfriend/husband. Not to mention Kiva’s love interest has me doing 👀👀👀👀 all day long because…well, I can’t tell you, because it would be a spoilery sort of theory. That said, it leans into one of my favorite possible shipping tropes involving a bodyguard, and I NEED IT.
And to top it off, the romance didn’t go as I expected it to, which made me sigh the BIGGEST relief sigh. Seriously. I was worried this might be another enemies to lovers that I hate because the power dynamics are rooted in such unequal footing, but as it turns out, that wasn’t how it shook out! And it also gave me what could be a really interesting friendship with room for a lot of growth while also providing an LI who doesn’t make me wanna tear my hair out. NICE.
Really, there wasn’t much about TSC that I didn’t like. After all, I read it in a single sitting, gave it 5 stars, and then went and yelled about it on Twitter because AAAAAAHHH! It really is that good and that much fun! In fact, I think my only complaint is that the title storm crow isn’t in the novel just a bit more, but it ends in a place where OBVIOUSLY we’re going to get more crow action, and I can accept that.
Oh, and while I’m !!!ing about this (yes, that’s a verb now, shhh), I should mention that this book starts digging into cycles of violence, how that violence carries down over generations, and where those cycles could end. There’s also a question of between being helpless and being complicit, weighed alongside the effort of upending one’s understanding of how things are for how they could and often should be.
Really, I recommend reading TSC. It’s out on July 9th (only a couple weeks away!), so there’s definitely still time to pre-order it! And even if you don’t pre-order, requesting through a library works too. No matter what approach you take, though, give this book a shot. It’s positively brilliant, and as I understand it, it’ll be a duology, with the next book slated for 2020. Also, there’s very big birds. Always a fun plus, right?