Review | Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson

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.

Title: The Storm Crow

Author: Kalyn Josephson

Genre: Fantasy YA

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

[DISCLAIMER] I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book in a Fairyloot subscription box so please note that changes may have been made in the finished copy.

I was so happy to get this book in my December 2018 Fairyloot box. An advanced copy of anything is exciting, but a book about elemental crows big enough to ride and warring kingdoms just makes it so much better!

And this book was a pretty enjoyable read, I thought about it when I wasn’t reading it, and it was fun. But it wasn’t quite amazing.

Let’s start with the bad things first so I can finish on a high:

Cliche YA:

The writing style felt a little cliche, like a lot of YA books I used to read. I could guess the type of personality a character would have before even knowing their name, and the plot twists were more things I was waiting around for until they happened.

It starts to chill out a bit towards the middle of the book, and the main guy main character has started to act less like a walking cliche which I appreciate. Though I think maybe a little more show rather than tell about how the other countries were also oppressed would have been good.

Metaphors and similes were like water in a thunderstorm… everywhere:

This title kind of says it all. Imagine that same sentence but copied over and over. Everything was like something else! I think this may have been less obvious if more of the similes had been metaphors? Like for example, ‘The torrential downpour of my thoughts’ as opposed to ‘my thoughts were like a torrential downpour, flooding my mind’ might break up the rhythm a bit.

The similes can work well, but used a bit more sparingly I could have the chance to see how the character changes from worrying inside her head to when she’s more straight-to-the-point, the contrast would be good.

Also, “the lanterns reflected off the fog like moonlight on water” took me a while to really imagine… I think those two things didn’t mix well in my head.

Unique voices for characters:

Sometimes it was a little hard to tell which character was saying what. Not because the writing made it confusing, more because the voices weren’t that unique. This was especially the case with Thia and her best friend; they were so similar that it made me stumble on some scenes while reading their dialogue.

Suspenseful scenes a little rushed:

This title doesn’t really need much description: the fight scenes or chase scenes all kind of ended quickly and with little fanfare. A little description or internal monologue thrown in the scene, or just a bit more of the scene itself, would have helped to drag the suspense out and make the climax a little more dramatic.

But there were some really good things about the book also!

Representation of depression:

I really appreciated depression being represented pretty well, how it can come in waves and just knock you out when you thought you were doing fine. Lots of people think you can be ‘fixed’ when you have depression, but it’s more years of learning how to counterbalance the negative voices in your head and remembering that the bad parts won’t be bad forever. Mental health is usually a lifelong battle.

World:

The world of The Storm Crow was really imaginative and new. Giant crows you can ride and that have elemental powers just sounds so unique, I’ve never heard of anything like it before! I’m really looking forward to how this world gets developed in later books, and to some more details about the other lands mentioned in this book.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book. There were some niggles that I think can easily be ironed out in sequels and I’ll be keeping an eye on this author for future books down the line. Also, you always have to remember that a fair amount can change between an ARC and a finished copy, so I’d check that out before making any solid calls on this book.

I liked it, and that’s all you really have to get out of a book in the end.

Review | Shadow of Night by Deborah Harkness

Picking up from A Discovery of Witches’ cliffhanger ending, Shadow of Night takes Diana and Matthew on a trip through time to Elizabethan London, where they are plunged into a world of spies, magic, and a coterie of Matthew’s old friends, the School of Night. As the search for Ashmole 782 deepens and Diana seeks out a witch to tutor her in magic, the net of Matthew’s past tightens around them, and they embark on a very different—and vastly more dangerous—journey.

Title: Shadow of Night

Author: Deborah Harkness

Genre: Paranormal

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️

SPOILER ALERT: Second in a series so there will be spoilers for the first book.

TW: Miscarriage, abusive relationships, violence, etc. Check out the book online before you read it if you’re worried about anything similar to these.

So… *breathes* OH. MY. GOD.

How much sexism can one book hold?!

It took at least 100 pages of this book for Diana to do… pretty much anything. Before this the book is just a barrage of sexist comments and snide remarks towards her and Matthew slowly morphing further into the brooding thoughtless man he apparently was in the past (and also the future if we’re being honest). It was kind of dull and I genuinely thought about just putting this book down.

They’re in the past trying to help with Diana’s magic while safely away from the council members who would happily kill Diana in the future. Given that this was their reason for going, they certainly don’t prioritise it. They never mentioned how long they were planning on going back for, how they were going to fit back in to Matthew’s life in the past, or if they even should have tried to!

Messing with the past is always a dangerous business in any book or tv show or film, so I don’t really see why two intelligent characters would completely forget any semblance of a plan. They thought Matthew appearing in the past with a wife and parading her around his old friends would have no effect?

And Matthew. Just… Matthew. *sigh*

If you ever meet a Matthew in your own life, please do yourself the biggest of favours and run in the opposite direction.

Here’s a summary of Matthew:

He bit Diana to prove a point that she shouldn’t have ‘allowed’ someone to talk to her in the streets. He blames her for things that aren’t her fault, physically hurts her, and abandons her for many hours a day and then returns just to blame her for moving an inch away from where he left her.

He can’t handle Diana not telling him EVERYTHING she does or who she talks to, so much so that he was scarily angry until she allowed him to effectively read her mind. (Seems very much the same as when an abusive guy berates his partner until she shows him all her texts and emails. Then he’s kind for a short period of time so that the woman is tricked into thinking everything is fine and the cycle starts again. Seriously, scary.)

This is very much a manipulative if not abusive relationship.

Oh, and if you thought Matthew was justified for killing Gillian Chamberlain in the previous book for sending photos to Diana, then you’ll want to obliterate Kit Marlowe in this book.

He purposely puts Diana in life threatening situations again and again out of spite. This makes Matthews motivations even less understandable – what threat to your wife is worth killing for? How far does someone have to go before they’re on your hit list? The grading scale is very arbitrary.

So I could go on for ages about the sexism and abusive relationship in this book, but I think you get the picture.

I’ll end this with a few things I actually really liked!

Phillipe and Gallowglass were some of my favourite characters. They were more thoughtful, more respectful, and generally better people than a lot of the others. I’m very much on the dump-Matthew-and-marry-Gallowglass team, though I know it has about as much chance of happening as Matthew actually apologising so I won’t hold out hope.

The manuscript hunt, though kind of ignored for a lot of the book, was also fun. Lots of twists and turns and finding out some pretty big bombshells about the manuscript pages. Very entertaining.

Also, I really hope Diana, now she’s learned more about her magic and has more of a backbone, actually starts to stand up for herself more in future books and FINALLY puts Matthew in his place. It’s only taken me two books to get this far… but I haven’t given up hope yet!

Bring on the next book: more Matthew bashing, rolling of the eyes, and hopefully more of Diana being awesome to come!