Here’s the Tea: A Review of The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen


Book Summary:

“One way or another, we always feed the crows.

A future chieftain 

Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.

A fugitive prince 

When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses―and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns. 

A too-cunning bodyguard

Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?”

Here’s the Tea:

When we first meet Fie, our heroine, she’s at the royal palace and she’s a bit restless as her Pa is taking too long to cut some people’s throats, but don’t worry, it’s only a mercy for the dying plague ridden sinners.

For Pa is the chief of a band of the Merciful Crow’s, the lowest caste in the twelve that make up the people of their world.

Fie is a chief-in-training, and it is their duty to answer when the plague beacon calls. They’re almost like ferrymen, helping the dying to pass from this life to the next.

Also they are immune to the plague, so the rest of the Castes see it as their duty to pick up and dispose of the dead, but even though their doing the world a giant favor by doing this and not letting the plague spread and wipe out an entire village, people still look down on them and treat them like dirt. Lower than dirt. From actually spitting on them, cheating them of viatik (their form of payment for services rendered), to outright hunting them down and murdering them in the night.

The world sees them as a blight meanwhile they just want to do their jobs in peace.

Not too long after they remove the dead sinners from the palace, which is quite the scandal as no royal (Phoenixes are their caste) has died of the plague in 500 years or so, do we find out that they’re not quite that dead. As it turns out they actually just smuggled out the crown prince and his Hawk bodyguard/body-double, which Pa knew but the others weren’t quite clued in on.

You see the prince’s step mother, the Queen, is a nutter and wants him dead. So with the help of his guard, Tavin aka brains of the operation, the prince, Jas aka naive boy, takes his chance to get out and get to allies who can help him rein in the Queen before she kills off him and his dad. To do that they need the help of the Crow’s so they can keep cover while traveling to said allies.

But Fie, being the clever darling she is, takes the chance to strike a Covenant bound bargain between the Crows and the prince: the Crows get them to safety and when the prince is king he will give them Hawk protection. Hawks are like the warriors/protectors of this world, but they also treat the Crows like scum, so there is a lot of animosity between these two castes.

Little did they all know that this bargain, oath really, would take them on a journey through deception and betrayal, hate, love, prejudice and violence, and ultimately to understanding and acceptance of how the world is really working around them.

I so much enjoyed reading these characters stories and watching them grow, even as they fumbled through their misconceptions.

Fie is a strong, beautifully written character. She is fierce, she stands up for what she believes in, and she is unfalteringly loyal to the people she loves, even when that loyalty proves difficult.

Jas is so naive, I almost couldn’t stand it, he was so indignant most of the time, but he had to open his eyes to the world around him. In the end he actually became one of my favorite characters.

Tavin is a cinnamon roll (you can’t convince me otherwise), he has such a good heart and open mind and he protects those he cares about determinedly, even if it’s to a bitter end.

Grr, there are so many more amazing things to talk about that I haven’t even touched on, from the tooth magic (yes teeth), and the wonderful side characters, to Fie and Tavin, Birthrights and Barf. But this post would be amazingly long if I did and some things you may want to discover for yourself.

I will say that there were moments I struggled to turn the page. Sometimes I had to reread some parts as certain story points weren’t quite clear or the dialogue between the characters became confusing, but aside from that this was so good guys and is definitely one to recommend!

The Rating:

Out of 5 toadies I am giving this one a 4! It was so unique and fantastical. I can’t wait for the second one!

Favorite Line(s):

Every line in which Fie gave someone a verbal smack down. (Trust me, 99.9% of the time it was deserved.)

Most Intriguing Character:

Viimo, a Vulture with an agenda of her own.

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