A fantasy novel that actually puts a name to a mental illness is something I’d never read until The Storm Crow! To see depression being spoken about in fantasy so openly was just wonderful, and I’m so glad I had the chance to read it.
Genre: YA Fantasy
Publication Date: 9th July, 2019
My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ & 1/2
Eragon meets And I Darken in this thrilling new fantasy debut that follows a fallen princess as she ignites a rebellion to bring back the magical elemental crows that were taken from her people.
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.
*I received this ARC in the December FairyLoot box!*
I’ve read so many YA fantasy books over the years that I know pretty much all of the tropes and clichés that can be expected – good and bad. But I have to say that, whilst this book still had the obligatory palace ball (a YA fantasy couldn’t exist without one, and I’m actually okay with that), there was a uniqueness to the plot that really made the book the enjoyable read it was.
Surprisingly, the most unique thing about this book wasn’t the magical crows (that were kind of like smaller versions of dragons), but it was the diversity of the characters. The representation this book offers is wide – in terms of race, sexuality, and mental illness – but it was particularly the rep for the latter which surprised me.
The main character has depression, and I loved that The Storm Crow is a fantasy that actually addressed a mental illness and called it what it is. The author didn’t shy away from Thia’s struggles, and her journey of handling and accepting her mental illness interweaved so well with the wider plot line of saving the kingdom of Rhodaire. I don’t have depression myself, so I can’t comment on how exactly accurate it was, but I personally feel like the author did a good job of carefully and sensitively depicting certain aspects of it.
‘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.’
Unfortunately, I did have a few issues with this book. There has to be a delicate balance in fictional writing between showing a reader what a character is going through, and between telling a reader what is happening. All showing all the time would lead the story nowhere – but over tell and under show, and the emotional depth and the connections a reader can make with the characters and the world just kind of fades away.
I often found this book skimming over things that would’ve helped me connect to it more. I felt like I was told too much, and didn’t experience things with the main character, and that made it hard for me sometimes to understand why the characters were feeling the way we were told they were.
The Storm Crow starts with the kingdom of Rhodaire being invaded, and some important people in Thia’s life die in this scene. Due to these deaths being so early on in the book, it was hard when they were mentioned in any way to show Thia grieving them because as a reader, I knew nothing about these characters. If there were some flashback chapters involving them, giving some background to what they meant to Thia, I think it would be so effective in hooking readers emotionally.
The author’s writing style itself was enjoyable – it flowed well, and I found it very easy to read (and I’ve also tabbed out a number of lovely quotes that I came across!). It was just the execution wasn’t quite what I was hoping for – it needed to delve deeper into the world and the relationships between the characters.
‘I wanted to let the world swallow me up. There were days where I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t move, couldn’t think.’
Aside from feeling a bit frustrated about the lack of some details, this book was a good read (and it’s important to remember that this is an ARC, so it isn’t the final version). I cannot stress enough how amazing it is that the author spoke about depression in a fantasy book! The representation was brilliant, the plot behind it was intriguing, and there are magical dragon-like crows!
If you’re a fan of fantasy, I’d definitely keep a look out for when this one publishes later in the year.