The Merciful Crow

Holt. (Merciful Crow: Bk. 1). Jul. 2019. 384p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250191922.
Gr 9 Up–In a fantasy kingdom with strict castes, the bottom-rung Crows are relentlessly persecuted. The only people immune to the plague capable of wiping entire towns off the map, Fie’s small band of Crows are tasked with visiting stricken households, disposing of the dead victims, and showing mercy to those near their end. When the Crown Prince and his bodyguard fake their own deaths by plague, Fie extracts a promise of greater equality for their caste from the prince in exchange for restoring him to power. Although she’s been preparing to lead her own band one day, she has to assume leadership after a sudden betrayal leaves her alone with the prince, his bodyguard, and the promise they’ve made to one another. Debut author Owen’s rich world-building is tight and logical, integrating various magical gifts, memorable characters, and timely and relevant themes of prejudice, persecution, and social justice. One especially nice touch is the baseline assumption that queer characters are so normal in this world as to be a nonissue—one background character, for example, uses they/them pronouns with no fanfare or explanation. Many readers wouldn’t notice this detail, but queer readers and their allies likely will appreciate it.
VERDICT An excellent next read for fans of Leigh Bardugo, Kristin Cashore, and Moira Young

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing