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Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

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Murder of Crows
Author: Anne Bishop 
Reviewer: B.
Rating: A

What I’m Talking About:

Meg Corbyn was a complete mystery to the Others when she first arrived at Lakeside Courtyard. Two months later, the resident terra indigene, or Earth Natives, have accepted that this aspect of their relationship with her isn’t likely to ever change. Although, as a Cassandra Sangue, or blood prophet, Meg has proven herself to the terra indigene time and again, it is her pure and sweet nature that leads them to accept her as one of their own. But, with angry humans trying to overthrow the Others, and the man who considers Meg his personal property more intent on getting her back than ever, it will take everyone, terra indigene and trusted humans alike, to strike at the true source of all the trouble before the threat of war leads to a slaughter.

Simon Wolfgard is leader of the most progressive terra indigene courtyard in all of Thaisia. Though distrustful of humans, in general, he’s created a place where humans and Others can interact peacefully, work together, and typically get along—to a point. But the arrival of the short, strange woman with stinky, orange hair one winter’s night turned everything he thought he knew about the “clever meat” inside out, changing almost everyone in the courtyard to varying degrees in the process. Him, most especially. Now, with the threat to both Meg and terra indigene alike growing by the day, Simon will have to rely on allies both new and old in order to give the fragile trust they’ve all worked so hard to build a chance to survive.

In preparation for this review, I reread most of the first book in the series, Written in Red, and I have to say that I enjoyed it even more the second time around. Meg Corbyn is a delight to read in both novels, as are Simon and many of the other characters, her innocence and fortitude combining to endear her to the Others as much as she confuses them. In Murder of Crows, Meg continues to work for and aid the terra indigene who have taken her in, and their understanding and appreciation of her self-sacrifice is the catalyst for many other changes within the community as a whole. Meg is an anomaly in so many ways that none of the Others really know what to do with her, leading to several laugh-out-loud moments that broke the building tension of the story in all the right places. She is precious, and baffling, and frustrating (especially for Simon), but once she becomes part of the courtyard “family,” they’ll kill to protect her. As both the source of so much of the conflict in the narrative, as well as its comic relief, I liked her tremendously. After a particularly amusing interaction involving a screeching Meg, a wolf pup named “Skippy,” and a mouse, one of the newly introduced terra indigene offers up this succinctly appropriate observation:

“’So,’ Alan said after a long pause. ‘That’s Namid’s terrible creation?’

‘Yeah. That’s Meg.’”

All of the other characters are likewise fascinating in their own right, each imbued by the author with distinct traits and vivid personalities that make every one of them a necessary part of the overall story. Simon is just as much fun to read as Meg, the changes he’s undergoing being by turns both funny and heartbreaking. The growing affection between the two of them gives Murder of Crows just the right touch of tenderness in a story that might otherwise become more strategic than meaningful.

While the overall tone of Murder of Crows is one of caution and consequence, there’s plenty of humor throughout the story as well. With so much danger, uncertainty, and fear prevalent in each chapter, any attempt at a poorly timed joke or otherwise forced levity could easily have come across as hokey and insincere. Yet, these scenes were not only perfectly delivered, but a very welcome respite, and Ms. Bishop’s talent for balancing all the various components of her writing shines particularly brightly as a result.

While Urban Fantasy novels aren’t always my first preference when choosing reading material for myself, I’ve been very fortunate to have read quite a few highly enjoyable stories in the genre that have drawn me in and kept me hooked from the very beginning. The novels of The Others fall soundly within that group. As is true of Written in Red, Murder of Crows is filled with plenty of action and mystery, but the high level of suspense running throughout the novel is tempered by frequent bouts of humor and just enough sweetness to appeal to my inner romantic as well. Although it is set in a parallel universe, parts of this story serve as a thoughtful perspective about our own place in the world, as well as a reminder that we would be wise to tender that which we have, including one another, dearly indeed. In the end, I enjoyed Murder of Crows a great deal, and recommend both it and Written in Red very highly.

Rating: A  Loved It

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About the Book:

After winning the trust of the terra indigene residing in the Lakeside Courtyard, Meg Corbyn has had trouble figuring out what it means to live among them. As a human, Meg should be barely tolerated prey, but her abilities as a cassandra sangue make her something more.

The appearance of two addictive drugs has sparked violence between the humans and the Others, resulting in the murder of both species in nearby cities. So when Meg has a dream about blood and black feathers in the snow, Simon Wolfgard—Lakeside’s shape-shifting leader—wonders if their blood prophet dreamed of a past attack or a future threat.

As the urge to speak prophecies strikes Meg more frequently, trouble finds its way inside the Courtyard. Now, the Others and the handful of humans residing there must work together to stop the man bent on reclaiming their blood prophet—and stop the danger that threatens to destroy them all.

Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: ROC
Series: The Others #2
ISBN: #978-0451465269
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Format(s): Hardcover (368 pages), e-book, audiobook
Book Source: Publisher

Purchase Info:
Murder of Crows (The Others #2)

Reviews in the Series:
Written in Red by Anne Bishop (The Others #1)

  • UnaReads

    I loved Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels series and have been meaning to look into this new one. Based on your reviews B, I think I’m going to pick it up. This sounds so fascinating! Thank you for the great reviews!

    • B.

      Thank, Una! It really is a great series so far. I haven’t read the Black Jewels series, so I’ve added that one to my list, too. Thanks again! Enjoy!!

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