Murder of Crows
Penguin / March 4, 2014 / $26.95 print, $10.99 digital
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.
As an urban fantasy novel, the romance in Anne Bishop's Written in Red took a backseat to the fast-paced action and snippets of Courtyard life that involved Meg settling into life outside the Controller’s evil clutches. Murder of Crows sees Meg coming more into her own and trying to define the different relationships around her. As a heroine, Meg is an extremely young 24, having no prior experience with life outside of the cassandra sangue prison. With Simon’s Other nature, the Wolf and skinship are an intimate part of who he is, yet the pair put clear parameters around what can and cannot develop between a human and an Other, especially given Meg’s limited life experience.
The introduction of outside characters brings the nature of Meg and Simon’s “friendship” into question, especially the existence of another community, the Intuits whose past is deeply tied with that of the Cassandra sangue and the opinion of the ever reliable Montgomery Ward. From a reader’s perspective, the novel focuses more on the existing conflict between humans and the Others, particularly with the drugs “feel good” and “gone over wolf.” Both drugs are developed from the blood of the Cassandra sangue and as humans across Thaisia fight against the control the others have on the land, there isn’t a lot of time for Meg and Simon to explore a relationship. Most of the observations on the relationship between the hero and heroine are seen from outside parties rather than the main protagonists.
Going back into the world of the Others is like returning home and meeting up with a number of old friends. All of the usual suspects are present including Henry, Tess and the adorable Sam, yet Murder of Crows portrays the Others in a fiercer light than the previous novel. Whereas Written in Red featured an isolated conflict with the antagonists trying to recapture Meg, Murder of Crows focuses on social upheaval and the question of who owns the land. Urban fantasy fans will not be disappointed and those who might miss the character driven slice of life moments from the first novel will still get a taste of life in Lakeside Courtyard. Many things are brought into question in this novel, but the nature of Simon and Meg’s relationship is not set in stone. Despite what other characters might observe, the romance is secondary to everything surrounding Lakeside Courtyard. In addition, the line between human and Other becomes more pronounced rather than blurred.
I was concerned that the length of the novel, combined with the urban fantasy tone, would be off-putting for a reader of primarily romance, but despite its slow pace, the romance is there, just one layer of the complex world Bishop has created.
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Sahara Hoshi reviews for Wicked Lil Pixie and is a lifelong reader of romance. Favorite genres include new adult, paranormal romance, contemporary romance and erotica.