The Storm Crow by Kalyn Josephson introduced giant, elemental, warrior crows to the YA lit world and it was awesome. This year, The Crow Rider takes it further and makes it even better. Now, all I want is a giant, magical bird to ride!
*The Crow Rider is book two in a duology so there may be some spoilers for book one below. Read my review of The Storm Crow instead.*
In order to defeat Queen Razel and Illucia, Thia must convince the neighboring kingdoms to join forces once and for all. To do so, she needs her storm crow, Res, to show off his abilities. But Res’s magic is unstable and powerful. When he loses control and injures Thia, their bond shifts. Ericen, the heir to Illucia, shows up willing to fight for the cause, but Thia begins to wonder who she can trust to help her succeed with her rebellion.
I would be lying if I said the crows weren’t my favorite part of this story and the biggest reason I wanted to read The Crow Rider. Because the idea of giant crows with magical abilities is freaking awesome. And I love that Res, despite being a bird that cannot speak, is his own character. He has his own personality, feelings, and worries separate from Thia, which is so cool.
As for Thia, I still admire her. She’s strong in her own way and stubborn and determined. She’s willing to go to great lengths to help not just her own kingdom but all the kingdoms, even the one currently hunting her down. But I love how much emotion she shows as well. She’s a great YA protagonist because while she is strong and stands up for herself and others, she isn’t perfect. She faces a lot of things beyond her control and she becomes stronger because of it.
Like with book one, Kalyn does a fantastic job showing Thia’s mental illness and keeping it a constant battle. It does not get resolved. It does not go away. It’s something Thia has to fight day after day, but the best part is that she does. She stands up and she faces it and she doesn’t let it hold her back from doing what she needs to help those around her.
And then there’s Ericen. Oh buddy. I liked him in book one and I knew he had so much potential for a great character arc, and Kalyn did not disappoint. I love how much he grows and changes from the irritatingly smug prince in book one into someone who chooses to fight for his kingdom, even if that means standing up to his mother.
I also like the beginnings of a romance between him and Thia. I was never on board with Thia’s relationship with Caylus. It felt too forced and random, but her and Ericen make sense to me. It did feel a bit rushed because it seems like the author changed her mind about love interests between writing the two books.
There are so many new characters and lots of positive female empowerment that was awesome too. I love that there are a lot of positive female relationships in this book, and even those that start off a little rocky, smooth out once they respect each other.
The world-building is just as interesting and vast as the first book, and I love the beautiful map that’s included. Some aspects of the story felt a bit rushed and partway through reading, I thought this series might have been turned into a trilogy because I didn’t think there were enough pages left for everything to wrap up. But Kalyn does a good job tying everything together for a solid resolution.
This is a good YA fantasy duology, especially for a debut. Lots of characters to root for. Lots of magic and excitement. Lots of giant crows. I really want to ride one, thank you very much. The Crow Rider is a great conclusion to the duology, and I look forward to what Kalyn Josephson writes in the future!