By Cynthia Bujnicki
In Rhodaire, magical crows are a part of everyday life. Until the Illucian’s invade and destroy everything. Princess Anthia now has nothing. Except to accept marriage with the enemy that destroyed her home and everything she loved. However, when a midnight excursion reveals one last crow egg, Anthia has found a new purpose for living. With it, she hatches a plan to save herself and her kingdom from falling even deeper into the clutches of the enemy. However, the queen of Illucia is ever watchful and dangerous.
Incredibly fast-paced, The Storm Crow follows Princess Anthia, who is unlike most princesses. The story has an unforgettable opening that focuses on Anthia flying a giant crow, a crow of magic. It is a grand opening that sets up this world of magic while also breathing such vitality into Anthia. She is a princess, but she does not strike readers that way because she is not cast into the typical princess mold. Anthia has spunk; she has an attitude and down to earth air about her that makes her a princess of the people, allowing readers to gravitate towards her. She has a ferocity towards her as well that begins as an ember before flourishing alongside her mental and emotional journey through the story.
What is also compelling about the character and the story is how Josephson addresses mental illness. Anthia lost everything in a single night, leading to bouts of depression. She is not just sad; she is broken; the Illucian Empire took everything she cherished in one swell swoop. While it is good to see the story address this, there are times when it comes off as superficial. The emotional landscape surrounding Anthia does present depression to the reader well enough. However, the way other characters react and deal with Anthia make the emotional range compact and takes away some of the depth. There is this barrier between Anthia and the other characters that stop the scenes from being impactful, mainly because the other characters lack the emotional range necessary to compliment Anthia’s pain. Josephson could have made those scenes more impactful and brought out stronger insight into mental illness. Nevertheless, when the reader is left alone with Anthia, they can feel what she feels without resistance, making an impact on the reader.
As for the story itself, it follows a very steady pace. It moves in a way to build the story up. The pacing, while fast, is thoughtful. The rising tension between the characters, the way their dynamics shift and encourage the reader to be invested in the characters. It has the imagination to it and a breath of unique magic. There is also powerful symbolism when it comes to the characters and the storytelling. Anthia is from a tropical kingdom, and her depiction makes her a person of color while her neighbors, those that conquered her land are from the icy lands of the north. It is reminiscent of the European invasion of Africa and offers readers greater depth and a complex view of the characters and their origins. This deeper subtext allows the reader to grasp the complexities of the story while also opening their eyes to the past.
The Storm Crow offers readers a fresh new take on magic and warring kingdoms as it follows a fierce protagonist dealing with the loss of everything she ever knew. (★★★★☆)