The Crow is book three in Alison Croggon’s YA fantasy series The Books of Pellinor.
The first two books focused on Maerad, a Bard who had no idea of her skills until she was rescued from slavery. Subsequently, Maerad finds out that she’s the Chosen One and she has to find something called the Treesong to restore the Balance.
Book three focuses on Maerad’s long-lost brother Hem, with whom she is reunited in book two.
I have to admit, I was wary at first going in, because I did become invested in Maerad’s journey, and I also dig the way that Alison Croggan just kind of went “yep, it’s a Chosen one narrative. Look, there she is. She’s the Chosen One. Yep.” It works really well, and it’s cosy because you know exactly what you’re getting so you just sort of …. Dive in.
Hem has been taken to another city by another Bard, Saliman, in order to learn How to be a Proper Bard. Hem is good at some things, not so good at others, but he’s also very likable, and The Crow is kind of a found family story, and if there is something I have a HUGE weakness for, it’s a found family story.
Often in this sort of fantasy story, Hem might have turned bitter or been jealous of Maerad but he’s not. He misses her and wants nothing but to see her again and gosh it just has so much HEART.
On the flip side of that, of course, terrible terrible things happen and I think the descriptions of the child soldiers that serve The Nameless One (yes, the bad guy is called that. The tropes. They live, but they’re handled so. well.) are awful and heartbreaking, and the time that Hem spends in one of the child soldiers’ camps ...well.
Wary as I was, The Crow did not disappoint and I like that it rounded out the story of the Books of Pellinor so well. The next book in the series - The Singing - swings the focus back to Maerad as the good vs evil narrative reaches its climax.
Good stuff. Really, really, really good stuff.