Review: Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop

Review: Murder of Crows by Anne BishopMurder of Crows by Anne Bishop
Narrator: Alexandra Harris
Length: 14 hrs, 13 mins
Series: The Others #2
Published by Penguin Audio on March 4, 2014
Genres: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, Romance
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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four-half-stars

Return to New York Times best-selling author Anne Bishop’s world of the Others - where supernatural entities and humans struggle to co-exist, and one woman has begun to change all the rules.…

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.

When I added Meg and Simon to my SoulTPs list, I was actually a little surprised. I mean, I knew I shipped them like burning, but they’re not my typical sort of ship exactly. Still, it felt right. Then, right after, I got the email with the audiobook of the fourth book and flailed around in excitement. I decided to reread the first three books, not because I had to (which I often do for series books) but because I WANTED to revisit my preciouses. The reread sent me directly to the SCARY PLACE of obsession and occasionally starting to cry over how much I love the characters and groaning at how much I ship the ship.

Ultimate proof that I’ve always been in the scary place, without realizing it, came when I reread my Murder of Crows review, which is, frankly, hilarious and why I’m writing a new full review that will take the official spot in my review archive. My whole original review of this book is essentially a temper tantrum. I GAVE IT 3.5 STARS, even though I was in love with the characters and the ship and cared a fuckton, which by my policy gets a 4.5 at least unless it’s monstrously bad, which SPOILER this book is NOT. Why did I rate so low that first time? I was in the scary place, and I could not handle the way Bishop taunts the reader with the ship. I wanted my goddamn ship to sail immediately because I was ready so obviously the characters ought to be to. Um, no, past Christina, you need to calm yo tits.

So yeah, this reviewer is sometimes not so logical once feelings are involved, which actually is the specific nature of feelings. But anyway. Allow me to state for my official record that Murder of Crows is most excellent, not quite as good as Written in Red, but not remotely suffering from second book syndrome. The main criticism I have for Murder of Crows, and it’s almost not criticism, is that the pace is slower than that of Written in Red. It’s a bit more about the romance, and the central conflict of this novel, while seriously important to the overarching plot, isn’t as fast-paced and intense as that of the first book.

One thing I’ve loved about deciding to reread is that I can appreciate the plotting much more thoroughly than I did following along book by book, one year apart. Bishop clearly had this shit planned when she wrote book one. So much is layered into that book. Rereading, I could see the seeds for books one and two. The plotting is excellent, and I’m so glad I can see it from that angle.

In Murder of Crows, the final conflict does feel a bit anticlimactic, but it’s also fitting and telling. One of the reasons it’s less intense than the first book is because Meg doesn’t take part in the big showdown bit. Another reason is that this book seriously underlines how powerful The Others are and how thorough their dominion over humankind is. I continue to love that, despite the ship and the way The Others have taken to Meg, they remain vicious predators.

I want to talk about prophecy in the series a bit too. Obviously it’s a HUGE factor in the series, and prophecies in books can be the fucking worst. However, I really love the way it’s used here. Cassandra sangue can see bits of the future, but a) their prophecies come out as a step above gibberish and have to be interpreted to make sense and b) the futures they see can be averted, so it’s not like the prophecies reliably steer the plot to a pre-defined place and take away all the tension and excitement. It’s also really cool how Meg’s prophecies depend on what she’s seen and heard; if she saw a zebra in a prophecy for example, she’d probably say something about a stripey horse. In one she says “donkey but not a donkey,” because clearly she doesn’t know exactly what she’s seen and that’s the best she can do. The prophecy comes from somewhere and it’s accurate, but it’s put through her lens on the world and is limited by what she has knowledge of.

Okay, so yeah let’s talk about this ship that sent me to the SCARY PLACE. Anne Bishop does taunt the hell out of you with this ship, and there’s no denying it. For the whole of this book, it is SO close but also so damn far away, so basically prepare for a shipping frenzy if you’re into Meg and Simon. Where I resented that emotionally last time, I really can appreciate it this time. Honestly, I think I even appreciated it last time but I was too much of a grumpy pony to let logic rule the day the first time through.

Both Meg and Simon have excellent reasons to not want to start a relationship; they are not ready yet. Meg, though she’s in her mid-twenties, is, in a lot of ways, a child. She hasn’t experienced much of the world and is learning so much stuff about the world and herself everyday. She’s not ready to add on a sexual relationship, even though that drive is there. Simon’s definitely in love with her, though he’s not quite admitted that to himself yet, because this is not the relationship he ever would have imagined for himself. He wants to love a wolf, and he’s already terrified that his attachment to Meg is making him too human. These are big concerns for them both, and it makes sense that they shy away anytime a romantic mood hits.

When I say this ship isn’t one that would typically send me into the land of SHIP SHIP SHIP SOULTP, it’s because this romance does fit the typical paranormal tropes in a lot of ways. It’s hate to love sort of, but it transitions really quickly from that to an intense friendship. I’m not usually a huge friendship to love shipper, though here the two are really indistinguishable. Simon is literally an alpha male, a trope I loathe. He’s jealous and threatens violence constantly, which really shouldn’t be my thing. However, much as Simon may threaten to hurt Meg when he gets angry, a) that’s part of his wolfishness, which I think Bishop does well and b) Simon’s all growl, no bite, when it comes to Meg. The jealousy is actually the cutest thing in this book, mostly because it doesn’t really affect how he treats Meg. He doesn’t blame her for those emotions, and he actually recognizes his own ridiculousness even as he can’t control it. My precious grumpy wolf.

While Murder of Crows moves at a slower pace and doesn’t have that intense finish, it’s a beautiful book that continues to develop the intricate plot and the flawless characters. I am SO impressed with how calm I’ve remained writing this. So allow me this: READ IT AND SHIP WITH ME. IT’S NICE IN THE SCARY PLACE. WE HAVE WOLF COOKIES.

Favorite Quote:

“Are there weapons in a bookstore?”

“It’s a store full of books, which are objects that can be thrown as well as read,” Monty replied blandly.

The Crow cocked his head. “I had no idea you humans lived with so much danger.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif wolf and human playing

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