Hello everybody. Today I have for you a non-spoilery review of The Storm Crow, which is a YA Fantasy duology written by Kalyn Josephson. Book 1, The Storm Crow, was published in 2019 and its sequel, The Crow Rider, was recently released on the 7th of July.
Official Synopsis of The Storm Crow
In the tropical kingdom of Rhodaire, magical, elemental Crows are part of every aspect of life…until the Illucian empire invades, destroying everything. That terrible night has thrown Princess Anthia into a deep depression. Her sister Caliza is busy running the kingdom after their mother’s death, but all Thia can do is think of all she has lost. But when Caliza is forced to agree to a marriage between Thia and the crown prince of Illucia, Thia is finally spurred into action. And after stumbling upon a hidden Crow egg in the rubble of a rookery, she and her sister devise a dangerous plan to hatch the egg in secret and get back what was taken from them.
In The Crow Rider, the sequel to The Storm Crow, Thia must continue her fight to protect her kingdom and help bring back the magical crows that were taken from her people. Click here to see the full synopsis of the book.
My review of The Storm Crow duology
I really liked Thia, our main character. She is fierce and smart and with her battle training and her determined mind, she really shines through as one of the strongest elements of this book. What I also really liked about her is that although she suffers from severe depression as a result of the tragedy that struck her kingdom and family at the beginning of the book, she never gives up. She has her low points and her moments of weakness, but she eventually always manages to pull herself together to do what she must to protect the ones she cares about.
I also loved Kiva, her best friend and personal guard. She is such an awesome friend to Thia and is also a total badass. Kiva is also an openly queer character, which I really liked. Ericen, the prince of the enemy kingdom of Ilucia is also a very interesting character. Throughout the story, Ericen is faced with conflicting motives and torn loyalties, making his character a very complex one. I can’t say more without giving away spoilers, but I really liked his character arc in the series and I was very happy with how things evolved with him. Another character that I loved is Razel, Ericen’s mother and the queen of Illucia. Razel is the main antagonist of the story. She’s both formidable and terribly cruel and her character was one of my favorites in the series.
Finally, although I can’t say too much about him without giving away spoilers, I have to mention Resyries, Thia’s crow. He was such a cutie pie! I loved the bond that Thia shares with him and all their scenes were just perfection. I honestly could write an entire blog post just to gush about Res.
I loved the world building in this series. The setting is depicted in a rich and descriptive way that really brings this world to life. The Storm Crow duology features many kingdoms, each with diverse cultures and ethnicities. We also learn a lot about the fashion, food and climate of these different kingdoms. Rhodaire for instance has a very tropical feel to it, with lots of vines and greeneries surrounding the buildings, as well as a warm climate and mild winters. We also learn a lot about the mythologies of the various kingdoms, including the lore of how the crows came to be.
Since the series focuses a lot on the conflict between the different kingdoms, a lot of detail is given to political intrigue and military strategy in the books, which I really enjoyed. The series is also very action-packed and features a lot of awesome battle scenes.
We are introduced to the crows in the first book. These giant crows possess various forms of magic, such as storm magic for example. I found the concept of the magical crows to be really fascinating. The crows are an important element of Rhodairen military strategy and I liked that we are given a lot of information with regards to how the crows are trained and used in combat. Also, doesn’t Thia just look absolutely badass with her crow on the cover of The Crow Rider?
Representation of depression
As mentioned earlier, Thia suffers from depression. Since this book offers an ownvoices representation of depression, Thia’s struggle with it is depicted with a lot of honesty and thoughtfulness. It’s done very realistically, in a way that neither romanticizes it, nor shies away from showing the harsh realities of it. Although depression is experienced differently by different people, as someone who also suffers from depression, I thought it was handled very well in this series.
I loved the queer rep in this series! In this world, there is no taboo about being openly queer, which I thought was really cool. As such, the book features a lot of queer characters, as well as queer relationships. I also really appreciated that in addition to depicting several same-sex couples, both male and female, the book also features representation for many other different sexual orientations on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, such as bisexual, aromantic/asexual and non-binary.
My final thoughts
Overall, this series was a lot of fun. I really liked the world building and the characters, and the story was action-packed and full of magic and awesome battles. As the sequel and final installment in this series, The Crow Rider offers a very satisfying end to this duology. Fans of the first book will definitely not be disappointed.
Interview with Kalyn Josephson
QaS: The world of the Storm Crow duology features several kingdoms, all of which are richly described in terms of their climate, customs, culture, clothing style, food, etc. If you could take a trip to one of these kingdoms, which one would you want to visit the most?
KJ: Ooh, that’s super tough! I think I’d pick The Ambriels, because I really love the mythology I developed around them, and it’s such a lively, celebratory place. They always have a festival going for something, not to mention great food.
QaS: Warfare and military strategy play a prominent role in the series. What was your process for putting together all these military strategies and battle scenes?
KJ: I actually relied pretty heavily on my friend who is a WWII buff. He knows everything there is to know about past battles, and he and I sat down and basically played a game of chess with the military strategy in the book. I’d say “my side is doing this” and he’d say “here’s how I’d respond” and we went back and forth until I’d mapped out some of the big pieces.
QaS: Speaking of warfare, the crows are integral to Rhodairen warfare and as such, a lot of emphasis is put on their training process. How did you come up with the different training routines that you’ve created for the crows?
KJ: First, I determined what the main way each crow would use its power. For example, the core of a water crow’s ability is to move water. So then I broke that down to its simplest terms. The first step is to literally be able to make the water move. The next step is to be able to control it more finely. The third step is to be able to move and control larger amounts, and so on.
QaS: In Storm Crow, we are told that there are eight types of magical crows – storm, earth, battle, fire, water, wind, sun and shadow. If you could choose a crow, which one would you pick?
KJ: Definitely a storm crow! There’s no plot related reason that I chose to focus on a storm crow. It’s just the one I was most interested in.
QaS: Fierce and brave, our main character Thia is a wonderful leading lady. What I really love about her is that her strength of character is not limited only to her battle prowess, but also results from her struggle with depression. As someone who also suffers from depression, I thought that the portrayal of Thia’s depression was done very realistically and handled very well. What was your inspiration for Thia’s character?
KJ: Thank you so much! I really appreciate that. I actually funneled a lot of my own experience with depression through Thia, so I think in a lot of ways TSC was a medium for me processing my own experience. I also really wanted to focus on what happens when a person’s life gets turned upside down, and how they heal from that.
QaS: In the books, Thia loves cake and pastries (honestly, same!) and her favorite is orange cake. Have you ever tried to make your own orange cakes? And if yes, would you maybe like to share the recipe with us??
KJ: I have! Though I’ve yet to find a recipe that quite works. I’m still attempting it, and I plan to share the recipe in my newsletter once I get it nailed down.
QaS: At the end of the series, two characters set out on a journey to another kingdom. Without giving any spoilers, is there any chance that we might see more of their adventures in a future book?
KJ: I’d love to, but at the time there aren’t any plans for more books in this world. However, there’s a pre-order bonus scene from Kiva’s POV that follows that story, and I hope to get those included in future editions of the book.
About the author
Kalyn Josephson currently works as a Technical Writer in the tech industry, which leaves room for too many bad puns about technically being a writer. Though she grew up in San Luis Obispo, California, she graduated from Santa Clara University with a degree in Biology and a degree in English (Creative Writing). Currently, she lives in the Bay Area with four awesome friends (because it’s the Bay Area and she’d like to be able to retire one day) and two black cats (who are more like a tiny dragon and an ever tinier owl). The Storm Crow is her debut novel.
You can follow Kalyn online at the following: