Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
Series: The Others #2
Published by ROC on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, PNR, Urban Fantasy
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Return to New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop’s "phenomenal" (Urban Fantasy Investigations) 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.
*Trigger Warning* This book contains discussions about cutting/self-harm as well as mentions of (and some light descriptions of) rape.
*Note – This review will have some spoilers for Written in Red. I suggest you read Written in Red before reading this review.
“Why would someone target the Crows?”
Simon cocked his head, clearly surprised by the question. “What?”
“Out of all the different kinds of terra indigene, why go after the Crows? In Jerzy, the attack took place on a night when the Crowgard were using the house the Others owned in the village. In Walnut Grove, food was used to lure the birds into position to be attacked by the dogs – and the main target was the Crows. And now here, a baited street.” Monty leaned forward. “So I’m asking you: What is it about the Crowgard that would make someone feel the need to get them out of the way?”
He had the Wolf’s attention. The terra indigene must know that the Crows died each time there was an attack, but he’d wondered if the more formidable kinds of earth natives had considered that the Crows were the primary target.
“They’re curious,” Simon finally said. “They pay attention to everything and everyone in their territory. They remember faces that are familiar and know when a stranger shows up. they warn the rest of us when something doesn’t look right or someone acts oddly. And the communicate with regular crows.”
. . .
“But the crows are everywhere, and the Crowgard find out about other parts of the city from them.” Simon stopped.
Yes, Monty thought. You’ve just told both of us why someone wants them dead. “They see too much,” he said quietly. “They pick through the trash, looking for the things that, to them, are little treasures. Which means they might find things the people buying, or selling, drugs like gone over wold don’t want anyone to find.”
“They would notice a pattern of activity,” Simon said.
He nodded. “But if you murder enough Crows, they’ll stop poking through the trash – and secrets will remain secrets.”
— pg 77-78
Murder of Crows is a pretty great sequel to Written in Red. I would say that Murder of Crows felt a little more…easy? than Written in Red did for me. Which is a little strange considering that Murder of Crows has a lot more action than Written in Red.
In Murder of Crows attacks against the terra indigene by humans have started – strange attacks – “a sickness” – that almost always starts with the murder of a large group of the Crowgard. Strange drugs have started to appear that cause and escalate the attacks: “gone over wolf” and “feel good.” “Gone over wolf” causes extreme aggression – to the point that humans toss away self-preservation and attack the terra indigene. “Feel good” causes a euphoria so strong that the user only wants to sit in a stupor: unmoving, uncaring and not eating. The attacks are almost always involving both drugs: the gone over wolf utilized by the [human] attackers and the terra indigene unknowingly drugged by the feel good.
The attacks have far reaching consequences: the terra indigene realize they have an enemy to kill and the humans also harm other humans – the murder of one group of Crows caused the eviction of an entire town.
There are also rumors of war across the ocean – human politicians have started “Humans First and Last” campaigns. This (to me) shows that the humans really have no clue what’s out there and that they believe that if they were only a little stronger (or the terra indigene a little weaker) they could take over the entire planet.
A “toss away” comment made in Written in Red tells the real story: That the terra indigene visible in the Courtyards are only the tip of the iceberg. The Wolves and the Sanguninati and the Crows, etc are the buffer between the humans and the other terra indigene. And the humans don’t really want to meet what’s behind that buffer. Winter alone would have scared the snot out of me – she scares all of the terra indigine – and if she and her family of elementals decide to rage, there is no force on Namid that can stop them. Imagine pissing Air off *shudder* or Fire *double shudder*.
Humans understood so little. “It doesn’t matter now if he evades the Crows,” he told Lorenzo. “Until he stops breathing, he can’t hide from Air.”
I’m starting to see that the thread of a possible war is the overarching plot of this entire series. There was a sprinkling of rumors in Written in Red but there are full blown discussions of it in Murder of Crows. I’m assuming that Vision in Silver, Marked in Flesh (release March 2016) and book five [unnamed WIP] will start to hone in on this potential war.
Strangely, I found Murder of Crows to be…just a bit sweeter than Written in Red. I can’t quite say why. The world is still just as dark but in Murder of Crows Ms Bishop did not hold back. There are explicit details on the treatment of the cassandra sangues including kidnappings, rape and torture. It’s quite disturbing the things that people were (are?) willing to each other – if that other person could be considered a source of income (I should not be surprised by this. Look at slavery.).
“That’s enough from this one. Patch her up.”
“Why are we collecting the nose blood? It’s got snot in it.”
Sharp, hard laugh. “Who cares? The ones who are going to buy it and swallow a slug of it won’t know that. He wants everything from this one. She’s the most potent producer we’ve got. Guess being crazy makes the product even better.”
She listened to them talk about her, but the words didn’t matter any more than the few pumps it took for them to ejaculate inside her. Sometimes they slapped her, taunted her, pushed her into anger. Other times, they used fists to draw blood from the injuries as well as the cuts. They were cutting her too close to previous scars or cutting across old scars. Either way, whatever she screamed had more meaning to anyone.
She didn’t fight them when they sealed up the cuts and dealt with the bleeding nose. She was passive now, drained of strength and prophecy.
“See you soon, cs747,” one of the Walking Names said, giving her an evil leer. “You’re still worth a bit of cash, so don’t die on us.”
I’m not the one who’s going to die, she thought as she heard the door of her cell close, heard the key turn in the lock. I’ve seen…so many things. A white coat who is more than a Walking Name, a man with salt-and-pepper hair. A dark-skinned man riding in a police car. And the Wolf. I’ve sen Meg’s Wolf.
So many things were going to happen because of Meg and her Wolf.
“I’m not cs747,” she whispered defiantly as she shifted on her cot in order to lean back against the wall. “My name is Jean.”
There are so many instances in Murder of Crows that show the extreme abuse the cassandra sangues go through – I pulled many, many quotes but decided not to use 99% of them. O_o While the abuse of the girls was horrifying, I enjoyed (again) how different The Others series is than most UF/Shifter books. The humans are the bad guys in this series – the humans start all the fights and the humans abuse each other much, much more than the terra indigine ever could. Of course, [most of] the humans would never see it that way.
Another plot point being slowly developed is the romance between Simon and Meg. There has been no sexual contact between the two of them but Simon has begun to get possessive of Meg. And Meg has started to see Simon as more than just a friend. The romance between them is very slow – Meg has no real life experience and Simon has a large load to carry as the leader of the Courtyard. Both of them mostly crave the simple pleasures of having a real friend that they can talk to and count on. Which is important for both of them.
I really enjoyed this addition to The Others series. I quite enjoyed myself. I can’t say I liked it as much as book one but I really enjoyed it! Opinions may differ – my good friend really disliked book one but really enjoyed book two. Either way, both Written in Red and Murder of Crows are excellent and entertaining reads.