A low-caste girl takes on a high-risk quest in this series opener.
Only the Crows can dispatch and dispose of Sinner’s Plague victims, but they are shunned, abused, and murdered by Sabor’s other castes. A witch with “bone” (tooth) magic, 16-year-old Fie will one day succeed her Pa as chief of a band of itinerant Crows. But that day comes too soon when a rare retrieval from the royal palace delivers two corpses…who ain’t dead yet. Often furious Fie instantly dislikes Phoenix Prince Jasimir and his Hawk bodyguard, Tavin, but soon finds herself head of the trio as they outrun and outwit ambitious Queen Rhusana and her night-riding Oleander Gentry—white-clad and masked (recalling the KKK)—relentless skinwitch trackers, and monstrous ghasts. Facing death and deprivation, Fie’s companions also encounter Sabor’s insidious violence toward Crows. Debut author Owen offers well-balanced worldbuilding and a propulsive plot and excels at tender, intimate moments and complicated, realistic romantic and familial relationships. Lacking an overt historical or geographic parallel, the tale instead features a cast spectacularly diverse in class, gender, sexual orientation, and race—Fie’s skin is “terra-cotta,” Jas’ and Tavin’s are “dark gold,” while a villainous northerner is described as “pork-pink.”
Rich, harrowing, and unafraid to tackle discrimination—perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Tomi Adeyemi. (caste legend) (Fantasy. 12-18)