The Merciful Crow

Ages: 12 and upPublisher: Macmillan USA Author: Margaret Owen


In the country of Sabor, there are five castes. The lowest of the low is the Crow caste.  The higher castes, divided into types of birds, have all been given special magical birthrights, such as the Cranes can always discern the truth.  The Crows have no birthright, but, if they have and hold a tooth from a higher caste member, they can temporarily participate in that person’s birthright. The homeless, wandering Crows have one gift, however, if it can be labeled such. They are immune to the plague that springs up in diverse places in Sabor.  Therefore, they are responsible for entering towns, gathering up the dying and dead and cremating the bodies  before the plague can spread. They are dubbed “merciful” for killing those who are suffering terribly from the incurable plague.

Fie is a member of one of these bands of outcast wanderers. She and a young man are being competitively groomed to become the chief  of their small band. Fie deeply loves their current chief, Pa, who has raised her. She doesn’t want to replace Pa but knows that few Crows live to be old.

This is a fantasy with a few, stable magical elements that effect the plot but don’t control it.  The author does not explain much; she reveals it gradually through Fie’s actions. With a wonderful protagonist and complex plotting, the denouement is surprising, exciting and tightly written. An absolutely stellar fantasy.


Kemie Nix ©2019 Parents’ Choice

Kemie Nix is Chairman of Children’s Literature for Children (CLC), a non-profit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to bringing children and books together. Mrs. Nix, a senior book editor for Parents’ Choice, has a remarkable sense of selecting books children love to read.

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