Title: Murder of Crows (The Twenty-Sided Sorceress Book Two)
Author: Annie Bellet
Published: August 22, 2014
Note: I received a copy of this book from the author.
It’s tough to write a sequel. How to capture the right mix of things that were good in the first book, while being different enough to still be interesting? If a person loved the first one, there’s a high bar of expectation, so that sequel had better live up to it. After reading Justice Calling, I did have big expectations for Murder of Crows. Fortunately, I was not disappointed. Yay for consistent badass goodness.
Characterization and badassery
Jade Crow teams up with her Russian chunk of love Alek and heads down to the reservation to see why some nasty junk is happening to her people. Well, make that her former people, since they cast her out when she was a kid and shunned her Amish-style because she did not turn out to be what they’d hoped. Sometimes family just sucks.
Jade isn’t overcome with emotion or obligation to these people, but she agrees to help them figure out what’s going on in their tribe because innocents are being affected. I dig that about Jade. She’s strong enough to tell her former family to stuff it because of their cruelty toward her, but she’s moral enough to care about those who are blameless. That’s a significant duality, and one that I don’t see a lot. I think that’s the biggest area of badassery in this book, more than Jade’s innate abilities as a sorceress. She’s a complex mix of badassery and morality. It’s modern, it’s messy, and it’s good. Like S’mores, but with more magic and death.
I’m less sure about Alek’s character. For an intimidating dude who is charged with the powers of a justice (which should impress us, but we don’t know much about it so it’s hard to get too excited), he doesn’t shine with the authority of badassery. I appreciate that the plot moves quickly in this series, but these books are short enough that a few scenes could be added to develop Alek.
Plot and pacing
Like the first book, there’s no time wasted in this one. The pace is fast and the plot just keeps unspooling. There aren’t any of those scenes where suddenly the energy of the story drops and you start thinking about flipping on the tv. Or am I the only one who multitasks tv and reading/skimming when the pace of a book slows too much? Anyway, I have no urges to turn on some Big Bang Theory reruns while I read Annie Bellet books. She keeps it cookin’.
Prose and editing
This one could have used a little more polish in the copyediting and proofreading departments. Nonetheless, the language is strong and clear, so I’m not mad about it. Even though I’m kind of a grammar/spelling/punctuation psycho.
This book was a bit darker than the first one, and the tone was not as humorous as a result. No matter. Don’t care. Still good. It makes sense that Jade would feel a little less of her characteristic snark when dealing with deep-seated family issues. So again, Annie Bellet manages to be organic in a very subtle way that could so easily be missed because we tend to notice the things that don’t fit in. Meanwhile, our attention glides right across the things that blend seamlessly. Well. I saw what you did there, Annie Bellet. Nice.
“He always somehow knew the right thing to say, even if sometimes I wanted to punch him in the face for saying uncomfortable truths.”
This is a worthy successor to Justice Calling. I didn’t love this one quite as much as the first, but it’s still a great read. I’m still not buying the relationship between Alek and Jade, which is kind of a bummer because I want to enjoy them as a couple. I was also an oonce disappointed that I didn’t get more insight into Alek’s character, his role as a justice, and The Council of Nine. I can only be teased for so long before I want to poke someone in the eye.
Nonetheless, I appreciated the Native influence on this installment of the series, and I liked the mystery. I did get a little confused at the end, and maybe I was supposed to be unclear, as perhaps it is a story element that will pick up in the next book. (See spoiler for more detail.) I’m enthused about seeing what Jade Crow does next, and I’m kinda wanting to see her stick it to this Samir guy hardcore. Maybe eat his heart and slurp up all his powers. Nobody likes a stalker, and being an asshat of a sorcerer does not make him any cuter.