Murder of Crows by Anne Bishop
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“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.”
I have to admit that I absolutely adore this series. There’s something about it that just hits the spot with me, kind of like a warm hot chocolate on a cold day. I’ve had a hard time pinning down what I find so appealing about it, but now that I’m reading the first book aloud to my husband, I’ve been able to figure some of it out.
First, there’s the worldbuilding. Bishop has obviously put a lot of thought into how she has structured this version of North America and how the various races interact with each other. Everything seems to constantly balance on a fine line between a workable compromise and utter disaster. The Others hold much of the power, controlling things like raw materials and access to water. Humans, on the other hand, are more technologically advanced, and there are hints that such advancements may tip the balance and cause problems that humanity may not be equipped to deal with.
The plot centers around this tension, as humans have discovered a way to drug Others so that they’re vulnerable to attack. All of the escalating violence reminds me of conflicts over such issues as race and religion in real life—eventually, both sides end up ignoring the message from the other side in favor of hammering their own views home no matter the cost. In this case, though, the scales are significantly more lopsided. After all, you may disagree with your neighbor, but he’s not likely to see you as clever meat.
What I like most about this book are the characters, and especially the little details of how they interact with each other. Even though the Others are ultimately dangerous predators, it’s hard not to be charmed at the image of Simon in his Wolf form putting his head in Meg’s lap to snooze while she watches television. The Crows may be canny information gatherers, but their love of all things shiny gives them a childlike quality. And who can help but smile at an elderly vampire who loves watching old human films?
The story revolves, of course, around blood prophet Meg. Bishop has done an excellent job at giving her a lot of power without making her all-powerful. There are restrictions on what she can see when she has a prophecy, and while what she sees always comes true, it’s often best understood in hindsight. Mostly, Meg is just a human whose kindness and goodwill becomes the bridge between Others and humanity, and I have to admit that it’s refreshing to see a character who is just a nice person.
I can’t wait to see what Bishop does with this world next, but I hope she continues to expand outward and give us a look at what the world is like in more of North America, and even over in Europe (or the equivalents thereof). I devoured Murder of Crows the way a Wolf devours cookies—quickly and eagerly, and wishing for more when it was done.
Also by this author: The Pillars of the World, Written in Red