Murder of Crows: Worse than the first book

Murder of Crows by Anne BishopMurder of Crows by Anne Bishop

Meg Corbyn, a blood prophet, has finally found a place to belong — among the ferocious shapeshifters called the Others. They love and protect Meg from the man who still hunts her. Meg’s prophetic abilities seem to be getting stronger and she is able to foresee violent interactions between the humans and the Others. Meanwhile Monty, a cop, is trying to defuse tensions before war breaks out.

I didn’t much like Written in Red, the first book in Anne Bishop’s THE OTHERS series. As I explained in my review, Meg is one of the dullest people I’ve ever read about. The only thing that makes her interesting is her addiction to cutting herself, but this is so unpleasant that, rather than making me feel sympathetic for Meg, I just feel revolted. I also didn’t believe in Bishop’s world.

However, I picked up the sequel, Murder of Crows, anyway. That’s because there was finally some action at the end of Written in Red, I did care about Monty, and — here’s the clincher — the publisher of the audiobooks sent me a review copy.

Unfortunately, I liked Murder of Crows even less than Written in Red. Meg continues to be a pathetic heroine who is guarded, babied and pampered by the Others. (She is the only human they don’t think of as prey because of her “sweet blood”). I am tired of her weakness and her naiveté. (Just look at the covers for the two books. Doesn’t she look pathetic?) I’m tired of following Meg around while she delivers mail, eats dinner, does her other repetitive mundane tasks, and cuts herself.

While Meg hasn’t changed at all, Simon has become a completely different character. In Written in Red he was portrayed as an uber alpha male who everyone feared and obeyed. He was bossy and controlling. Now he’s still snarling and growling, but in some ways he’s become just as silly and naïve as Meg has. Now he’s a puppy instead of a wolf. He refers to Meg as his “squeaky toy.”

For example, for protection and comfort Meg has been sleeping with Simon in his cuddly wolf form. At the beginning of Murder of Crows, Meg has woken up next to Simon’s human form (he wanted to be able to talk to her, which he can’t in wolf form). She freaks out because he’s a naked man, but she’s so confused about why sleeping with Simon as a man is different from sleeping with him as a wolf. Likewise Simon, a man who, we learned in the first book, has had sex with adventurous human women, is confused about why Meg thinks sleeping with him as a naked man instead of a furry wolf makes a difference. He complains to many of the other characters about this, asking for their opinions. Then when Meg starts menstruating, he can smell her blood and he gets even more confused, like he’s never been around human women before (he has female human employees). Then he goes around telling everyone that Meg’s in season. Much of the drama (so much drama!) comes from this sort of silliness. Seriously, are they both so naïve? I found their relationship icky and weird. It was like a woman having an affair with her puppy. Not sexy at all.

I continue to have problems believing in Bishop’s world and the relationship between humans and others. Just like Meg and Simon, both the humans and the Others seem impractical and immature in how they deal with each other. There seems to be nobody rational in charge — nobody who makes smart executive decisions about how their own group will respond to the other. Nobody who will try to negotiate peace between the Others (who view humans as “meat”) and the humans who lash out in frustration. It’s chaos and anarchy and it doesn’t work for either group. It’s hard to sympathize or root for anyone. The only character I can respect is Monty the policeman who’s kind of stuck in the middle.

I’m sorry to say that there was nothing I liked about Murder of Crows, but again I want to mention that other readers LOVE it (see rating at Amazon and Goodreads). So, don’t let me stop you from giving it a try. The audio version is fine. The dumb-sounding voice that Alexandra Harris uses for Meg, and the angsty growling voice she uses for Simon, are slightly annoying but probably just what is intended by the author. Harris’ tempo and prosody are not as natural as they could be, but it’s not too distracting. I noticed that she pronounces BOW (an acronym for Box on Wheels) as “bow” instead of “b. o. w.“ this time. That’s fine, but the change threw me out of the story for a few seconds every time the word was used.

I’m not going to read any more in this series. I feel like I wasted my time.


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KAT HOOPER is a professor at the University of North Florida where she teaches neuroscience, psychology, and research methods courses. She occasionally gets paid to review scientific textbooks, but reviewing speculative fiction is much more fun. Kat lives with her husband and their children in Jacksonville Florida.

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15 comments

  1. Oh, dear! We have these in the bookstore and I looked at them the other day after your first review. I think I won’t be recommending them.

    • And yet, they’re wildly popular! ????

      • I never quite understood how popular this book was, when it first came out. It’s part of why I never reviewed it–all the reviewers I respected thought it was the Second Coming, and I thought it was too dull to finish, and I figured it was my perceptions that were off.

        • Gee, Kelly…. you could have saved me a lot of time if you’d mentioned that back then. :|

          • I know! I just felt so…out of it when all the gushing reviews came in. And I’ve liked her other books before too, so i figured it was just my mood.

  2. I tried to read the first book and could not get into it. I was Way. Skeeved. by the way she substituted Others for Native Americans, and the story just dragged (it felt like actually working in an office, which I don’t need to relive in my pleasure reading!).

    • Well, I was a bit skeeved out by the Native Americans, too, but then I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and assume that just because there were some native Americans in her story (the Others) didn’t mean she meant them to represent our actual Native Americans. I am not sure if she meant that or not.

  3. Kelly… oh, yeah, “Let me read an escapist novel where the events are as mind-numbingly dull as real life! That’ll be fun!” Yeesh.

    • Kelly and Marion, I can guarantee that your jobs are not as dull as Meg’s. She’s a mailroom clerk. (Not a “liaison” as her title states.)

  4. April /

    I wasn’t interested in this series when it first came to my attention but it does keep popping up everywhere so I’m glad that Kat was my guinea pig so I won’t be tempted to try the series no matter how often it pops up.

    Thanks Kat!

  5. Cernunos /

    I disagree completely with the circle jerk going on here. This is interesting urban fantasy with a different take on the typical genre characters.

    I find Meg to be compelling. Someone who has been locked up her entire life, with only pictures to explain the world, is of course going to be overwhelmed with too much stimuli. She would have to be coddled to an extent or the world would drive her mad. The important thing is that she is fighting to live her own life, as much as possible, to learn and process the world so that she can become whole at some point.

    As for the romantic relationship that makes sense given the world it is happening in. The Others see humans as lesser beings at best and food at worst. While some Others give human girls a tumble on occasion, it is looked down on, and never allowed to become a relationship. So now Simon finds he has feelings for Meg which confuses the hell out of him. He honestly cares for her which is not supposed to happen with a human. Meg is confused because she has never had a romantic relationship of any kind. She has only been shown cards and occasionally raped after cutting. I also find it funny that anyone would find it icky. The uber macho werewolves of other urban fantasy are fair game to fuck but the minute the werewolf is uncertain then it becomes sleeping with a puppy.

    The Others are clannish so they don’t have much in the way of hierarchies and bureaucracies. Because of this they don’t have anyone to make executive decisions because they don’t feel they need this. Humans are inferior and if they cause too much of a problem the Others will simply wipe them out. The humans have been divided up into cities and towns rather than countries so again there isn’t much in the way of large scale executive decision making possible.

    It seems to me that either you didn’t pay close enough attention to understand the nuances of the book or you simply have an ax to grind for whatever reason. Do you judge the book by the cover that you don’t like because it sure seems that way.

    • Hi Cernunos,
      Thanks for letting us know why you like this series. Like I said, I’m obviously in the minority and in my review of the previous book, I asked for other readers to let me know what they thought of it.

      I’m sticking by my puppy remark. It’s not that Simon is uncertain. It’s that Meg treats him like he’s her pet. Snuggling, romping, head on lap, “squeaky toy”, etc. Then they’re thinking about a sexual relationship. That was icky to me but, again, I recognize that my opinion is the minority one.

      I assure you that I did pay attention to the book and I have no ax to grind with the author. This is the first book of hers that I’ve read and I was certainly expecting to like it. Just because I didn’t like it doesn’t mean that I didn’t pay attention or have an ax to grind. I just plain didn’t like it and I explained why.

      Again, thanks for letting us know why you liked it. We love to discuss books here, and multiple opinions are always welcome!!

      Kat

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