#SPFBO 8 The Blood of Crows by Alex C Pierce : Review


What is SPFBO? Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list.

I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.


Today I am posting the third of five reviews for the books that I rolled forward (see my feedback posts for batch No.12 and 3).  All told I carried forward five books, The Hidden Blade by Marie M. Mullany, The Blood of Crows by Alex C Pierce, Scarlight by Evid Marceau, Between Ink and Shadows by Melissa Wright and Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson and over the next few days I will review each book in the order I read them.

So, without further ado here’s my review for The Blood of Crows:

I had a good deal of fun with Blood of Crows.  It started strong and the momentum was continuous. A well thought out story with magic and heists and a murder mystery that threatens the stability of the realm.

As the story begins we meet Ren and his Partner Martin, they’re on a job which involves stealing a precious book from the Praetorian Order.  Both are under contract to the Order’s militia to act as peacekeepers so they are ultimately biting the hand that feeds them.  From the outset we’re thrown into the world and it is immediately apparent that magic exists.  Sigils are used for protection and on top of this the Order uses Inquisitors – feared greatly these are more akin to feral animals than human beings.  What also becomes immediately apparent is that Ren is different, he’s contracted to the militia and must wear the bracelets that seal his knack (elemental magic) – but, he actually doesn’t have a knack – or at least it hasn’t awakened so far.  What Ren does have is an ability to see the magic sigils that are used throughout the city for any number of purposes and this undoubtedly gives him an unknown advantage in terms of getting in and out of difficult situations.

The pacing for the story is really good.  It’s not chaotic or rushed but at the same time it feels like there’s always something going on to keep your attention and it’s written in a way that delivers information smoothly as you find yourself becoming immersed in the plot.

Speaking of plot – we start with a robbery, we move on to murder and to cut to the chase this becomes a race for our character Ren to discover the identity of the murderer before the whole shebang is hung at his door.

Firstly, I liked the characters.  Ren has a lot to discover during Blood of Crows, a few home truths that are unsettling and a further mystery that we haven’t even touched on at this point, and we are along for the ride.  Ren is an easy to like character, he’s young, sometimes a little over confident but then that’s swiftly countered as he blunders around or finds himself in an embarrassing situation.  He cares about others even though that puts him at risk and he’s usually fighting against the odds. Ren’s apparent lack of magic puts him at a massive disadvantage in terms of strength, speed, even quick thinking.  He is thankfully quick on his feet and has a couple of very good friends.  Molly is a young woman who over the years Ren and his partner tried to help.  I really liked Molly, she is a master with gadgets and has a way of winding Ren up in a playful sisterly fashion.  Haim is a young student who helps Ren through a tricky situation.  She becomes involved in the investigation and is quick thinking and very capable and she and Ren eventually start to develop feelings for each other – although no romance as such at this point – just lots of side eyeing each other followed by furious blushing and awkward moments.

I thought the author also did a really good job of drawing her ‘bit’ characters, especially the victims – hear me out – they only have short starring roles unfortunately but they’re brought to life, albeit momentarily, in such a way that made me care about them and want somebody to come to their rescue.

Secondly, I liked the sense of place. I wouldn’t say it was groundbreaking as such but there’s a sense of comfort in reading something that’s so easy to imagine.  We don’t travel outside the boundaries of the city but this is a place broken easily into different layers, the wealthy situated on the upper terraces moving slowly down according to status until you have the lower echelons known as the Sprawl -aptly named for its sprawling twisted streets of crumbling ramshackle buildings and alleys.  The City has an uneasy alliance that seems to teeter on the edge of failure.  Many years ago peace was struck and the Accords were agreed upon and signed up to – signatures from the University, The Praetorian Order and the Royal Family keep the individual stakeholders from breaking the peace.  However, certain elements within the City are now straining against those boundaries drawn up years ago.

The magic is element related and people can have the knack for one or more elements.  Earth relates to strength, Air to speed and agility, water for healing, Fire for intelligence and there is a further strand which I won’t mention here as it needs to be uncovered as the story expands.  Sigils can be used for any number of things from protecting entryways to making it impossible to scale walls and elemental magic can be used to imbue these sigils.

Finally, the plot has a good pace, I enjoyed the writing and more than that I really enjoyed the fact that the story has the sort of balance that I enjoy.  The author makes good use of certain moments to lighten the moment and not only does this give the reader a bit of respite from some of the darker elements but it also does make those moments more shocking somehow.

In terms of criticisms. Well, I don’t have much to be honest.  I did have a small query concerning Ren and his abilities and I don’t, even now, feel that I really know what’s going on in that respect (I won’t mention what my query relates to as it would involve a spoiler).  Also, – that ending!  What?!  I am looking at you Alex C Pierce.

Heists. Easy to like characters. A murder mystery.  Potential civil unrest. An unresolved mystery that I’m thinking may be touched upon in the next book and an ending that throws everything up in the air.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

6 Responses to “#SPFBO 8 The Blood of Crows by Alex C Pierce : Review”

  1. Dawn

    Thanks for that review. Sounds right up my alley so I ordered it. 😊

  2. maddalena@spaceandsorcery

    The core elements of this book sound like they combine into a good, very enjoyable mix. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      Absolutely and they’re very enjoyably executed. This was such a good read.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Tammy

    This sounds good! Also when you get to the end of the first book in a series and you want to read more, that’s a good sign😁

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