When Among Crows (Veronica Roth) – book review

Veronica Roth has well and truly broken out of her YA phase with some recent releases that challenge genre tropes, like Poster Girl and Chosen Ones. Her latest novella When Among Crows is more down the line urban fantasy but is no less enjoyable. In it, Roth draws on the mythology of Poland and its connection to more universal, global mythologies.

When Among Crows opens with a creature of legend and a man on a quest. That man Dymtri has come to Chicago from Poland seeking a rare and protected flower that can be used to lift a curse. Once he has the flower he must go into the twilight world of Chicago’s monster population where he will use it to seek help for a deeper and far more dangerous mission.

When Among Crows is in the mode of many current urban fantasies. Zalika Reid-Benta’s recent book River Mumma transposes Caribbean mythology to present day Toronto, Neil Gaiman did this with American Gods and Ben Aaronovitch’s Rivers of London series introduces a rich demi-monde to the urban environment. Roth draws on Polish mythology, brought to America by immigrants and as a result her mythological creatures rub shoulders with those from Irish and South American lore.

Given the subject matter and some of the characters, it’s unsurprising that When Among Crows has a fairy tale quality. But it is also a perfectly pitched found-family quest story with plenty of heart and a fascinating backstory. At its more novella length When Among Crows is long enough to draw readers in and make them care about the central trio of characters but short enough to consume in one sitting.

Robert Goodman
For more of Robert’s reviews, visit his blog Pile By the Bed

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