Sunday, September 27, 2020

Book Review: Morrigan's Blood, Book One in the Crow's Curse Series by Laura Bickle


Bickle, Laura. 2020. Morrigan's Blood. Syrenka Publishing, LLC. (eBook only) ASIN: B08B9TJ4V9. 

I've been a fan of the books written by YA and Adult fantasy author Laura Bickle since reading her Wildlands series, starting with Dark Alchemy, a few years ago (see my review here). It's a very unique contemporary dark fantasy world, so I had high hopes when I found this new series mentioned last week on the author's Twitter account (@Laura_Bickle). The three books in the series are scheduled to be released once a month, in September, October, and November, and after reading the first one, I've pre-ordered Book Two. Morrigan's Blood opens the series, which is an interesting take on the the Irish Morrigan mythology, set alternately in ancient and contemporary times. 

The Morrigan is mainly associated with war and fate, especially with foretelling doom, death, or victory in battle, and in this role often appears as a crow (Wikipedia). The author seems to have done an excellent job of mining the mythology in writing the series. At the beginning of the story, set in ancient times, we meet The Morrigan and witness her power in battle. She has granted her favors to various kings over the centuries in return for blood. In this re-telling, the original Morrigan is also a vampire, known as Queen of the Night, and she relishes in blood (a quick caveat: there is a lot of blood in this book, so if that isn't your thing, just a content warning, though I think it worked well with the story line). 

In contemporary times, we meet Garnet Conners, an assertive and talented trauma surgeon who has a birthmark that looks like a crow on her shoulder. We find out that crows have been leaving her little gifts since she was a child, though she never knew why. When the severely injured patient Garnet is operating on launches off the operating table and disappears into the night, Dr. Conners finds herself caught in a war between the vampires and witches in her city that she knew nothing about.

The book has a dual timeline, with scenes from The Morrigan's life centuries ago appearing as dreams to present-day Garnet, though she doesn't understand them at first. But she meets a man from the dreams one evening, and her whole life is upended: for she possesses the blood of The Morrigan, and both the witches and vampires want her on their side. 

The characters are fully fleshed out, the dialogue is seamless, and the pace is unrelenting once the story takes off. I really loved the addition of the crows and the impact of their appearance in both timelines, and appreciated that echo back to the Wildlands series. The book ends with a satisfying climax for the original story, but also somewhat of a cliffhanger, leaving the reader wanting to know what happens next in this exciting and fresh dark fantasy take on Irish mythology.  4.5 Stars ⭐

I recommend Morrigan's Blood for those who enjoy urban and dark fantasy novels with strong female main characters, such as those by Faith Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Patrica Briggs and Seanan McGuire.

The next two eBooks in the series are Morrigan's Bite, coming October 23, 2020 and Morrigan's Bond, available November 19, 2020, which I have not read - but am looking forward to. 

(click on images for more info)