Tag: the merciful crow

10 Dark Fantasy Books to Read During Those Cold Winter Nights

The nights, they are growing colder. Trees are becoming skeletons, the air is starting to bite with razor-sharp teeth, and the snow is beginning to onslaught the ground with flurries. The world will soon be a blanket of white and the cold will start to rattle our bones to the core. We will be forced to retreat behind closed doors and seek shelter from the bitter wind knocking against our windowpanes. Before we know it, the outside world will be almost a mere memory as fuzzy socks, fireplaces, and good books become our reality.

Of course, many avid readers during this spectacular season will favor books about summer. They will try to recreate warmer days by reading contemporary fiction and books about falling in love under a sultry summer sun. These books might cure a summer hangover, but they will not keep a reader in touch with the season. Dark fantasy screams winter. It reflects the weather bellowing outside houses’ front stoops and will keep readers’ chest warm as they read about magicians, monsters, and assassins that slink in the darkness. Here are ten dark fantasy books meant to entertain and to read during those cold winter nights. I promise they will keep readers wishing for more days filled with adventure and dangerous forbidden love.

 

 

These Violent Delights By Chloe Gong

 

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For as long as anyone can remember, the Scarlett Gang and the White Flowers have been at each other’s throats. The established rival gangs have gone to extreme measures to try to undermine their competition and, in the process, have painted Shanghai’s street red with blood. Shanghai’s frightened citizens always assumed that the Scarlett Gang and the White Flowers would be their city’s demise, but something monstrous is lurking in the city’s shadows – something even more prominent and sinister than either of these gangs combined. This entity might destroy Shanghai before the Scarlett Gang and White Flowers can hammer the final nail in their city’s coffin and the rival gangs cannot let that happen. In light of these unforeseen circumstances, an alliance between the gangs is formed and the two heirs and former lovers Juliette and Roma are forced to put their guns down and work together to save the city they both one day want to rule.

These Violent Delights occur in 1920s Shanghai and is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet’s classic story. The 2020 release is dark, violent, and takes place in a historical fantasy world where a monster stirs up trouble in the depths of the Huangpu River.

 

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco

 

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Emilia and her twin Vittoria are Streghes, witches who live secretly among humans. They stay out of the limelight to avoid notice and persecution, hiding in plain sight. However, their parlor tick of hiding amongst the mundane does not fool the eye for very long. One night, Vittoria fails to show up for dinner, and before Emilia knows it, she is finding her sisters’ body mauled and desecrated beyond belief. Overcome by vengeance, Emilia unpeels herself from the comfort of the shadows and goes on a journey with a Prince of Hell to find her sister’s killer before any other lives are lost. The only thing Emilia is not sure about is if she can trust this dashing prince. Is he truly on her side? Or is he really the killer that took her sister’s life?

 

 

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

 

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Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets are born into the royal family. All three girls are queens, equal heirs to the crown, and possessors of powerful magic. The girls, although gifted with extraordinary abilities, cannot all rule as one colloquial body. Only one can be the true crowned monarchy of Fennbirn and the title of her majesty is not given thoughtlessly. If a girl wants the crown, she has to fight for it and ultimately use her magic to eliminate her sisters from the picture.

In Three Dark Crowns, only one sister will survive to rule over Fennbirn. The other two will sadly perish for the circle to continue for generations to come and for three more triplets to be born and rule over the island they call home.

 

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen

 

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In the brutal, plague-ravaged world of Sabor exists Fie, a Crow; a member of a group of mercy killers whose obligation is to put to rest anyone unlucky enough to contract the plague. Fie, bound by a duty she cannot escape, lives stuck at the bottom of Sabor’s strict caste system. She breathes, day in and day out, the nasty plague-ridden air and kills with a straight, even face. She believes that her life will always remain this way, but things start to change for Fie when her band of wayward Crows is summoned to the royal palace. Of course, Fie believes that she is just there to scavenge the bodies of the plague’s next victims, but finds herself enlisted on a crazy plot to smuggle the Sabor’s prince to safety before he is killed by the queen, who is attempting to take the throne for herself. In just a blink of an eye, Fie’s entire life changes as she embarks on an incredible journey to save her fate and a prince’s life.

 

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 

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The Le Cirque des Rêves. It comes without warning, wading through the fog on an unforgiving night. Within hours, the tents rise under the glow of the stars and the show prepares to open its doors for just one night of entertainment. If one misses the grand opening of the magical exhibition, they are out of luck. The circus is open for one night and one night only before it disappears into the darkness, leaving nothing behind in its wake.

Celia and Marco, two of the circus’ magicians, are accustomed to traveling and performing for the masses, but they are also used to competing against each other in a duel of magical wit and talent. Unbeknownst to them, Celia and Marco’s rivalry is a game, where only one talented magician will survive and continue to perform on the circus’ stage. For the fate of the circus and everyone involved, this competition of survival must play out between the two magicians, even if Celia and Marco have fallen completely and utterly in love with each other amid their battle.

 

The Obsidian Tower by Melissa Caruso

 

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Ryx did not think her life could get any worse. She already has been gifted with broken magic that takes life from everything she touches and has disappointed the entire Vaskandar empire as the mage-marked granddaughter of their ruler. Now, she has accidentally killed a visiting dignitary in self-defense and activated a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle. Ryx is unsure what has become of her life or her purpose in this world until she comes across a group of unlikely magical experts after fleeing her home as a result of the destruction she has caused. Upon meeting these individuals, Ryx discovers that her family is in grave danger and the magical artifact she brought to life could destroy the very fabric of her world. As a result, Ryx must return to the family that has blacklisted her if she has any chance of saving them and the world from her accidental wrongdoings.

 

 

NeverNight by Jay Kristoff

 

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The Red Church is home to the deadliest assassins in the entire Republic. These assassins that live in this cathedral of darkness are merciless and bloodthirsty. They are gifted in the art of killing and their canvases are the ones unlucky enough to find themselves underneath their knife.

Mia Corvere is the newest assassin, ready to live within the Red Church’s walls and be inducted into the Blades of the Lady of Blessed Murder. She is bright, fearless, and vengeance is the only thing on her mind when joining the assassins’ order. She craves to take down the forces that destroyed her family and she will stop at nothing to achieve the Republic’s demise. However, Mia’s hellbent plot of mass destruction and death might have to be put on hold. A killer is loose in the church’s halls and the whole congregation is at risk of being unraveled from the inside out. Not to mention, the secrets Mia attempted to kept buried unearth themselves from the ground and threaten to ruin her before she can make a career for herself as the next great assassin. Mia’s world is on the entire brink of collapse before her brutal final initiation has even begun. Will she be able to save the Red Church before her new home crumbles before her eyes or will she fail and be killed just like her father – as a traitor?

 

wicked saints by Emily a. Duncan

 

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In a land filled with obscurity and torment, a girl that can speak to gods must find a way to save her people without killing herself. A dashing prince who hangs between life and death must figure out who he can trust in this cruel, twisted world. And, lastly, a boy with a terrible secret awaits his destiny in the wings as the world crumbles and bends around him. These three individuals live in a world soaked in blood and death as a century-old war warps their reality and lives. However, when they meet, a spark of hope ignites in their hearts as they go on a dark, thrilling quest to save their reality and lives before it is too late.

 

 

the young elites by Marie lu

 

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When the blood fever overtook Adeline Amouteru’s body, she was supposed to die. All the children that come down with the fever succumb to it. They deteriorate and wither before their parent’s eyes and eventually die a horrible death. Adeline’s parents expected their daughter to become nothing more than a sack of skin and for her soul to leave her body like the other children, but she did not fall victim to the fever. She overtook it. She beat it. Adeline rose from her very ashes like a phoenix, but her surviving the fever came with a price. Her hair turned alabaster, a jagged scar marred her face, and she was able to wield a dark power that scared grown men. Adeline Amouteru became a Young Elite; a child reborn from the fever. Her very existence became illegal – for Young Elites are hunted and killed by the king and his Inquisitions.

For a while, Adeline avoided being persecuted for her “crime,” but when she accidentally kills her father with her newfound abilities, she finds herself about to be burned at the stake. Upon her last breath, she is saved by a member of the Dagger Society – a group of Young Elites who strive to overthrow the reigning monarchy. Grateful for saving her life and with nowhere to go, Adeline joins the Dagger Society and in the process, ventures down a dangerous path that could lead to her destruction.

 

the prince of thorns by Mark Lawrence

 

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Prince Jorg Ancrath used to be a loving child with a bright smile before darkness took hold of his reality and crushed it in the palms of its hand. When Jorg was just nine years old, he watched his mother and brother get killed before his eyes. By the time he was thirteen, his attitude had soured, his heart had turned cold, and he had a band of outlaws at his fingertips to do his bidding. Now, at fifteen years old, the prince wants to return to his castle and retake everything swiped from underneath his feet. Life and death mean nothing to him at this point. Revenge is all that is on his mind. He will do anything in his power to become the king of his realm and spread chaos across his vast lands if it means he can get retribution for his fallen brother and mother’s death.

 

 

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9 Books with Animal Sidekicks for National Pet Day

Don’t have a pet to celebrate National Pet Day with? Not to worry—we’ve got plenty! These nine reads, all complete with a furry friend or two, will make you feel a little less lonely this National Pet Day.

1. Fleetfoot – Throne of Glass

Throne of Glass

via amazon

If you’ve read Sarah J. Maas’ bestselling series, Throne of Glass, you’re familiar with Celaena’s dog, Fleetfoot. The series follows Celaena Sardothien, an 18-year-old assassin currently a slave in the Endovier salt mines. Dorian Havilliard, the Crown Prince, offers her freedom, but only if she competes to become the new royal assassin. If she wins, she’ll serve the king for three years, before earning her freedom. 

Fleetfoot is not only a fan favorite of the book, but is a cornerstone of friendships in the book; not only is she a gift from Dorian, but she’s also looked after by those in Celaena’s circle. If you’re looking for yet another reason to read Maas’ debut series, Fleetfoot is it!

2. Winn-Dixie – Because of Winn-Dixie

'Because of Winn-Dixie'

via amazon

Because of Winn-Dixie is a classic children’s book many of us have either read or watched the 2005 movie version. If you love dogs, and are looking for some nostalgic feels, this book is for you. Winn-Dixie is not only a friendly companion for ten-year-old Opal Buloni, but also teaches her to be brave and to face life’s challenges head-on. The book might be for kids, but its lessons about companionship and being a kid are timeless.

 

3. Hedwig – Harry Potter

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Naturally, we had to add Hedwig to the list. Gifted to Harry by Hagrid, Hedwig is a snowy owl that not only delivers mail for Harry, but serves as his faithful companion through thick and thin, and even fights in the Second Wizarding War. This is an owl with a lot of personality, and is probably one of the best characters of the series. Yes, Harry Potter is full of magic, good and evil forces, and a deeply-developed world that exists alongside our own—but Hedwig is the frosting on the cake!

4. Barf – The Merciful Crow

The Merciful Crow (The Merciful Crow Series Book 1) by [Margaret Owen]

via amazon

Don’t let his name fool you; Barf is actually a very lovable cat. 
The Merciful Crow follows Fie, a future chieftain of the Crows. Considered the lowest caste, the Crows are looked down upon, even as they are expected to remove the bodies of those who’ve died from the plague. After faking their deaths, Prince Jasmir makes a deal with Crow’s chief: if they help him take the throne from his power hungry stepmother, he’ll protect the Crows when he becomes king. After removing the supposedly-dead bodies of Prince Jasmir and his Hawk guard, Fie decides to take the royal family’s cat as payment for her work, thus naming him Barf. Considered to be a part of the family, Barf is viciously protected by Fie in the midst of finding themselves hunted by the Oleanders, their brutal enemies.

5. Shiloh – Shiloh

'Shiloh'

via amazon

Shiloh is a heartwarming children’s book and Newberry Medal winner centered around Marty Preston, who falls in love with a beagle near his home. When he discovers that the dog belongs to someone else—Judd Travers, a drunk who likes to abuse his dog—Marty decides to protect Shiloh at all costs.
Who can resist a story about friendship between a boy and his dog? If you’re looking for a book about loyalty, a dog, and a young boy’s golden heart, this one’s for you, whether you’re revisiting your childhood or reading Shiloh for the very first time.

6. Buttercup – The Hunger Games

via amazon

Everyone knows Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, but do you remember her sister’s furry companion? While there’s animosity between Katniss and Buttercup, Prim lovingly cares for him over the course of the series. In a series focused on the brutal Hunger Games—a competition where two teenagers from every district fight to the death—it’s a wonder Buttercup manages to stay alive. By the end of Mockingjay, Katniss even manages to accept and get along with the cat, if only for Prim’s sake. 
If you’re eager to see Buttercup in action, you can read about him in The Hunger Games or watch him in the movies!

 

7. Patrick – Gone

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Patrick is Lana Arwen Lazar’s beloved yellow lab, the only prominent pet mentioned in the Gone series.
When everyone over eighteen suddenly vanishes, the children and teens of Perdido Beach are left to fend for themselves. As the kids struggle to maintain order and determine the cause of what they colloquially refer to as the “FAYZ,” some discover they have powers that grow stronger by the day. 

Lana is often suspicious of others and tends to keep to herself, with only Patrick for company. While many of the dogs in Perdido Beach are eaten when the kids start to go hungry, Patrick is left alive, if only for fear of Lana’s wrath. He is the first one that Lana uses her newfound healing powers on after he protects her from a mountain lion, and remains by her side for the rest of the series.

 

8. Starlight, Belle – The Saddle Club

Horse Crazy (Saddle Club series Book 1) by [Bonnie Bryant]

via amazon

If you were a ‘horse girl’ back in the day, you might remember reading The Saddle Club, a widely popular children’s series centered around three middle-school friends who ride at Pine Hollow Stables. When main characters Carole and Lisa help Stevie with a math project, it not only solidifies their friendship, but prompts them to start their very own club—The Saddle Club. 

Though the girls ride numerous horses, Carole eventually gets her very own horse, Starlight, for Christmas, while Stevie buys Belle. The series focuses on friendship, a love of horses, and juggling riding with school, continuing with Pine Hollow, which follows the girls into high school.

9. Total – Maximum Ride

via amazon

Despite being a dog, Total is as much a part of the Flock as anyone else. In a series centered around six mutant kids, all left with wings and various superpowers after being experimented upon, it’s only natural that their dog is as abnormal as they are. In The Angel Experiment, Angel saves Total from the Institute and brings him into the Flock. While Total might not have wings (at least not at first), he does talk, making him a fun and quirky character that provides some lighthearted relief to the trouble the Flock gets into over the course of the series.

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