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City of Crows

City of Crows - Chris Womersley This is a really interesting book. I like the weaving of occult references into the story. Contained in them is always the hint that it is the actions of the characters that have steered their outcome, and their belief in dark magic driving events is simply their own attribution of a causal relationship.

A recurring theme seems to be the lengths that people will go to in order to prosper, to satisfy their desires or to protect their loved ones. Also whether a lofty ideal or aim justifies evil acts. Another theme is how those amongst us who are powerless, will go about trying to reclaim some of their power and agency, and the impacts on those around us.

I did enjoy the historical backdrop to all this, the thrown of Louis XIV wasn't known for its thrift, economy or frugality. It was as if Louis' lust was a contagion that spread to some parts of the city and some of its inhabitants.

On the crows of the title, I understand the double-edged symbolism of these birds, essentially, their meaning for us depends on what characteristics we acribe to them, rather than their true nature. As an aside, I have a family of Australian magpies who frequent my garden. As much as I love them, I haven't seen any apparent displays of overt affection amongst them. I did witness one between two crows. After one had lost in a scrap with the magpies, it retreated to where its mate was perched. Its mate then proceeded to preen it and the vanquished crow appeared to lean into its mate accepting its preen and appearing to be comforted by it.

But then again, that could just be me imposing my own meaning on the situation. And that seemed to be something that occurred frequently throughout this story. Womersley teases and tempts you down a path of what is magic, what is real, who is good and who isn't, only to challenge that path you are on right at the very end.

I did enjoy this book very much. It's not perfect, but the twist at the end redeemed it and got me thinking about all of the above, which all good books do. But be warned, this is no feel-good story.