Series: Call of Crows #1
Genres: Paranormal Romance
Published by Kensington on 31 March 2015
Meet Kera Watson. Barista. Ex-marine. Dog owner. Clipboard wielder. Her life was fairly boring until the day she intervened to protect someone and ended up dead….sorta. Her second chance at life, courtesy of Vig the Viking, saw her reincarnated as a Crow. Sure she has to follow the whims of a goddess and deal with a fairly crazy set of fellow Valkyries but she has a licence to kill, the strength to pull it off and a cute Viking crushing on her. What more could a girl want?
Laurenston seems to have had an inordinate amount of fun messing around with Viking lore and her take on things hangs together pretty well. In this novel there are different groups who swear allegiance to a different Norse god and have a different skill set and responsibilities. Kera is a Crow and her ‘crew’ are known for being crazy women hell bent on destruction and chaos. This makes Kera a bit of an odd fit to start with as she’s more comfortable with her clipboard and routine but she soon learns to embrace her psycho side. The rivalries between the groups might sound a bit sorority/fraternity-ish but led to lots of genuinely funny moments.
The good bits
This is a pretty entertaining novel with all of Laurenston’s trademark zaniness. Take the opening scene for example – a naked chick (our protagonist) who has recently brought back from the dead takes on the baddies with a giant hammer. The Valhalla scene in particular had me laughing out loud.
Kera. I was surprised to find someone like her in this book as she reads more like a kick-ass urban fantasy chick than a stereotypical paranormal romance heroine waiting to be rescued. Kera’s character was more rounded than Vig so we find out about how her time as a marine shaped her attitude to life and why she is so blindly devoted to her dog Brody. She gained insane strength when she was transformed into a Crow but it never really occurs to her to abuse this power and in fact goes out of her way to not kill others – something that causes her fellow Crows no end of concern.
Vig. I found him a really refreshing character as he was perfectly happy to support Kera as she adjusted to her new world and didn’t seem to see the need to take control. We were repeatedly told how tough he was and that everyone was intimidated by him but Kera brought out his soft side and turned the stoic Viking into a veritable marshmallow. His skill as a weapons maker meant that he was uniquely placed to give Kera the tools she needed to capitalise on her strength.
The proportion of action and romance works well with neither overwhelming the other. I especially liked how Laurenston used Kera’s training to bridge the two even if she went from untrained to sensei in a relatively short space of time.
The not so good bits
Laurenston populated her world up a bit too quickly for my liking. There were so many characters that it was difficult to keep track of them all and what made a bad situation even worse was that the characters were referred to by their first name, last name or nickname. I’m ashamed to say I had a big ‘duh’ moment when I realised that what I assumed were two different characters were actually the same person. I much preferred Laurenston’s approach in her Pride series as I wasn’t so overwhelmed. I hope that she settles down now that she has given us the framework and the next book doesn’t have the same issues.
Reminded me of…
Chloe Neill’s Chicagoland Vampires series – the set up is quite similar with different houses that run a bit like sororities/fraternities. In the Pride series we had inter-species relationships that helped drive the plot forward and this is the equivalent.
Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series – this one is a no brainer as the Crows are incredibly similar to the Valkyries in Cole’s books. Cole’s concentrated approach focusing on one or two Valkyries at a time gives readers depth while Laurenston’s massive cast gives us breadth or in other words, a huge dollop of jam versus a thin spread. I suspect Laurenston will remedy this over the next few books though.
If you are in the mood for a very funny paranormal romance series with some atypical protagonists then definitely jump on the bandwagon.