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The Angel of the Crows

by Katherine Addison

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5133347,833 (3.92)23
Fantasy. Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML:

Katherine Addison, author of The Goblin Emperor, returns with The Angel of the Crows, a fantasy of alternate 1880s London, where killers stalk the night and the ultimate power is naming.
This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the audiobook you are expecting.
In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings in a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.
Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.
A Macmillan Audio production from Tor Books

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» See also 23 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
I enjoyed the characters, the worldbuilding, and found it a fresh and interesting take on Holmesian fiction, and I really liked Crow in particular. At times it felt a little disjointed, and though I really liked some parts, there were other parts that didn't appeal quite so much. Overall an enjoyable read. ( )
  73pctGeek | Apr 14, 2024 |
In many ways this book is charming and comfortable, but it also hits you with that fire hose of worldbuilding much like The Goblin Emperor. Thankfully it's not quite as overwhelming if you're familiar with the Holmes tropes and references. It goes through several of the more famous stories, tweaking details here and changing reveals there, and adding a long arc of the main characters chasing the trail of the Whitechapel murderer. Some of the stories were so similar that the reveal felt like a bit of a letdown, but on the whole they were fun and engaging.

The best parts were the ways that Crow and Doyle built their friendship, peeled back layers of each others' inner lives, and gave each other the love and respect they needed. ( )
  AdioRadley | Jan 21, 2024 |
One of my favorite writers does it again! Addison's take on Victorian England and Sherlock Holmes'ian detecting is amazingly in-depth and fun to read. Would dearly love more about JH Doylecs story AND Crow's story (please ( )
  decaturmamaof2 | Nov 22, 2023 |
I haven't read Sherlock, but this was a delight. ( )
  mmparker | Oct 24, 2023 |
Honestly I wouldn't have picked this up if I didn't adore "Doctrine of Labyrinths", since I'm not a Sherlock Holmes fan. That being said, it was a very enjoyable book, and despite letting it sit for about a month after reading the first chapter or so, I read the bulk of it in about a day. It's not as good as DoL, but it is very enjoyable.

Perhaps the greatest compliment I have is that this took a story I only remember detesting when I read it in college - "The Hound of the Baskervilles" - and made it an enjoyable adventure/mystery romp. Admittedly I'm not very well-read on the original Sherlock Holmes mythos, but I have read this one, and reviewers saying the book is a beat-for-beat retread but with angels seem to have not been reading the same book I was. TAotC is largely split three ways: solving a mystery, character-focus, and diving into the supernatural worldbuilding. All three elements work very well together.

I really enjoyed diving into the supernatural world created in TAotC. Perhaps reviewers who felt the story doesn't dive enough into it should pick up D&D manuals for that deeper dive they seem to want, or just ask for a sequel or other story set in the universe. Addison spends a great deal of time with many supernatural creatures and their place in this universe: angels, hell-hounds, vampires, werewolves, hemophages, with some added details with ghosts, clairvoyance, Jenny Greenteeth, and others. And she does all this while keeping us tied into the story of Doyle, Crow, and the cast of characters they've been tangled up in for the latest mystery. Yes, Addison created a fascinating supernatural AU Earth, with a version of angels and vampires I haven't seen before, and does some great stuff with hell-hounds. But the world is there to contain the characters, not just... exist like a museum exhibit.

I really like how this version of the Holmes mythos tackles not!Watson's disability. A few others I'm familiar with have done things with it, but this one treats it in a unique way that's really enjoyable to read. Given DoL had almost four books of Mildmay dealing with a similar disability, and that was done quite well, I'm not surprised. My favorite scene in the book is when Crow is helping Doyle with something related to this, and it's one of several very enjoyable character interaction moments between them. Their relationship is lovely, and honestly just made me smile while reading.

The story also does some really interesting things with gender, that kind of feel like a cross between "Steven Universe" and "Elementary", but is really its own thing and I feel is quite good. I'm neither nonbinary nor genderfluid, so I can't speak to the quality of those depictions on that front, but as a piece of writing, I did enjoy it.

My primary criticism really isn't Addison's fault, it's just another reason for why I wouldn't pick up a story like this if not for the writer that wrote it: I don't enjoy mystery stories. I find them boring and tend to zone out. So in the parts of this where it really dove into the mystery solving/theorizing portions and cut back on the character building or world development (e.g., here's a neat way vampires or werewolves or magic was incorporated), I did sometimes zone out or skim, although the moments were brief and Addison did an excellent job of keeping me invested. I'm currently reading a slog of a book, so it honestly speaks to the quality of TAotC that I find mystery stories boring but practically finished TAotC in a day. If I was truly bored, I'd probably still be letting this sit on my printer, waiting to be finished.

The Jack the Ripper story was a bit slow to build in the beginning, but the climax is very enjoyable, mostly because of the character building. There should also be a caveat for this book - this story is really more not!Watson's tale than it is not!Sherlock's. While Watson was the lens through which we originally met Sherlock, so of course it is meant to arguably be as much his story as it is Holmes, there are large portions of the tale where not!Sherlock is absent. The story is not poorer for it - Doyle is an enjoyable POV character, and gets through a number of adventures by seemingly being a largely decent, intelligent, empathetic person, with a great deal of personal trials and tribulations to sort through. But perhaps someone expecting yet another spin on how utterly amazing Sherlock Holmes is should know that this is very much a John Watson story. Crow is a wonderful character, and enjoyable to read about, but Doyle is the star. It is truly a partnership story, with both of them needing each other, whether it's rent or companionship or emotional support or whatever. And it's wonderful to read.

I was even thinking "well, it sucks that it's another tale about how awful lawyers are", but Addison just flipped the script on me there, too, so well done on that level.

Overall, a very enjoyable read. A very enjoyable adaptation of what I understand to be some of the original Sherlock Holmes tales, and the Jack the Ripper plotline. A good character study, a fun supernatural romp with all sorts of creatures, and a great story. ( )
  AnonR | Aug 5, 2023 |
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Epigraph
SHERLOCK: I may be on the side of the angels, but don’t think for one second that I am one of them. —STEVE THOMPSON, “THE REICHENBACH FALL,” SHERLOCK 2.3
Nothing is more deceptive than an obvious fact. —SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, “THE BOSCOMBE VALLEY MYSTERY”
Dedication
this book is
absolutely
for Beth Meacham
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When I left London in 1878, I intended never to return.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Fantasy. Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML:

Katherine Addison, author of The Goblin Emperor, returns with The Angel of the Crows, a fantasy of alternate 1880s London, where killers stalk the night and the ultimate power is naming.
This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the audiobook you are expecting.
In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings in a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.
Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.
A Macmillan Audio production from Tor Books

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