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Eyes of Crow    by Jeri Smith-Ready order for
Eyes of Crow
by Jeri Smith-Ready
Order:  USA  Can
Luna, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Belle Dessler

For years, Rhia has denied what she's known to be true: of all the spirit animals who could have taken her under their wing, it's Crow who's chosen her. Crow's abilities aren't something Rhia ever wanted. He allows her to see death as it approaches, to herald a person's final moments of life. But if the person isn't due to die soon, Rhia also sees the moment of his death as it will be, and she has to carry that knowledge with her until the preordained event occurs.

Frightened of her gift, she puts off training for as long as possible, until death comes to Rhia's door and claims her mother. Unable to do anything to ease her mother's passage, Rhia realizes that she's dawdled long enough. It takes great courage for her to step into the Great Forest and accept the training that's offered, but her people need her, and she must do what has to be done. As Rhia learns how to control her power, she also learns to tangle with Death itself. While two powerful men stand by her side, Rhia walks the path of the Crow alone. Is she strong enough to deal with the sacrifices Crow demands of her, or will she shatter beneath his demands?

The first installment in this magical series is an emotional, engaging and appealing fantasy. Smith-Ready is a born storyteller. Her writing is clear and precise. Events flow easily from one to the other, and the pace of the novel never slows down. Rhia is a likeable heroine. She's strong and independent, but knows when to lean on others for help, even while she struggles to come to terms with what's expected of her. The village of Asermos hasn't had a Crow woman for two generations. Unlike others of her age who accept their Animal Guides and go on to train with people in the village, Rhia must leave everything she holds dear behind when she decides to embrace the gift Crow's offered her.

Eyes of Crow is true epic fantasy. It encompasses events that are larger-than-life, and spans a significant time period in Rhia's life. Readers are lucky enough to accompany her as she makes the journey from child, to youth, to woman. Along the way, she suffers incredible losses and partakes in amazing success, but every battle is hard won and each struggle delivers her closer to the arms of Death. For a well-told story of courage, passion and magic, look no further than Eyes of Crow. If the first installment is any indication, Smith-Ready's magical series is sure to be a winner.

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