Some time ago, Ashe Corven and his son Danny were killed when they stumbled across a pack of drug dealers murdering a fellow dealer. The dealers work for Los Angeles drug kingpin Judah Earl. Local tattoo artist Sarah, who has great knowledge of the crow legend because of what happened with her late friend Eric Draven, has been having dreams about Ashe and Danny. One night when a crow leads her to the scene of the murders of Ashe and Danny, Ashe appears before her. The crow has resurrected Ashe, so Ashe can go after Judah and his right hand man Curve. With the guidance of the crow, Ashe starts killing off Judah's men one by one, on his way to Judah.
For starters, I was super excited about picking up this book. I’ve been a huge fan of the Crow franchise since I was a kid, and the original film remains my favorite of all. Though I wasn’t too crazy about the movie this novel was adapted from, I wasn’t terribly disappointed after reading this.
For those of you unfamiliar with The Crow, it’s the story of a man who is killed along with his fiancée and comes back a year later for vengeance. Since the release of the original, there have been several spinoffs and sequels, in film, television, and literature. In this particular instance, the Crow resurrects a man who was killed along with his son. The portrayal of the father-son relationship, though seen in brief moments sprinkled throughout the novel, worked well. You can tell how fiercely Ashe loves his son and how that love fuels his desire to seek revenge.
Something I really loved about this book was the depth of the characters, in particular of the villains. Though we do find out a lot about Ashe and his companion Sarah, we learn just as much about the antagonists and how they came to become involved with the bad elements in the city (and how one of them in particular was a bad element to start off with). That being said, the leader of the antagonists, Judah Earl, wasn't as well developed as his henchmen were. Since he's the head of the snake, I thought he would've been more interesting as a character; he's sinister, but to my mind, it felt like he was lacking motivation. Additionally, I wasn't totally happy with the relationship between Ashe and Sarah; though their individual developments are rendered well, their relationship isn't. I would've liked them to spend more time together to really appreciate their feelings for each other.
I felt like the pacing in the book was better than that in the film. Where in the film, we are dropped almost immediately into the driving plot point, the book builds up the protagonist’s predicament and we realize, along with him, why he has come back and what he has to do. Since there is more character development, the novel had what felt like a more reasonable pace, as opposed to the film, which felt really rushed. On the other hand, the gradual build up to the action was kind of slow and made it seem as if Sarah would be the protagonist, since the focus is almost entirely on her. Morbid as it may sound, I would've preferred to have seen Ashe's death in real time instead of in a flashback.
The ending left me feeling a bit unsatisfied, but not because it was necessarily bad. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t a happy ending. However, it does have some signs of hope lingering over it. Even though Ashe ends in a less than desirable circumstance, I felt some hopes that he wouldn't be stuck in that position forever. The ending also tied a few loose ends with some minor characters who had appeared as the novel progressed.
Before reading this, I highly recommend you watch the original Crow film, as the book makes several references to characters from it. You can watch the sequel this novel is based on for more context, but be sure to watch it before reading as well. The book is better than the film, but the latter provides a basic outline for what you’ll be reading in the former. Though it has flaws (especially noticeable if you're familiar with the franchise, in particular the films), this novel is better than its source material, and I think it's a fairly good starting point for someone who is new to the Crow universe.