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Review: The Crow: Quoth the Crow by David Bischoff

Friday, October 24, 2014


The Crow: Quoth the Crow
David Bischoff

Genre: Urban FantasyHorror
Paperback: 277 Pages
Publication: January 1998
by HarperPrism



William Blessing is obsessed with Edgar Allan Poe. Like Poe, he is a writer of dark fantasy. And like Poe, he has powerful enemies. One of them pretends to be a friend, even as he plots to murder William and steal his wife. Blessing's only hope is to learn the truth about his "friend" before -- But this is the realm of the Crow, where the grave is the doorway to the truth. William must walk through it to discover Poe's final secret. Then, and only then, with the help of a dark-winged "Raven," can he return to feed on the human carrion who raped his wife and slaughtered his soul. 

Review

I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this in another review, but I'll go ahead and say it again: I am a HUGE fan of The Crow. Any cult film enthusiast is probably familiar with this film, but for those of you who haven't seen this wonderful piece of cinema, do yourself a favor and watch it. I first saw the movie when I was twelve and instantly loved it, so you can probably imagine how much I shrieked with glee when I found out that there was a whole Crow franchise, including novels. I'd already read one of these novels before picking this one up a while back, so I was more than excited for this book.

For those of you who are new to the Crow universe, the basic gist of the original and all its spinoffs is this: a person unjustly killed is resurrected by an unknown force, given a crow as a guide, and has to go out and set the wrong things right, usually getting revenge on those who killed them. In this particular instance, we get Dr. William Blessing, a Poe scholar and collector, who is brutally murdered in a botched plan that has gone horribly awry.

This novel confused me in the first few chapters but I later realized why I was so thrown off. In previous Crow stories I've read and seen, the whole thing starts when the person (referred to as the Crow with a capital C) is brought back to life by the bird and figures out that they're back and why, with memories of the past being thrown in during flashbacks. Though the prologue takes place during the revenge part of the plot, the first half of this novel sets up the unfortunate circumstances for Dr. Blessing that lead to his being brought back to life as a Crow. Maybe it's because I'm so used to the standard formula, but I struggled a little with reading the first half of this novel.

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about some of the characters. I don't have a problem with Dr. Blessing and his wife Amy as characters; they're fairly well developed, and we're given good details on their relationship. I also have to give the author bonus points for the Poe reference in their relationship (Amy is essentially a child bride, as was Poe's own wife, Virginia). However, when it comes to the antagonists, I have very mixed feelings. They're actually somewhat smart and come up with plans that sound like they could work, but I feel like we're not given enough information on them. Two didn't really feel like antagonists so much as they did just random accomplices who really didn't realize what they were getting themselves into. I seriously thought that one of them was suffering from some sort of delusion, but because this was never confirmed, the doubt remained. I'm not sure if that makes him a stronger antagonist or a scarier one, but he was still a genuinely creepy character either way.

This book did something that no other Crow story I've read has done besides the original: it gave the bird itself a personality. In James O'Barr's original comic, the crow makes appearances throughout the book, usually chastising the protagonist for getting caught up in his feelings and forgetting about his mission. In the films and the other books I've read, the bird is just a familiar, the one who silently guides the resurrected Crow and helps them in tracking down their enemies. Here, the bird appears from the beginning and is even described as having a Brooklyn accent, which gave me a good laugh. It talks to Blessing, presumably telepathically, and its "voice" comes across as very wisecracking, but in a funny way and not annoying.

As you can probably guess by the title, there are a lot of Poe references throughout this book. Every chapter started with a quote from famous Poe works such as "The Black Cat," "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Tell-Tale Heart," "The Raven," among several others. Morbid as it may sound, I loved the fact that Blessing takes inspiration from Poe stories when he gets revenge, quoting the stories when taking out each of his assailants and their accomplices. The ways in which he kills them got some graphic descriptions, but the way he ties the deaths in with Poe was just really clever, so I feel like that aspect of the revenge plot deserves some praise.

Going off of that, I liked how the Poe theme was tied into the mythos of the Crow universe. I have to admit that I was a bit surprised to find that Blessing was the Crow in this book, mostly because, at forty-seven years old, he is the oldest character I've encountered to have taken on the role. This isn't a bad thing, and it was a nice personal touch on the part of the author. Each Crow varies slightly from author to author, and I thought it was interesting that the author of this book chose not to give Blessing the iconic Crow makeup (which has also been incarnated in masks or facial scarring). I also have to give big kudos on Blessing's strengths and weaknesses as the Crow, particularly in how he starts to decompose if he drifts away from his mission and how his thirst for revenge and love for his wife can heal him.

And then there was the ending. My Goth, that ending. Like in the beginning of the book, the first few pages of the epilogue felt a little off, but then the last pages brought everything together and made for a grimly satisfying ending. It tied up some minor details that were mentioned in passing with two chapters that initially felt really out of place with the rest of the narrative, bringing them together with the rest of the story really well. This ending had a strong Tales From the Crypt feel to it, and I just loved it.

This book gave me a great and very pleasant surprise. The beginning was a little slow and kind of clunky for my liking, but once the revenge plot was set into motion, it really picked up the pace of the narrative. There were some decent characters, and all of the Poe references were great. The plot was relatively solid, and the ending was probably the best thing overall of the novel. If you want a good revenge story with some great references to classic literature, this is the book for you.

Rating: 4.5 stars


Series

  1. The Crow: Quoth the Crow
  2. The Crow: The Lazarus Heart
  3. The Crow: Clash By Night
  4. The Crow: Temple of Night
  5. The Crow: Wicked Prayer
  6. The Crow: Hellbound

Similar Books
  • The Crow: Wild Justice by Jerry Prosser and Charlie Adlard
Content
  • Some language
  • Some drug references
  • Strong violence
  • Implied and attempted rape
  • Graphic depictions of murder
  • Implied cannibalism

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