My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This one is on the middle-grade side of the Ya book spectrum and a solid 3.5 read. I upgraded it somewhat for daring to give us a YA book without a love triangle and a dystopic setting where women have been reduced to brood stock. It's a fun read with a simple plot. Granted there is a bit of stretching your suspension of disbelief for this though.
Caw is a thirteen year old homeless boy and has been since he was five. He was in fact raised by crows in a park of Blackstone, the city he lives in (yeah right there is that suspension of disbelief taking a beating. Yes, later it becomes slightly more believable that a five year old could be raised by crows but still, it's a bit of a stretch.
Anyhow Caw can actually speak to his companion crows, Glum, Screech and Milky, the white, maybe-blind crow that almost never speaks. It opens with Caw scrounging for food in trash bins and nearly getting the crap kicked out of him by some older street toughs (which is where I have issues with the whole five year old part. Even with the help of the crows how does a five year old survive?). In the process he's saved by Crumb and Pip but Caw doesn't stick around long to thank them.
His home is a tree house 'nest' that he built in the park high up in the trees. He tends to venture out in the cover of night and shortly after being saved by Crumb, Caw goes back out and witnesses a jail break and along with his crows, manages to keep Jawbone, Scuttle and Mamba from kidnapping the warden's daughter, Lydia.
Lydia befriends Caw and tries to help him learn things like reading but she pushes too far too fast and of course her dad suspects Caw is involved with the escaped prisoners. He doesn't know it yet, but he actually is.
When he and Lydia are attacked again, Caw is confronted by Crumb again and learns that he is different. He's one of the titular ferals: humans who can talk to animals. And there's a bit of dark world building here. You only get this power once your parent, who was the animal talker before you dies. It explains Caw's reoccurring dream where his parents throw him out the window and crows fly off with him (and raise him).
Caw soon learns the truth about his parents and the Dark Summer when he was just a kid. The Spinning Man, a spider feral (because of course it is. Shudders) nearly killed all the ferals then and his followers, the escaped prisoners) are out to return him to power. Is Caw and Lydia there to stop them or unwittingly help them?
I really liked all the characters in this and for those with younger readers, this is on par with the earlier Percy Jackson and Harry Potter books in terms of being a 'clean read.' There's violence, yes, but not terribly graphic (though there is minor character death). I'm looking forward to where the series goes.
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