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The Plague by Clem Martini

cover image Bloomsbury, 2006
(11+)In this remarkably imaginative tale, Kyp has been left alone after a devastating plague has overtaken the bird population. He wakes to find the Chooser murdered by another crow, Kym kidnapped by humans and his family decimated. Determined to find Kym, he sets out on a perilous journey, picking up strays, orphans and outcasts on the way.

After marvelling at the author's ability to invent a multitude of names starting with K, it wasn't too difficult to sort out characters as Martini drew a convincing portrait of each different bird, giving the reader in-depth insights into different personalities. Kyp faces the challenges of being a leader and the daunting task of protecting his ragged flock against humans and a renegade crow who has spread a Messianic message to convince other crows to join him.

This is not just a fascinating story about crows but a convincing portrait of a plague overtaking the bird population. A look at the human population from the viewpoint of the crows is remarkable. There is plenty of fast paced action in this book, but underpinning it are themes of responsibility, redemption and family to give the reader much food for thought.

The second book in The Crow Chronicles, it can be happily read as a stand-alone. I found it very hard to put down, and look forward to reading others in the series.
Pat Pledger


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