The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen
A future chieftain.
Fie abides by one rule: look after your own. Her Crow caste of undertakers and mercy-killers takes more abuse than coin, but when they’re called to collect royal dead, she’s hoping they’ll find the payout of a lifetime.
A fugitive prince.
When Crown Prince Jasimir turns out to have faked his death, Fie’s ready to cut her losses—and perhaps his throat. But he offers a wager that she can’t refuse: protect him from a ruthless queen, and he’ll protect the Crows when he reigns.
A too-cunning bodyguard.
Hawk warrior Tavin has always put Jas’s life before his, magically assuming the prince’s appearance and shadowing his every step. But what happens when Tavin begins to want something to call his own?
A guilty admission: I came for the crows, because I’m inexplicably attracted to anything that has to do with crows, literal or figurative. I stayed for the impeccably built world, and the strong and well-written characters. Everything about this book was so new and refreshing, starting with the first line: “Pa was taking too long to cut the boys’ throats.” What. An. Opener. From the beginning, I was drawn in, first by the opening line and then by the beautifully macabre tone of the whole story. By the first chapter, I was hooked.