The Unyielding (Call Of Crows #3)- Shelly Laurenston
Stieg Engstrom, Angriest Viking Ever, has got big problems. The human Viking Clans of earth are in danger of being obliterated—along with the rest of the world—and the only one who may be able to save them is a super pain-in-the-ass Crow. Most people annoy Stieg, but this is the one woman he really can’t stand…
Erin Amsel loves being a Crow! Why wouldn’t she when the other Viking Clans are so hilariously arrogant and humorless? She’s not about to let all that come to an end! She just didn’t expect to be shoulder to shoulder in battle with Stieg. Then again, he’s so easy to torment—and also kind of cute.
With the future of the world riding on them, Stieg knows he’ll have to put aside his desperate need to kiss the smirk right off Erin’s face. Wait. What? He didn’t mean that—did he? No! They have one goal: To conquer the idiots. Because nothing bugs Stieg more than when idiots win. If only he can keep himself from suddenly acting like one…
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My Review -
Before I start gushing over the next installment in this amazing series, I have to thank Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books who gushed about it a few different times on her podcast. I believe it was her interview with the author that finally tipped me over the edge into reading the first book. I wasn't sure about a series about immortal Vikings who have retractable wings but let me tell you, Call Of Crows is definitely for me because hello hot Vikings.
This series keeps getting better and better! I positively inhaled this one and enjoyed every single moment.
Call Of Crows builds on itself with each book so you'll want to start with The Unleashing and The Undoing. The Crows are the human warrior clan of the goddess Skuld composed of women who were either enslaved (or nowadays descendants of slaves) or marginalized and mistreated in their first life and then given a second chance in which they kick ass and take no prisoners. This gives Laurenston room to tackle subjects like race and privilege in such a compelling and unique way. You know that makes me geek out!
When The Unyielding begins, the Viking clans are trying to prevent the end of the world from happening. Literally. The one who holds the key to saving them is the most unlikely of candidates: Erin Amsel.
"People loved to threaten Erin Amsel, he just didn't know why. Because threatening her was a sure way of getting her to focus on you. Making you part of her life's work, which was tormenting people beyond all reason." p. 19
Erin likes getting a rise out of other people. In fact, she lives for it. Add in her short temper and even shorter attention span and it's no wonder people either love or hate Erin...and most people hate her. On the other hand, she's the person you want by your side in a battle. I had no idea how Laurenston would build a book around her, much less who would fall in love with her, but I never underestimate this author.
"She'd never met anyone so young who seemed so bitter. Something about him just radiated 'old man ordering kids off his lawn.'" p. 27
Stieg isn't like his Raven brothers, mostly because he spent most of his teen years on the streets before the clan found him. He's scrappy and he's got a lot of anger trapped inside. Cue: brooding. Cue: me swooning. He's the kind of Viking who relishes the battle. In that way, he and Erin are perfect for one another.
Stieg and Erin have always had an adversarial relationship, mostly because of the stunts Erin pulls. Because of the events around them, Stieg starts keeping an eye on Erin so she doesn't kill herself or get killed by any of the numerous people who want her dead. This isn't your traditional enemies-to-lovers romance though. In fact, the romance is really secondary (or maybe even tertiary) to the plot. I loved their banter and how working together forced them to see each other in a new light. But even then, there aren't sappy declarations of love because that wouldn't be true to either character.
Laurenston is phenomenal at world building. You get the bulk of the Viking mythology in the first book but each book adds another layer and it's truly fascinating stuff. In this novel, we learn more about the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (their characters cracked me up! Who would suspect they'd be surfers?!) and we accompany Erin and Stieg into the Underworld on their quest.
Laurenston's writing is clever and I laughed out loud a lot. Erin can be ridiculous, for one. But I also love all the interactions between the Crows, Ravens, and other clans. That's probably my third favorite thing about her writing: the friendships. As well as her marvelous depiction of Lady Rage through the Crows. I could gush about this for days!
I never knew where the plot was going to go. I mean, I hoped Erin and Stieg wouldn't die on their quest and that the clans would be able to prevent the apocalypse but I had no idea how or if it would happen. There were some truly evil beings running amok and Erin, as badass as she is, had a lot of obstacles to get through on the off chance she could get the sword that would save them all. No guarantees. And I know this plot might sound nuts but it is seriously so good. I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.
Then the ending. I literally laughed out loud for a solid minute because the cliffhanger was so unexpected and bold. That's why I love these books so much! I can't wait to see where Laurenston takes us next. (Fingers crossed for Chloe and Josef's story!) If you give this series a chance, you won't be sorry.
Disclosure: I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links included in this post.