Summer Sale! Save 20% today and get access to all our member benefits.

Excerpt from Song of the Crow by Layne Maheu, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Song of the Crow

by Layne Maheu

Song of the Crow by Layne Maheu X
Song of the Crow by Layne Maheu
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jun 2006, 240 pages

    Paperback:
    May 2007, 244 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


But I already knew. Far back in the darkness of the egg, I’d felt the blows that landed in the forest and sent a tremor through our tree. I’d thought it was some dark force of the weather. But I knew now it was not only a beast but a beast human, Keeyaw the Terrible, doom of the trees, and I knew there must be others, all sorts of Keeyaw-looking creatures, chopping and mauling, driving a wedge into the pulp of the woods. But no. There was only one. One old, hairy curse on two legs, Keeyaw, the grim reaper of our trees, hunkered over the roots of the Giants, assailing them with his anger and dragging them away to the underworld. The thud of that beast working was like the struggle of my own beak, trying to muzzle my way out of the eggshell, or the clap of the flicker, drumming away at the bark, or the rhythm of the wind, my mother’s song, the pause of nightfall. The noise of him felling trees goes far back in my mind, to a time before sound and memory, where the boggy water never stirs.

I didn’t know if my hearing was getting better, or if Keeyaw was getting closer. But the crack of his ax grew tremendous. With each blow, our tree quaked, and the wind scattered his hammering and brought it back again as if he were attacking all of the giants of the woods at once. Get up," I said. "Get out there and look." No one’s coming," said My Other, kicking his claws to get back up. "He’s too close." Close? He’s chopping us down."


Crows and their cousins in the corvid family, ravens, jays, and magpies, have spent hundreds of thousands of years taking advantage of our inventions. … They’ve been known to perform pitch-perfect imitations of explosions, revving motorcycles and flushing urinals.
- Michelle Nijhuis, "Shadow Creatures"

2
Fall of the Giant

Fly off! Fly!

It was our mother. But from where? Where? Who could tell with the wind chasing her calls?

I saw her, a few trees away. She appeared on one branch, then another, then in an altogether different tree. But it was just the yes and no of the wind heaving her perch and whipping her feathers into a confusion of leaves. Why didn’t she swoop onto the nest and stuff food into us?

Fly! she kept calling. Fly!

So what choice did we have? Though I’d never left the deep of the nest, I reluctantly climbed up to the fatal jump. There was no way we could survive it, but Our Many must have known there was no way we’d survive the falling of Our Giant either. And to die at least trying, even though you couldn’t fly yet, was a way to fly off to the Tree of the Dead. Any death before that was no death at all, but only a quick flight into whatever fate befell you—flies and maggots and stiff feathers and dust. The only way to become a true crow was to fly. Until then you were nothing, without a name; flying was all.

My Other was still in the deep of the nest, trying to stand back up, while I picked my way through the hurling twigs and stuck my beak into the headwinds. They howled yesss across my face. They howled yes and no in biting, utter cold. I’d never felt anything like it. But then, this was my first experience beyond the bowl of our nest. As our tree bent, the underworld was thrown into view, first one side of our nest, then the other. I was so scared and astonished, I would have kept going if it weren’t for my enormous bony feet holding me back. Below was a mad sea of branches thrashing every which way. What lay below all the layers of bushes and vines I could not see. But I was hungry to fly. Or fall. Or eat the air. I had to wrap it in my wings, if you could call them that, just bare bones and points. For this very reason, infant crows are discouraged from the edge of the nest. Some just cannot overcome the urge to lunge out and grab hold of the wind and plummet, or whatever the feeling is that takes hold of your wings, even though there are no feathers anywhere yet to fly.

Excerpted from Song of the Crow, © 2006 Layne Maheu. Reprinted by permission of Unbridled Books. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Join our inner reading circle, go ad-free and get way more!

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Mood Swings
    Mood Swings
    by Frankie Barnet
    This book begins with a bombastic premise. Seemingly fed up with the heating planet, the world's ...
  • Book Jacket: The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
    The Ballad of Jacquotte Delahaye
    by Briony Cameron
    Our titular heroine's story begins in Yáquimo, Santo Domingo. Jacquotte Delahaye is a young ...
  • Book Jacket: Another Word for Love
    Another Word for Love
    by Carvell Wallace
    "I write about beautiful things because I live in a country that has tried to kill me and every...
  • Book Jacket
    The Flower Sisters
    by Michelle Collins Anderson
    Michelle Collins Anderson's novel The Flower Sisters, based in part on a real tragedy that occurred ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.
Who Said...

People who bite the hand that feeds them usually lick the boot that kicks them

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.