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

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Song of the Crow

Prologue

A big black bird is making the most gawdawful racket, for no apparent reason, caw caw caw!!! his entire body bouncing upward with each caw. Perhaps he is singing.
—Ben Jacklet, "Crow Mysteries"

Happy Noah, singing Noah, eager to do God’s bidding without a single drop from the sky. There’s the story of his miraculous birth, that he came into the world already circumcised, with a full head of hair all long and silver and already combed, and at the age of three could stand and deliver speeches on the virtues of his all-powerful moral authority in the sky. But if it were true, that he was born with the pale signs of Misfortune already sprouting from his head, he wouldn’t boast, not even at the age of three, because it is a wellspring of sadness that grows there, and to carry it around with you always is a burden no one would wish for.

How would I know? And why was I summoned to keep an eye on this peculiar example of his species? It was in my stars, in my sky, and in my bones, and is the story I’m about to tell.


I
Nestling



Suddenly the ocean waters began to break through over the westward hills and to pour in upon these primitive peoples—the lake that had been their home and friend, became their enemy; its waters rose and never abated; their settlements were submerged; the waters pursued them in their flight. Day by day and year by year the waters spread up the valleys and drove mankind before them. Many must have been surrounded and caught by that continually rising salt flood. It knew no check; it came faster and faster; it rose over the tree-tops, over the hills, until it had filled the whole basin of the present Mediterranean and until it lapped the mountain cliffs of Arabia and Africa. Far away, long before the dawn of written history, this catastrophe occurred.
- H. G. Wells, Outline of History, 1920

Crows, and with them I include ravens, seem as though by convergent evolution to have something in their psyches corresponding to something in our own.
- Lawrence Kilham, The American Crow and the Common Raven


1
Keeyaw the Terrible

I remember the nest that hatched me. My mother lined it carefully with the fleece of human and sheep, mane of horse, down of dogwood, but mostly the fray of twigs and grasses. At first that was the world to me, until I was strong enough to look out over the tangled latticework of twigs on the outside of our nest.

Then I discovered the sky, spread out above our cedar roof branches.

And from the sky came our mother’s call, low and urgent and gurgled through the broth of freshly dead things in her beak. Grow! Grow!

She lit, a black ball of rattling feathers, scanned all around her, then lowered the quick clippers of her beak, smeared with blood and slime and victuals.

And my brother and I, we opened our beaks to the sky. Me! Me!

We cried, naked and fierce. I Am!

Until we were just blood-red little holes crying out for the minced guts of life.

Her beak worked in fits, shaking the foodstuff into us, then pushing it further with her tongue. That became all of the world to me. That and sleep. Sleep, and feeding, and our mother’s low mewing call.

Then I began to wake to other sounds, other crow calls, and our mother flew off to meet them. When the calls were near enough, I saw how the rest of my family would feed her, and how she’d dive back down to the nest and give us their offering. Before long I began to realize when it wasn’t Our Mother of Many coming down to us. The others were longer and more luxurious in the air. Our Many flew as if perpetually landing—the air and everything in it between her and wherever she wanted to be. And if she found our father or one of the other siblings feeding us, she’d look us over afterward to see if we were still plump and juicy, as if their inept feeding had sucked the vital juices from us. Her eyes told us she was the only one with enough patience and wisdom and past to love us, as if she were nourishment itself. Through the ragged fall of her feathers, her eyes peered down at us, cloudy sky-yellow orbs of concern, the only thing about her that was calm.

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

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: That Time I Loved You
    That Time I Loved You
    by Carianne Leung
    Carrianne Leung was a Toronto Book Award finalist for That Time I Loved You as well as for her debut...
  • Book Jacket: The Pianist from Syria
    The Pianist from Syria
    by Aeham Ahmad
    Aeham Ahmad became famous as the face of Syrian suffering when a photo of him playing piano in the ...
  • Book Jacket: The Smiling Man
    The Smiling Man
    by Joseph Knox
    Joseph Knox's latest turns on a simple premise: an unidentified and unidentifiable murdered man is ...
  • Book Jacket: The Heavens
    The Heavens
    by Sandra Newman
    I've been a big fan of Sandra Newman's writing ever since reading her 2014 novel The Country of Ice ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    A People's History of Heaven
    by Mathangi Subramanian

    A story of love and friendship, and fighting for the places we love.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    American Princess
    by Stephanie Marie Thornton

    Rated 4.9 stars by BookBrowse members - one of the highest scores of all time!
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
Girls Burn Brighter
by Shobha Rao

An extraordinary and heart-rending tale of two girls with all the odds against them.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Book Club Giveaway!
Win The Summer Country

Win up to 12 copies to share with friends or your book club!

A sweeping epic of lost love, lies, jealousy, and rebellion set in colonial Barbados.

Enter

Word Play

Solve this clue:

D T T! Full S A!

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

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.