[Book Review] White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick


This is an old review, though I still feel the same way about it now as I did then.

*This book was also used in a booktalk for class.

White Crow by Marcus Sedgwick • 2011 • Roaring Brook Press • 240 pages

“An oppressive modern-gothic thriller.”


Genre/Theme: Horror, YA, Mystery, Gothic, Paranormal, Thriller, Religious, Demon Worship, Strange Town Just Got Stranger, I don’t even know what’s going on here anymore

Brief Summary: Sixteen year old Rebecca moves her father from London to a small seaside village, where she befriends another motherless girl and they spend the summer together exploring the village’s sinister history.

Evaluation: Can I give something no stars? Yes. Yes I think I can. 😦

1-2 things you liked:

  • The short chapters.
  • The fact that the story is told via a mix of diary/journal format, 3rd person narrative, and also first person narrative. It was an interesting concept, I just don’t think it worked well for this book.

1-2 things you didn’t like:

  • This book was weird as fuck. Throughout the entire read I kept asking myself, “What is even going on in this town?” and “What the hell am I reading?”
  • All the God and Devil, and Angels and Demons reference (that mostly came out of nowhere) really threw me off because of how manic it was and all the highly, disturbing religious connotations from the priest who is literally going out of his mind. The obvious metaphors to Christianity, the Resurrection, worship and bible butchering, Hell and Heaven references (you know… the kind with “YOU SHALL BURN IN THE DEPTHS OF HELL!!” kinda thing…) I felt like I was listening to a crazy religious person who wanted to convert me or damn me to Hell (Although, I’m sure, more likely the motivation would be to damn me to Hell, since I would never convert 😛 ).
  • It had like fifty different fonts in it which drove me crazy. It is probably just the editor in me, but I could not see the point to it. As much as the publisher tried to use the different fonts throughout the book to differentiate narration and… I don’ know? Give the book a unique perspective? It just wasn’t working for me.

Would you recommend this book?: I doubt it. But maybe someone else would like this kind of thing…

Looking Back (Current Thoughts & Eval): When I first heard about this book, I was really excited. It sounded like the perfect read for my unique taste in books. The creepy cover, the even creepier synopsis, the curiouser and curiouser tagline, the genres of horror and paranormal and suspense all fit the bill. But then I started reading. And then I got a little further. And then I put the book down and didn’t finish it until I ABSOLUTELY HAD TO.

Then I sorely regretted it.

I don’t even remember what went on in this book because I purged it from memory since then. And even after all that, I am still left with this mental bad aftertaste that won’t go away. (It’s like with John Steinbeck’s, The Pearl. I can’t STAND that book. I barely even remember what it was about, but all I do remember was that it was a COMPLETELY pointless waste of my time and, if I ever wanted to, I would burn that book. Yeah. That bad.)

Another thing, White Crow was one of those books where you’re really not sure how it got past the editor’s desk. It’s not like the editing was atrocious (though it also wasn’t very good either) or even that the concept and actual story was all that… bad… It was just… really… really odd. And “odd” as in really NOT GOOD.

I wanted to like this book. I wanted to love the characters and the story and all the creepiness of that town. I even wanted to love the priest (Heaven forbid!) but… I just couldn’t. Confusing (NOT ambiguous, because this was NOT an ambiguous story as some would claim), choppy, not really scary either, and odd-as-in-NOT-GOOD. This was a whole different kind of “odd” and “weird” that bordered on bad storytelling. I should not have to force myself through a reading of something that is (or should have been) 100% in my reading genre preference.

But hey! I’m sure there will be people who would like this sort of book, and actually find it “scary” and “well-written”. I was just not one of them. Normally *I* would like this sort of book and didn’t so… take that as you will? 😕



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