Book Review: Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr by John Crowley

I looked for something different to read and got recommended Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr. The cover (which is amazing) and the book premise instantly pulled me in, and after reading the first pages, I ordered the book. Ka isn’t your typical fantasy. It is like a campfire story about past lives and mythologies mixed with children’s animal fairy tales with moral but written for adults. It works. The language is beautiful and dream-like. The story is interesting and left me in this weird good mood (as if everything will be all right, everything has a purpose, and the world makes sense.) And who wouldn’t like these words: “One Crow alone is no Crows: Alone Dar Oakley was more alone here than the Saints were in their cells.”?

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr is a tale about what it is to be a crow, but on a deeper level it is a tale about being different and following that path and asking questions and not taking the world as it is. It is also about death and immortality. I would love to tell you what the book’s moral is and how it will end because it makes the book great, but I think it is best left to be discovered. What made me love the book was that this reminded me a lot of my childhood’s fairytales with a moral, and now as an adult, those books are hard to come by. Here is a moral passage which I will always cherish: ‘ “Never make fun of the Small Ugly People,” One Ear told the Crow clan children and others gathered around him. “Never laugh at them. They know they’re ugly and they’re ashamed of it, but they can’t change it. They hear better than any other being, and they’ll know you mocked them. They’ll hide from you ever after, and you won’t find them even when they could do you some good.’

The only downside the book has is its pacing. The book is slow to read, and there are places where I wished the story would move on, but when I think about editing the book and cutting out scenes, there isn’t a single word I am willing to take out. Every word belongs there even when it can be tiresome.

Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr is definitely an odd book among its kind as is the crow.

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