I don’t know how I didn’t make the connection when I picked this book up. One Crow Alone by S.D. Crockett is a prequel to a book I previously reviewed, After the Snow. First, prequels are rare in the book world compared to the amount of sequels. The concept of prequels has been tarnished by movie prequels. For example, the original Star Wars movies were great, then I watched the first prequel, The Phantom Menace…well actually that’s not 100% true, I skimmed it as it was too horrible. Then Hollywood took a book that was NOT a prequel, The Hobbit, and tried to make it a prequel after the success of The Lord of the Rings films, turning one book into three movies to try to squeeze out every last dime. So I would likely not have picked up this book if I had realized what it was, but I am glad I did.
Although the main focus of After the Snow was how Willo and his family lived in the aftermath of the new ‘ice age’, One Crow Alone takes place at the tipping point where the world was getting colder, but it hadn’t gone apocalyptic and civilized society hadn’t completely broken down. In fact, this story was less about the weather and more of a story of immigration issues and first love vs. more mature relationships.
The main character, Magda, is a Polish teen who has been living with her grandmother in a small village since her mother lives and works in London to make enough money for a better future for herself and her daughter. However, as the story begins Magda’s grandmother has just died, and while Magda is a strong country girl who can look after herself, this loss happens right on the cusp of disaster. Power lines are increasingly going down; including phone lines and the weather is getting colder. She is already wondering how to reach her mother when strangers enter her little village. Magda hides believing them to be thieves or worse. Only later does she find out that they were military/government types who have now evacuated all the people in her village.
On a quest to find her mother in the UK, Magda learns how bad things really are, though she finds a sort of ally in Ivan, a Russian boy who has had a hard upbringing. However, between his survival tricks and Magda’s practical country ways, they are able to survive the increasing chaos around them as they journey to London and through England trying to adjust to events as they happen.
There are two things I did not like about the book though; first throughout the book is a reference to some folk tale about a crow and a girl. The crow segments didn’t really match up with the storyline and therefore were a distraction, not something that enhanced the story. Also, it bothered me that this level-headed strong village girl would be so dense about Ivan; I failed to see why someone like his character would be attractive to her in anyway, other than possibly loneliness after losing her Grandma. I did like that the book stands on its own and people don’t have to read After the Snow to follow it.