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Song of the Crow Hardcover – June 15, 2006

4.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In a surprising take on the tale of Noah's ark and the flood, Maheu's beguiling debut unfolds from the perspective of a crow. The crow-narrator (named "I Am") first spies Noah (the beastman) from his nest in a tree (the Giant) that Noah is trying to chop down. From the start, I Am does not trust or understand the Man who lives in the "underworld." As I Am grows up, orphaned by his parents, his survival is a daily challenge: he flies to elude predators and rummage for food, often with another bird called Plum Black, sometimes consulting with elder Old Bone. I Am soon discovers that he can recognize the words of the God Crow, who speaks to Noah with zeal and commands him to continue building the ark. Suddenly, I Am realizes that he can also understand human speech, and eventually, just before the floods, he sneaks onto Noah's ark. The names sometimes confuse, but Maheu's fable works beautifully, probing the relationship between creatures of the heavens and those of the underworld. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“This debut novel is an enchanting account of the natural history of a crow named "I AM" and his observations on a peculiar mammal called Keeyaw, especially one named Noah, who is intent on cutting down tall trees where the crows nest to build an ark…This engrossing story includes the unimaginable realities surrounding the living conditions on Noah's ark during the flood. After reading this remarkable book, you will marvel at every crow you see along the side of the road and maybe even begin to listen to their songs. Highly recommended for all collections.”—Library Journal, starred review

"Beautifully written and artfully imagined." — Robert Hicks, author of The Widow of the South

“Maheu’s canny and skillful marshaling of folklore, scripture, myth and literary reference provides scaffolding for events before, during, and after The Flood as experienced by a creature who, frequently airborne, enjoys excellent points of vantage.”—The Bloomsbury Review

“[A] gentle, powerful debut…Like a fable written by a poet, the story is a simple one, yet its profundity adds layers of complexity that shift, bringing in religion, nature, and morality….the author builds a tale both majestic and humble…”—ForeWord Magazine

"Layne Maheu weaves a rich mix of fiction, crow biology, and mythology blending Christian and Native American legends to tell the crow's story of humankind. The reader feasts on a fabulous crows' eye view of the birds' world and its connection to the human saga." —John Marzluff, co-author of In the Company of Crows and Ravens

“[R]etells ancient Deluge legends in a crow’s voice: raucous and Rabelaisian, yet lyrical, and at times sweetly tender.”—Seattle Times

“No need to spend a long time pondering which book is this summer's most inventive; hands-down champ is this knockout debut by a Seattle carpenter. Maheu has crafted a remarkable retelling of the Noah saga from the perspective of, believe it or not, a crow who witnesses the unfolding drama. This is far more than a lit gimmick; this richly imagined novel delivers an important parable for today from a startlingly fresh perspective.”—The Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“It is a testament to Maheu’s gift and his ability to fully inhabit his narrator that the reader identifies more with I AM the crow than Noah the human. Song of the Crow is an enthralling tale that ignites the imagination and reminds us that even the most familiar story has two sides.”—BookPage

" 'Song of the Crow' is worth a good, long look."—The San Diego Union-Tribune

“Maheu’s prose is stark and lovely…a must read for lovers of literary fiction, natural history, mythology, and for anyone who loves a book that will permanently change their perspective.”—Historical Novels Review


“[F]ascinating….Maheu's novel breathes fresh life into a Biblical tale which has become so bland and sanitized that Noah and his ark are most commonly found these days as bedspreads and wallpaper designs in nurseries. Maheu saves Noah from a needlepoint-and-animal-cracker fate and forces us to see what is probably the world's most catastrophic event with a new understanding and appreciation…Nearly every anthropomorphic tale in the past 30 years owes more than a passing nod of debt to Richard Adams' Watership Down. Song of the Crow is no different; but Maheu's novel holds up to the comparison. The bird, who eventually becomes a stowaway on the ark, is as real and compelling to us as Adams' talking rabbits were to readers 30 years ago….Maheu brings global destruction down to a personal, tragic level with an admirable economy of words….crackle[s] with suspense….fresh and compelling.”—January Magazine

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Unbridled Books; 1st edition (June 15, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932961186
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932961188
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,348,340 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Anne Mini on August 7, 2006
Format: Hardcover
It's been a long time since a book's imagery has haunted my dreams as much as SONG OF THE CROW's. Oh, the writing's gorgeous -- Layne Maheu's the kind of writer destined to make other writers of literary prose violently jealous, and deservedly so -- and the story, the well-worn tale of Noah's ark told from the point of view of a crow, is astonishingly compelling, considering that pretty much any adult reader in the Western world already knows what is going to happen. (Spoiler alert: the waters eventually recede.) But long before the protagonist crow's prophesying aunt is shellacked onto the prow of the ark -- I defy anyone who reads the book to dismiss THAT image quickly -- the absolutely plausible sensual details had seduced me entirely into this crow's world.

Quite an achievement, considering that it would be hard to find a darker story -- not to ruin the plot for anyone, but God does wipe out virtually the entire population of the world in a not entirely explicable fit of pique. Watery graves, victims of violent predation, and resentfully crowded and confined beasts of the earth, air, and sea abound.

Yet this book has genuinely funny moments that do not feel at all forced. Our crow guide is a bit sardonic from time to time, and Noah's sulkiness in the face of clearly unreasonable heavenly requirements is a joy to behold, but the humor is never light-hearted. This is the humor of, if not the grave, very near it indeed.

I noticed that another reviewer was quite enamored of the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I felt that it was an editorial mistake to have them appear quite so often; occasionally, they gave away what was about to occur.
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Format: Hardcover
I didn't really know what to expect from the title of this book, but it certainly was not what I could have even imagined. This is truly a work of a very vivid imagination and a very skilled writer. The images are so clear that you can almost hear the water slopping around the hull of the boat.

The descriptions of the beastmen (Noah and his family) are brutal--a realistic portray of primative peoples. The descriptions of the land, water, and air are poetic. The conversations of the crows are believable, meaningful, and insightful providing a unique look at the old story of Noah's ark. This is not a children's Sunday School version of the story. But rather it provides new dimension to an old tale emphasizing the relationship of man, animals, God, and the elements.

It was difficult to follow at times, the crow's relationship to the other crows and other animals was at times confusing. That is especially true when the bird died and its soul became a part of the entity responsible for the death. However, this is a book to be read again; once one had a better feel of these relationships, the story might take on an even clearer meaning.

In short, this is not an easy read, but it is certainly interesting, creative, and not like anything else.
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Format: Hardcover
Layne Maheu's debut novel Song Of The Crow offers a unique depiction of the confluence of humanity and the metaphysical heavens as illustrated by the story of Noah and the Flood from the perspective of a crow. Song Of The Crow carries readers through an incredibly engaging and superbly crafted story of struggle, fear, free will, the inner workings of the human mind, and the obedience of an old gray haired man to the commandment of his God despite the ridicule and disbelief of his community. Maheu's writing style is lyrical and imaginative, a kind of extended story-telling meditation uniquely portrayed through the eyes of a bird viewing the pitiful struggle of the man to build his ship and save all life from being extinct because of the wrath of Yahweh. A welcome addition to any community library fiction collection, Song Of The Crow is especially recommended for all readers who enjoy stories inspired by scripture and brought to life with flair, style, and imagination.
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Format: Hardcover
When I first picked up the book and read the description, I confess I had some trepidation that this would be a book that was going to be "good for me," much like raw carrots. Much to my delight, Song of the Crow was as shameless a page-turner as a Michael Connelly mystery, and as intricately constructed as a Napolean pastry. Yes, it's good for you, too. The prose on virtually every page could qualify as poetry; there are images that have not yet left me since I finished reading the book. But the literary conceit of having a crow as narrator, which I initially thought would be clunky and false, manages to feel seamless and true. The narrator crow and his family are as three-dimensional characters as any human could be, maybe more.
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Format: Hardcover
Upon reading Maheu's book, one is struck by the powerful sentence structure and imagery. Each sentence and word has been thought out and placed to resonate inside the reader's mind, a voice asking questions, over a Biblical myth of historical grandeur. Underneath the telling of the crows' lives is the flood myth and Noah, or Keeyaw, the grand man and beast building his ark upon God's command. A parable, a story of man's indifference to the environment, and eventual return. The epic Biblical story is caringly retold as almost a folk tale, satisfying lovers of poetry and great literature.
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