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Ferals is an Urban Fantasy book series by Jacob Grey.
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The series is set in the city of Blackstone, a once thriving metropolis now ravaged by crime and corruption. The plot revolves around a 13-year-old orphan named Caw, whose only companions are a murder of crows whom Caw has the uncanny ability to communicate with. After rescuing a girl named Lydia from a vicious attack, Caw discovers that he is a feral—a human who can speak to and control a certain kind of animal. With this revelation, Caw must master his latent abilities to protect Blackstone from renegade ferals, joining forces with other ferals along the way.

The three books are:

  • The Crow Talker (2015)
  • The Swarm Descends (2016)
  • The White Widow's Revenge (2016)

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This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Cynthia Davenport is of the emotional variety towards Selina, neglecting her for much of her childhood in favor of scheming up ways to gain power for herself, as well as manipulating her to achieve her own ends and carelessly putting her life on the line. She even attempts to murder her when Selina makes it clear she has no intention of becoming like her.
  • Action Mom:
    • Lydia's mother, Velma Strickham, has a well-earned reputation as one of the most powerful ferals in Blackstone.
    • A darker example with Selina's mother, Cynthia Davenport, aka the Mother of Flies.
  • Ancient Artifact: The Midnight Stone, a stone with the power to take away a feral's powers and bestow them onto a non-feral who comes into contact with it while touching an animal.
  • Animal Theme Naming: Ferals tend to re-name themselves after the type of animal they represent, Caw the crow feral and Crumb the pigeon feral being but a few examples.
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  • Animorphism: Some ferals (such as Caw and the Spinning Man) can transform into their specific animal species.
  • Arachnid Appearance and Attire: The Spinning Man builds his throne out of web, has claw-like fingers, fanged teeth, and becomes more spider-like in appearance as the series goes on.
  • Arch-Enemy: The Spinning Man is this to Caw.
  • The Artful Dodger: Caw.
  • Back from the Dead:
    • Caw and Lydia at the end of The Crow Talker, though they weren't necessarily dead to begin with.
    • A straighter example in The White Widow's Revenge when Caw and Selina use the Crow's Beak to return to the Land of the Living after being killed by the Spinning Man.
    • The Spinning Man manages to return to the living by possessing Selina Davenport and draining her of her life force until he can return in the flesh.
  • Badass and Child Duo: Crumb and Pip.
  • The Beastmaster: Ferals can control a specific type of animal.
  • Betrayal by Offspring: Selina turns on her mother, Cynthia Davenport (the Mother of Flies), when she learns of her mother's true nature.
  • Big Bad:
    • The Spinning Man is this for The Crow Talker and The White Widow's Revenge.
    • Cynthia Davenport, aka the Mother of Flies, is this for The Swarm Descends.
  • Big Bad Friend: Johnny Fivetails towards Velma Strickham in The White Widow's Revenge.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Jawbone (big), Mamba (thin), and Scuttle (short).
  • Bittersweet Ending: In The Swarm Descends. The Mother of Flies has been defeated and Blackstone has been saved, but Selina is in the hospital and the convicts freed by Cynthia are loose on the city, now even more dangerous with their newly-bestowed feral abilities.
  • Black Eyes of Evil: The Spinning Man has pitch black eyes. When he possesses Selina, she gains these eyes as well.
  • Blessed with Suck: In the past, the ferals' abilities led to them being accused of witchcraft and persecuted by ordinary people, forcing them to have to keep their powers a secret.
  • Broken Pedestal: Caw initially looked up to his ancestor Black Corvus. However, in The White Widow's Revenge, Caw learns that Black Corvus was a murderous and selfish individual who hated non-ferals and thus becomes disillusioned with him.
  • Brought Down to Normal: The Mother of Flies' fate. As a result of straining her powers during her battle with Caw, Cynthia's bond with the flies is broken, rendering her harmless.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • When Caw meets the spirits of his parents in the Land of the Dead, he calls them out for abandoning him when he was only five and making him believe that they didn't love him. However, he forgives them shortly afterwards.
    • Selina delivers a more deserved one to her mother, Cynthia Davenport, near the end of The Swarm Descends.
    Selina: All this time, you used me. You pretended to care. You used my love for you and twisted it for your own ends. Well, now I've got new friends who I really care about, and you're not going to hurt them anymore.
  • Co-Dragons: Mr. Silk and Pinkerton towards Cynthia Davenport, the Mother of Flies.
  • Collector of the Strange: Felix Quaker the cat feral spends his time collecting rare feral artifacts throughout history.
  • Creepy Cockroach: Cockroaches are controlled by the cockroach feral Scuttle and prove to be a dangerous enemy.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Caw's parents cast him out to be protected by the crows in order to save him from being killed by the Spinning Man during the Dark Summer.
  • Dark Action Girl: Cynthia Davenport, aka the Mother of Flies. She proves herself to easily be one of the most dangerous foes Caw has encountered.
  • Deader Than Dead: Subverted. The Spinning Man's spirit is seemingly destroyed at the end of The Crow Talker, but later books revealed that his spirit survived.
  • Dead Sidekick: Happens to Screech, one of Caw's primary crow companions, in The White Widow's Revenge.
  • Demonic Possession: In The White Widow's Revenge, the Spinning Man's spirit possesses Selina Davenport, transforming her into the White Widow.
  • De-Power:
    • The Midnight Stone has the ability to take a portion of a feral's powers and store it into itself.
    • The Mother of Flies later ends up severing her bond with the flies after exerting too much of her power in her battle with Caw.
    • In The White Widow's Revenge, Caw temporarily has his feral abilities taken away from him by Black Corvus, but regains them in a confrontation with Corvus in the Land of the Dead.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: The Mother of Flies' seeks to place flies at the top of the feral hierarchy, even if it means rendering the whole of Blackstone into a dystopia. Caw even calls her out on it.
    Caw: You just want power no matter what it costs. Who wants to rule over a dead city?
  • Dirty Cop: Cynthia Davenport uses her position as police commissioner to arrest all of the ferals as part of her Evil Plan.
  • The Dreaded: The Spinning Man is this to the underground feral community. Crumb in particular is terrified of the prospect of the Spinning Man being resurrected.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette:
    • Caw, fitting as his Animal Motif is that of a crow.
    • The Spinning Man counts even moreso.
  • The End... Or Is It?: The Crow Talker ends with Caw noticing a white spider on his head, hinting that the Spinning Man isn't truly gone.
  • Everybody Has Standards: Lydia despises Selina throughout most of The Swarm Descends, but she's still horrified when her mother strangles her and Crumb threatens to drop her to her death. As much as she hated Selina, she didn't want her to get killed.
  • Evil Former Friend: The Spinning Man was this to Caw's mother, Elizabeth Carmichael.
  • Evil Matriarch: The Mother of Flies towards her daughter, Selina.
  • Famous Ancestor: Caw is descended from Black Corvus, widely considered a hero among feral-kind. He later learns that Corvus wasn't as heroic as he appeared.
  • Fantastic Racism: Fly ferals were, for generations, spurned and looked down upon by other ferals. This is the driving force behind the Mother of Flies' evil: vengeance for the mistreatment her ancestors suffered.
  • Fiery Redhead: Both Velma and Lydia Strickham count.
  • Fingerless Gloves: Selina wears these.
  • Freudian Excuse: Cynthia Davenport yearns for flies to rule over Blackstone due to her kind having been shunned by other ferals for generations.
  • Giant Spider: The Spinning Man can transform into this.
  • Give Him a Normal Life: Lydia's mother Velma concealed her feral abilities from her daughter so that she could live the normal childhood that Velma was denied in her youth.
  • Good Is Not Soft: The ferals who protect Blackstone can be rather brutal towards those they perceive as a threat to the city, particularly in their treatment of Selina in The Swarm Descends, terrorizing her and threatening to murder her in front of her mother. And Selina is only fifteen years old.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Selina throughout The Swarm Descends. She initially appears to be on Caw's side, but reveals herself to have been a spy for the Mother of Flies (though she was unaware of her mother's true plans). She is later kidnapped and forced back into Caw's group, only to give them away to Cynthia once more, but only out of panic when Velma threatens her life. She later fully defects to Caw's side and helps him stop Cynthia.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In The Crow Talker, Lydia willingly throws herself into the Land of the Dead, taking the Crow's Beak with her, in order to prevent the Spinning Man from returning to the Land of the Living. Fortunately, Caw brings her back.
  • High-Voltage Death: Jawbone kills himself in this manner.
  • Homeless Pigeon Person: Crumb the pigeon feral. Caw as well, at least in the first book.
  • Human Mom, Non-Human Dad:
    • Caw's father was ordinary human, while his mother, Elizabeth, was a crow feral.
    • Lydia has a normal human father, but her mother, Velma, is a fox feral.
  • I Fight for the Strongest Side: Johnny Fivetails' justification for joining the Spinning Man's criminal organization in The White Widow's Revenge.
  • If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: In The Swarm Descends, Caw decides not to kill the Mother of Flies, realizing that in doing so, he would be orphaning Selina, similar to how he himself was orphaned by the Spinning Man.
  • I Have Your Daughter: In The Swarm Descends, Caw's group attempts to use Selina as leverage against Cynthia Davenport, but it fails as Cynthia doesn't care for her daughter's well-being.
  • Instant Expert: Caw learns to master animorphism stunningly quickly, despite only recently being trained to hone his abilities.
  • Intellectual Animal: Caw's crow companions are practically human in personality; it's just that only Caw can understand them.
  • Kid Hero: Caw, of course.
  • Literal-Minded: Caw has difficulty understanding figures of speech due to having been isolated from human society for much of his life. Best exemplified during his first encounter with Selina.
    Caw: My parents. . . they threw me out.
    Selina: Join the club.
    Caw: What club?
    Selina: It's an expression. It means we're in the same boat.
    Caw: This is a house, not a boat.
    Selina: What planet are you from?
    Caw: This one.
  • Mama Bear: Velma Strickham is very protective of her daughter, Lydia.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Cynthia Davenport plays on her daughter Selina's desperation for her mother's approval and uses her to engineer the capture of the majority of the ferals save for Caw, Crumb and the Strickhams.
  • The Mole:
    • Selina is given the job of befriending Caw and learning of the whereabouts of the other ferals so that Cynthia could ambush them. Subverted as Selina was unaware of her mother's true goals, and joins Caw's group when she learns of Cynthia's Evil Plan.
    • Johnny Fivetails functions as this in The White Widow's Revenge.
  • Mystical White Hair: A variation—Milky the crow has white feathers due to being one of the few crows to have entered the Land of the Dead and returned.
  • Neck Lift: Velma does this to Selina in The Swarm Descends.
  • No Social Skills: Downplayed. Due to having been raised by crows, Caw has some difficulty grasping certain social customs, but is otherwise decent at human interaction.
  • Not Good with People: Felix Quaker prefers to stay away from the other ferals and remain in his mansion with his cats as his only form of company.
  • Not Quite Dead:
    • The Spinning Man is seemingly destroyed at the end of The Crow Talker, but it is revealed in The White Widow's Revenge that his spirit continued to reside within one of his white spiders.
    • Mr. Silk seemingly drowns in The Swarm Descends, but turns up alive in The White Widow's Revenge, now serving the Spinning Man.
  • Offing the Offspring: Near the end of The Swarm Descends, Cynthia shoots her daughter Selina when she attempts to protect Caw from her. Luckily, the wound isn't fatal.
  • One Bad Mother: The Mother of Flies.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Emily the centipede feral's daughters were killed by Mamba during the Dark Summer.
  • Overarching Villain: Gideon Marshall, aka the Spinning Man. The threat of his resurrection is the driving conflict of The Crow Talker and he's the Big Bad of The White Widow's Revenge, and his presence is felt throughout the series.
  • Papa Wolf: Crumb is very protective of his adopted son, Pip. When the Mother of Flies captures most of the ferals in The Swarm Descends, Crumb's primary concern is rescuing Pip.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Caw's parents flung him out of their house when he was only five years old. It turns out it was to save him from the Spinning Man.
    • Gideon Marshall, the Spinning Man, was abandoned by his own parents as an infant.
  • Parental Neglect: Cynthia Davenport sent Selina to boarding school at age five, and even on holidays was almost never there to spend time with her daughter. This is what led to Selina so quickly agreeing to help her mother capture the other ferals, unaware of her true motives—she merely wanted her mother's affections.
  • Parental Substitute: Crumb towards Caw and Pip.
  • Platonic Boy/Girl Heroes: Caw and Lydia Strickham.
  • Punch Catch: In The Swarm Descends, Lydia attempts to strike Selina when the latter stops her from going after her parents, only for Selina to catch her wrist mid-swing and restrain her.
  • The Quiet One: Milky the white crow.
  • Raised by Wolves: Caw has spent most of his childhood being looked after by crows.
  • Reformed, but Rejected: Selina, after unwittingly leading the other ferals into a trap, resulting in their capture at the hands of the Mother of Flies, defects to Caw's group. However, the rest of the group is none too trusting of her, especially Lydia, who acts immensely hostile towards her. Lydia ultimately decides to forgive her after she risks her life to protect Caw from the Mother of Flies.
    • The White Widow's Revenge shows that Selina is still regarded with contempt by the other ferals for her role in their capture by the Mother of Flies, though the ending implies they may be warming up to her.
  • The Runaway: Subverted. Selina claims to have run away from home, but it's later revealed she was lying and had been sent by Cynthia to find Caw and uncover the ferals' base of operations.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • In The Crow Talker, Caw is offered one by the Spinning Man—use the Crow's Beak to return him, the Spinning Man and Lydia to the Land of the Living, where the Spinning Man will unleash his reign of terror onto Blackstone, or remain in the Land of the Dead to be tortured eternally by the Spinning Man's spiders.
    • In The Swarm Descends, Cynthia Davenport, aka the Mother of Flies, captures the majority of the good ferals and has them imprisoned, and offers Caw a choice—hand over the Midnight Stone, or she'll kill all of the captive ferals.
  • Shattered Sanity: Following the events of The Swarm Descends, Cynthia Davenport is reduced to a gibbering, broken shell of her former self, suffering from dementia and hallucinations.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Snakes are controlled by the snake feral Mamba and are a recurring threat to Caw and his friends.
  • Speaks Fluent Animal: Ferals have this ability.
  • Spider Swarm: The Spinning Man can summon these at will, often using them to torment or kill his enemies.
  • The Swarm: The Mother of Flies can summon millions of flies at will, and can even transform into a swarm herself.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: In The White Widow's Revenge, Caw can't help but feel sorrow for Cynthia Davenport after seeing the broken wreck the former Mother of Flies has been reduced to.
  • Synchronized Swarming: In the climax of The Swarm Descends, the Mother of Flies transforms into two-story tall giant made up of millions of flies in order to kill Caw.
  • Taking You with Me: In The Swarm Descends, Bootlace the worm feral drags one of Cynthia's dragons, Pinkerton, with him while jumping through the portal to the Land of the Dead.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: In The Swarm Descends, Lydia is extremely reluctant to ally with Selina due to her unwittingly getting the other ferals, including her parents, captured by the Mother of Flies, and bickers and snaps at her constantly.
  • Terrible Trio: The Crow Talker has the Spinning Man's followers, Jawbone, Mamba and Scuttle, who seek to bring their master Back from the Dead.
  • Transformation of the Possessed: Selina Davenport, while possessed by the Spinning Man, gains white hair, pale skin, and spider-like features.
  • Two Girls and a Guy: Lydia, Selina and Caw.
  • The Unfettered: The Mother of Flies only cares about acquiring the Midnight Stone and using its power to take over Blackstone for the flies, to the point that she disregards the safety of her daughter and even tries to kill her when she gets in her way.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Selina is used as one by Cynthia for the first half of The Swarm Descends, being used as The Mole to gain Caw's trust and lead her to the ferals' hideout where Cynthia can successfully capture them all, while convincing Selina that she's helping the police take down a crime racket.
  • Was Too Hard on Her: Though she doesn't outright say it, Velma appears to acknowledge this regarding Selina after her constant threats towards her causes Selina, in a moment of panic, to give away the group to the Mother of Flies. Noticeably, she appears to make an effort to be less aggressive when Selina rejoins them (though she does warn her that if she betrays them again, she won't hesitate to kill her).
  • White Hair, Black Heart: While possessed by the Spinning Man, Selina's hair turns white.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Bootlace the worm feral has lived for centuries and is incapable of dying by normal means, and finds his immortality lonely and tormenting. So much so that when he learns that Caw has the means to send him to the Land of the Dead via the Crow's Beak, he immediately agrees to give Caw the knowledge he seeks in exchange for death.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The villains do not hesitate to try and kill the child protagonists throughout the series.
  • You Killed My Father: Caw's parents were murdered by the Spinning Man during the Dark Summer.
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