‘When Among Crows’ Book Ending Explained – Who cursed Ala and her family?

when among crows

When Among Crows Plot Summary

When Among Crows is a novella by Veronica Roth of Divergent fame. A blend of Slavic folklore and the Chicago underbelly, this is a short book that is fast-paced, full of action and angst. In a world of monsters, the Knights of the Holy Order are tasked to get rid of them.

However, the human Dymitr has other plans as he hopes to cure Ala, a cursed zmora and enlist Baba Jaga’s help to take down a Knight. On the way, he and Ala run into Niko, a strzygoń, and the trio end up on a swift path full of dangers and betrayals.

Why does Dymitr want to help Ala?

When Among Crows begins with Dymitr facing the leszy and the wraith, and getting his chest ripped out to get his hands on the magical fern that can cure any monster. Initially, he claims it is to help the zmora, Ala who has been cursed with hallucinations till she disintegrates. It then passes on to the next living relative.

In exchange, he needs her help in getting to Baba Jaga. It is later revealed that he and his family are responsible for her family’s death and the curse. He killed her cursed aunt as his first assignment as a Knight of the Holy Order.

However, he felt guilty and kept checking in with the aunt’s kid, Lena who was then cursed. Unfortunately, Dymitr’s sister, Elza ends up killing Lena which causes the curse to jump to her cousin, Ala. To make things right, he decides to help Ala get rid of the curse.

What does Dymitr want from Baba Jaga?

Dymitr tells his grandmother, the matriarch of the family that he is going to USA to find and kill Baba Jaga, the most powerful witch in the world. With her dead, it will be easy to get rid of all the monsters. But once he is in Chicago, he tells Ala and Niko that he wants Baba Jaga to unmake the Knight who brought suffering to Ala’s family. The creatures don’t question it as he only reveals that he was a good friend of Lena.

Finally, when the confrontation takes place, Dymitr tells Baba Jaga that the Knight he wants to take down is himself. With his family drilling into him that pain is penance and righteousness, he hopes to punish himself by getting Baba Jaga to strip him of his Knightly allegiance. This means she would destroy the Knight’s bone sword that is embedded in his spine. 

However, Niko and Ala convince him that he is a good man and he need not live in pain. Instead, they suggest turning him into a zmor to break his ties with the Holy Order and he complies. In exchange, he gives the bone sword which is a part of his soul to Baba Jaga. She suggests that he can buy it back but till then he is under her thumb. He doesn’t mind as we see him visiting the leszy in the end for target practice before embarking on a mission for Baba Jaga. 

Who cursed Ala and her family?

When Baba Jaga uses Dymitr to get rid of Ala’s curse, both are joined by blood which allows Ala to see his memories. In it, we see that Dymitr’s family are curse-bearers which allows them to curse monsters. Right before he was indoctrinated as a Knight, he and his grandmother, Joanna picked her next target – Lena’s mother.

While Dymitr sees her as an ordinary human going about buying her groceries, Joanna claims that it is just a disguise and all monsters are cruel. She curses Lena’s mother with the disintegrating curse that leads to all the events in the book.

What happens between Dymitr and Niko?

From the beginning of When Among Crows, Dymitr and Niko keep getting on each other’s nerves but there is also something that fascinates the both of them. When the strzygi betray Dymitr despite him offering his fingernail, Niko helps him and Ala escape. When they regroup at Sha’s hospice, Dymitr and Niko share a moment where the latter explains his duty to sacrifice himself by enacting vengeance on the Holy Order.

Dymitr sees himself in Niko as someone forced to give up his life for his family. Meanwhile, Niko is touched to see Dymitr offering his pain on behalf of Ala. They kiss but a distance forms when Niko claims he knows what Dymitr feels and the Knight recalls that he is lying to him about his true identity. Later, Dymitr saves Niko from Elza and ends up revealing his identity. Niko’s rage subsides when he learns the truth about Lena.

At Baba Jaga’s, when Dymitr goes about digging the bone sword from his spine, Niko is conflicted. Once Dymitr hesitates, the strzygoń jumps in. Together, Niko and Ala convince him that they don’t want him destroyed and come up with the idea to turn him into a zmor. Once Dymitr wakes up as a zmor, the two patch up when he realises that Niko was worried for him and is also now in awe of him.

You can check out more of our book reviews here!

Leave a comment