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Phoenix Flame by Sara Holland – Book Review!

Goodreads Synopsis.

After saving the inn at Havenfall from the wicked Silver Prince, Maddie thought all her problems were over. The Silver Prince has been banished, her uncle the beloved Innkeeper is slowly recovering from a mysterious coma, and there are still a few weeks of summer left to spend with her handsome more-than-just-a-friend Brekken.

But danger still looms and Maddie soon realises there’s more work to be done to protect Havenfall, the safe haven between worlds that her family has run for centuries. Maddie must embark on a dangerous mission: to venture into the icy Realm of Fiordenkill and put an end to the black market trading of souls that threatens the balance of the Realms.

As Maddie tries to accomplish these seemingly impossible tasks, she stumbles upon family secrets that could change everything. What if saving everyone means destroying the only home she’s ever known?

My Review.

Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for the free review copy. I can confirm all thoughts ans opinions are my own.

I remember enjoying Havenfall when I read it last year so was excited when I was accepted for the sequel ‘Phoenix Flame’ on Netgalley. Unfortunately the sequel did not live up to its predecessor, and while there were parts that I enjoyed, the second book in the duology fell a little flat for me. Please note this review will contain spoilers for book one.

After the events in Havenfall over the summer Maddie assumed that life would start getting easier. With her Uncle slowly recovering, Brekken back and their romance reignited and the signing of the treaty recognising Solaria and it’s inhabitants she is hoping for a slow end to the summer. But she can’t get the sight of that soul traders basement out of her head and the more she thinks about it, the more she realises she has to do something to stop it happening. After finding out a secret about her mother, one that she has done her best to keep hidden, Maddie must travel to the icy realm of Fiordenkill and find the people behind the soul trade, but once there she finds something even more shocking. Loyalties will be tested, secrets will come out into the open, and some people thought lost will make a surprising return, but before the end Maddie will have to decide where her loyalty truly lies.

If you know me then you know that all a book has to have is a great group of characters for me to fall in love, and whilst I enjoyed the characters in book one, in Phoenix Flame they came across different. This is Maddie’s story, and while in book one you could let her off for being in over her head, a little indecisive, not really knowing who to trust, I just found her a little annoying in this book. She made some silly decisions, and was rather flaky. I really found myself struggling to resonate with her as a character and ended up more than once with my head in my hands at her decision making. With one exception we keep the same character pool from book one, though some that played a larger part in Havenfall take a bit of a back burner in this book.

One thing I do love about these books is the authors descriptive writing, the plot of this book is much more action packed than book one, which made for a significantly quicker read. We also get to travel to one of the other realms and it was easy to imagine the setting the characters were in. Holland also gives us a really good recap of the events of book one over the first few chapters which helped me so much! Honestly this is something that more authors need to do because sometimes I simply don’t have the time to re-read the previous book.

A lot of things that were built up in book one never really came to fruition in this one. It’s almost like the ending was a little rushed and the author just went for the most important parts to add in. There were far too many plot holes left open ended, in fact I really don’t think that the main part of the book was ever properly resolved, and a large part of the romance, a love triangle, was also just kind of ignored at the end. If I didn’t know better I would think that it was meant to be a trilogy rather than a duology.

I really really think that if this series was written as a trilogy it would have been so much better. At 320 pages this is a very quick read, but one that really didn’t grasp me at all. If I hand’t read and enjoyed book one I would have seriously considered DNF’ing, but I just kept hoping that things would get better. 2.75/5 stars because there were some parts of the book I enjoyed, especially the authors writing style and descriptive writing, but I just couldn’t resonate with the characters or story at all.

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