★ ★ ★
Authors: Nicki Pau Preto
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Format/Source: Netgalley ARC
Goodreads, Indiebound, Amazon, Book Depository
From GoodReads: I had a sister, once… In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.
I promised her the throne would not come between us.
Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.
But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed.
Rule or be ruled.
Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.
Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.
HERE’S WHAT I THINK…
The pacing was AWFUL. I really wanted to love this story. It has everything that I love, sisters battling it out, magical creatures, and girls rebelling. But it fell flat, largely because of the pacing. The beginning of the book felt like nothing but an info dump, which really should have been scattered throughout the story. I understood that the things discussed were important, so I trudged through it – but really that info could have been spread out to make the beginning seem less like a history lesson and more like the start of an epic adventure. It really interrupted the flow of the story, to the point were I put the book down several times. I usually am able to finish a book fairly quickly, but this one — I struggled with all the way through.
There were so many points of view in this story that it really bothered me that we did not get Val’s point of view, especially given the initial betrayal involving the phoenix. It seemed like an awful waste to not get into Val’s head and truly understand why she is doing the things she is doing.
Some of Sev’s chapters were convoluted and didn’t make much sense. They messed with the over all flow of the story as well, unfortunately.
It wasn’t all bad though! There were a lot of things I enjoyed about the book.
I really loved that the author included such a diverse cast, from gender bending to non hetero relationships, this book had something for everyone when it came to being able to identify with a character.
The magical creatures were AMAZING! I was skeptical but the author did justice for them in that sense. The first time the Phoenix died, I was aghast — until I remembered it was a phoenix and it would be back. After that, it wasn’t that upsetting when things happened.
The dynamic between Val and Veronyka was believable and thrilling. There is something about the love and hatred of sisters that lends these tropes to create devastatingly real relationships between them.
I really wanted to love this book, it had everything I swoon for: sisters, magic, animals, but over all it was a let down. Perhaps, if the info dumping hadn’t been so evident I would have felt differently. The pacing of the book was too slow for me as well, with the bulk of the action happening at towards the end of the book.
Overall, I gave this book at 3 STAR rating. I will probably pick up the next one, just because I want to know what happens.
Great concept, but too much info dumping! The POVs detracted from the over all story. Pacing was off, but the story itself was interesting enough that I have committed to reading the next one.
3 Star read.
About the Author:
Nicki is a YA fantasy author living just outside Toronto, Canada. After getting a degree in visual arts, a masters in art history, and a diploma in graphic design, Nicki discovered two things: she loves to escape the real world, and she isn’t interested in a regular 9-5 life. Luckily, her chosen career covers both.
Her YA fantasy debut CROWN OF FEATHERS is coming February 12, 2019 from Simon Pulse.