Book Reviews

Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers, #2) by Nicki Pau Preto

Heart of FlamesTitle: Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers, #2)
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Rating: ★★★★

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev must stop the advancing empire from destroying the Phoenix Riders in this fiery sequel to Crown of Feathers, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake calls “absolutely unforgettable!”

You are a daughter of queens.

The world is balanced on the edge of a knife, and war is almost certain between the empire and the Phoenix Riders.

Like Nefyra before you, your life will be a trial by fire.

Veronyka finally got her wish to join the Riders, but while she’s supposed to be in training, all she really wants to do is fly out to defend the villages of Pyra from the advancing empire. Tristan has been promoted to Master Rider, but he has very different ideas about the best way to protect their people than his father, the commander. Sev has been sent to spy on the empire, but maintaining his cover may force him to fight on the wrong side of the war. And Veronyka’s sister, Val, is determined to regain the empire she lost—even if it means inciting the war herself.

Such is your inheritance. A name. A legacy. An empire in ruin.

As tensions reach a boiling point, the characters all find themselves drawn together into a fight that will shape the course of the empire—and determine the future of the Phoenix Riders. Each must decide how far they’re willing to go—and what they’re willing to lose in the process.

I pray you are able to pass through the flames.

In the ending of the last novel of the series, we find out some crazy stuff. Betrayal, phoenixes on fire, and magic are only the beginning of the world of Crown of Feathers.

Following three characters with completely different upbringings, Heart of Flames brings readers three additional characters perspectives to follow on the journey. Tensions are high, everything is at stake, and everyone will stop at nothing to secure their future. The author does a great job of developing the characters, and I mean a tremendous job. We find what makes them tick, their weaknesses, and their strengths through times of stress.

Who could not like Veronyka? While there are time she goes all Harry Potter on me, does what she pleases, and bears no consequences, we see that she is flawed. She is so passionate about her mission, that she, too, gets carried away and starts acting more like Avalkyra without even knowing it.

While I initially found Sev’s point-of-view to be on the boring side, that eventually blossomed into the more romantic and reliable aspect for me. The introduction of more characters perspectives into the mix helped readers to understand all sides of the feud.

Readers who love a fast-paced, hopeful, and profoundly developed characters will love Heart of Flames.

Nicki Pau Preto introduces readers to a vibrant land infused with magic, friendship, love, and resilience.

See my review for Crown of Feathers here.

Book Reviews

Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers, #1) by Nicki Pau Preto

Crown of FeathersTitle: Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers, #1)
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Rating: ★★★★★

“Absolutely unforgettable.” —Kendare Blake, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Three Dark Crowns series
“A beautifully told story about justice, sisterhood, and warrior women.” —Shea Ernshaw, New York Times bestselling author of The Wicked Deep
“Epic in the truest sense.” —Quill and Quire

An Ember in the Ashes meets Three Dark Crowns in this lush debut fantasy novel about a girl who disguises herself as a boy to join a secret group of warriors that ride phoenixes into battle.

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.

Crown of Feathers is an epic fantasy about love’s incredible power to save—or to destroy. Interspersed throughout is the story of Avalkyra Ashfire, the last Rider queen, who would rather see her empire burn than fall into her sister’s hands.

Crown of Feathers is a story of animages (people who can communicate and control animals) suppressed by their government. Anyone caught practicing magic is subject to life as a slave or conscript (if you’re lucky).

Growing up, Veronyka had been told many stories about phoenix riders by her maiora, or grandmother. Always feeling like her purpose was to become one of these mysterious beings, Veronyka decides to embark on a country to find the hidden land harboring the phoenix riders after her sister Val poisons her young phoenix.

I had a sister once. If I had known then what I know now, I might have chosen not to love her. But is love ever truly a choice?

Putting out those Mulan vibes, “Nyk” dresses like a man in order to have the chance to become a potential phoenix rider apprentice. Using only males, both apprentices and phoenixes, Nyk hopes to ensure her spot as a potential apprentice. Working as a stableboy to earn his keep and be near the phoenixes, Nyk becomes friends with the commander’s son, and helps him overcome his fear of fire.

As things start to take a direction toward the better for Veronyka, Val shows up. Soon after, a war begins…animage vs. soldiers.

That’s the thing with secrets. They never really die. Just when one bursts into flames, another rises up to take its place.

Told from the perspective of three different characters with entirely different upbringings, we learn just how connected each character is with each other. I loved the aspect of the letters between the two ancient queens Avalkyra and Pheronica. They interwove seamlessly into the story and provided history of the prior magic war.

Crown of Feathers is a colorful story of magic, firey phoenixes, and the premise that blood is not always thicker than water.