Hello Humans! What do we think of Phoenixes (is that the plural? – a cursory google suggests it could be that or just ‘Phoenix’). Are we fans? Well if you are then I think you’ll enjoy today’s review as there are Phoenix galore. No, I don’t like that at all, I’m going to use Phoenixes. This book explores sibling relationships, male privilege and more – should be a recipe for success – how did it go?
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.
This book. I really don’t know where to begin. Because on the one hand, this book is quite ‘YA’. I know that sounds like an obvious statement but let me explain what I mean. You know those books where you feel like you can predict what’s going to happen from the off because it’s so trope-y? Those books that feel like a number of other YA novels? Yeah…half of the time this book feels like that. The other half of the time it punches you in the face with the unexpected. It’s very weird. I felt like I predicted all of the major plot points but everything in between came out of nowhere. I know that some people prefer a book to be predictable, while others like to be surprised – so maybe this book is a happy medium?
I think I could have done with the worldbuilding and the history being a little more explicit, it mostly comes in drips and dregs in between chapters – which sometimes is hugely effective as it means you find out crucial information as and when you need it, but I did get a little bit lost at various moments and some stronger background would have been good.
My biggest problem with this book is actually a minor issue that I think stuck with me just because it was so incongruous. There are a couple of moments in the story where characters use words that are just completely inappropriate – I don’t mean swearing. The example of this I remember most strongly is one character using the word ‘stuff’. It came out of nowhere and it was incredibly jarring. It’s entirely possible that won’t have made it into the final edit but it’s quite telling how important these things are if it left such a lasting impression.
It’s been a while since I read such a nasty sibling relationship – I feel like the trend has drifted more towards friendly relationships between sisters and, as ever, it’s quite refreshing to read the opposite. Since a lot of the other relationships in this book follow more established patterns (fans of the ‘I didn’t realise you were a girl and was struggling with my feelings’ will be pleased with this one) it was nice to explore a more difficult – rather toxic relationship.
One thing I think this book lacks is good provision for LGBTQIA+ characters. It has the issue of ‘I have set up the idea that Phoenix riders fall in love and then the phoenixes do too – but what about the gay Phoenix riders? These are not problems I would have ever seen myself caring about – but here we are.
Overall I had fun with this book, it’s a good, fast-paced fantasy novel that does some new things alongside the familiar. As far as I’m aware there is a second book planned in this series and I will certainly be reading it at some stage!
My rating: 3/5 stars
I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Crown of Feathers is out on April 25th!
What say you? Will you be reading Crown of Feathers? Let me know in the comments below!