To be honest, I was not prepared for Phoenix Flame. I thought I had a few ideas by the end of Havenfall, and while I was right about some of them, some others I was not expecting at all. One of these elements was the way that Holland begins to discuss how difficult it is to process trauma and family. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.
Maddie thought her problems were over. She saved the Inn at Havenfall—a sanctuary between magical worlds—from the evil Silver Prince. Her uncle the Innkeeper is recovering from a mysterious spell that left him not quite human. And there are still a few weeks of summer left to spend with her more-than-friend Brekken.
But there’s more work to be done to protect the Inn—Maddie must put an end to the black-market trading of magical objects and open the Inn’s doors to the once feared land of shapeshifters.
As she tries to accomplish both seemingly impossible tasks, Maddie uncovers secrets that could change everything. What if saving everyone means destroying the only home she’s known?
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Not going to lie, I only realized at the end of this book that this whole duology happens in one summer. Can you imagine all the ways your life could change in a summer and how much it changes for Maddie? I just had to stop for a minute. At the core of Phoenix Flame is the exploration and what family means and if we are deserving of second chances. Phoenix Flame had all these elements I love – like family, exploring of other worlds, and secrets – I just was craving a bit more depth. I thoroughly enjoyed when Holland brought up conversations about trauma, second chances and betrayal, and the exploration of other worlds.
Yet, when there wasn’t as much resolution as I was searching for in the end, I was a bit disappointed. Maddie is faced with the problems of the peace summit (and maintaining it), the soul trade, her missing brother, and so much more. So what exactly can she do, and what should she tackle first? Phoenix Flame has so many strands of action which Holland is able to wrap up, but I just wish there had been a little more space devoted to each issue. It was one of those endings where I thought, “okay I now have answers, but I wish there was some more time for introspection and conversation”.
As I mentioned earlier, there were some elements I definitely predicted, but that didn’t hinder my enjoyment. Maddie has to figure out the value of sacrifice. Is one life worth peace? Security? Safety? One of the sources of my disappointment I can’t really talk about without spoilering, but if this series, or certain side characters, were ever explored further I would definitely be interested. All the ways in which the scars of trauma is not only on our skin, but within us. People can be sources of weakness in our armor, relationships that can be used against us. But, we must always remember that they can also strengthen us, make us brave. Phoenix Flame looks at sacrifice and consequences. The worth of duty, honor, and accountability.
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