Book Reviews

Review: The Phoenix Keeper by S.A. MacLean

The Phoenix Keeper is the coziest fantasy. It’s about Aila who just loves her animals and wants to protect her endangered phoenixes. If you’ve ever loved a passionate character who sometimes gets lost in it, this is for you! Keep reading this book review of The Phoenix Keeper for my full thoughts.


As head phoenix keeper at a world-renowned zoo for magical creatures, Aila’s childhood dream of conserving critically endangered firebirds seems closer than ever. There’s just one glaring caveat: her zoo’s breeding program hasn’t functioned for a decade. When a tragic phoenix heist sabotages the flagship initiative at a neighboring zoo, Aila must prove her derelict facilities are fit to take the reins.

But saving an entire species from extinction requires more than stellar animal handling skills. Carnivorous water horses, tempestuous thunderhawks, mischievous dragons… Aila has no problem wrangling beasts. But mustering the courage to ask for help from the hotshot griffin keeper at the zoo’s most popular exhibit? Virtually impossible.

Especially when that hotshot griffin keeper happens to be her arch-rival from college: Luciana, an annoyingly brooding and insufferable know-it-all with the face of a goddess who’s convinced that Aila’s beloved phoenix would serve their cause better as an active performer rather than as a passive conservation exhibit. With the world watching and the threat of poachers looming, Aila’s success is no longer merely a matter of keeping her job…

She is the keeper of the phoenix, and the future of a species – and her love life – now rests on her shoulders.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

The Phoenix Keeper is the best hug. Not only does it feature a bisexual main character, queer romance, and zookeeping, but it’s a slow burn romance full of angst and pining. I fell in love with Aila. With how much passion she has for phoenixes, how she doesn’t understand why people would need reasons to love and want to protect animals. It’s so pure and reminds you of the things we love unconditionally, see the magic in them.

Yet at the same time, I loved how Aila sometimes has to see the bigger picture, to realize when we aren’t being a good friend. We can be so involved in what we are doing, our own passion, the good we can do, that we can’t see around us. The people who have supported us, who love us, and the bigger mission. It’s one thing to know that people shouldn’t need reasons to care about conversation, but another to know that sometimes we need to showcase what animals can do. To infuse passion and inspire.

(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information you can look at the Policy page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, know you can look up the book on any of the sites below to avoid the link)

If you love the idea of a cozy fantasy with a charming romance, The Phoenix Keeper is for you. Speaking of characters, I also loved how Aila has to figure out when we have been wrong about people. Aila has to realize when something is going against our instinct, people who only want us to do what they want, and those who deserve us to change our mind. Find The Phoenix Keeper on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, Blackwells, & Libro. fm.


What is your favorite magical creature?

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