Book Review: Crown of Feathers

crown of feathersCrown of Feathers
by Nicki Pau Preto
Young Adult/Fantasy
486 pages
Published February 2019

Okay first, just gaze at that cover for a little while. Just – wow. We get dragon riders all the time, but phoenix riders? That is new. AND AWESOME. I have been ridiculously excited about this book, and then I received it just as we were really gearing up to move. I have FINALLY gotten around to it, and man. I need the second one now. And it’s not due out until 2020!

The book tells the story of Veronyka, a war orphan who wants to be a phoenix rider, like her parents and grandmother. It is mostly told from her viewpoint, but we also get a few chapters from the point of view of Sev, an animage hiding in the Empire’s army, Tristan, another phoenix rider, and one or two from Veronyka’s sister, Val.

Animages are, as the name implies, mages whose magical power involves talking to animals and making them do their bidding. All phoenix riders are animages; not all animages are phoenix riders. But the empire has outlawed animages anyway, unless they pay a heavy tax. If you’re found to have evaded the tax, you get enslaved as a bondservant until you pay off your unpaid taxes. Sev hid his magic and enlisted in the army to keep from being sold as a bondservant.

In between chapters of current events, we have letters and snippets from history books detailing the story of Avalkyra Ashfire, who was the last Rider Queen before the empire turned against the Riders.

The villain in this story is villainous indeed, but at the same time, I don’t -want- them to be villainous. I -want- them to be good, and noble, and I can see why they’ve done what they’ve done and – I HAVE FEELINGS. I don’t LIKE the villain. They’re quite unlikable. I kinda feel like Obi Wan here. YOU WERE THE CHOSEN ONE. We all had so much FAITH in you. So it feels like a betrayal. And I just – I want to be wrong. I want the villain to do the right thing in the second book and no longer be a villain, but I don’t know how exactly that would happen. I’m holding out hope though.

This book is good. I’m not putting it in my best of 2019 because I’m so torn on the villain. But it’s very good. I am eager to see where the story goes from here.

From the cover of Crown of Feathers:

I HAD A SISTER ONCE . . . 

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was build upon the backs of Phoenix Riders – legendary warriors 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 like the heroes 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 GIVE. 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 have it fall into her sister’s hands. 

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