Phoenix Flame by Sara Holland is a half-baked, rushed fantasy that was just okay.
As sequel, it works fine, but don’t expect too much going in and you’ll all right.
I knew I wanted to read Phoenix Flame because I enjoyed Havenfall. And after rereading my review for Havenfall, I found myself nodding in agreement to many of the points I made before.
Holland didn’t learn from her mistakes in Book 1, and in fact the problems seem worsened in Phoenix Flame.
Phoenix Flame Review
As a story, and a plot, Phoenix Flame is good. Everything that happens is perfect and I have no complaints. Fans of the series will enjoy where Phoenix Flame takes them and the interesting twists that occur along the way.
The primary problem for is that the Havenfall series should have reasonably been a trilogy.
I don’t know what it is with publishers these days, but I’ve been seeing a rise in the duology. And they’re fine when done well, but readers want trilogies or longer.
Personally, I’m partial to the 4-5 book series. If I’m going to take the time to get to know characters and a world, I don’t want it to be over in just 2 books.
I hope publishers read this and wake up.
Phoenix Flame was rushed, and events that happen happen too quickly or too easily and they don’t give the reader or the characters time to process what’s happening.
I’m not saying that existing scenes should have been lengthened, but rather that we could have had a ton of additional scenes to build up to big reveals.
Phoenix Flame Summary
Phoenix Flame picks up with Havenfall left off, I think.
The peace summit from Havenfall is still going on, though I believe a few days have past.
There are still two weeks left of the summit and the entirety of Phoenix Flame takes place during that two week time period.
The Silver Prince has been defeated and sent back to his realm in Byrn. But the soul trade that Maddie uncovered in Havenfall (that is that Solarian souls were being locked away in silver and then traded) is still going.
Maddie’s goal, which is contradictory to what every other level-headed person in this story wants, is to ignore the wisdom of her elders and do her own thing to stop it.
Along the way Maddie ruins a fair bit, and even when her uncle, Marcus, is on board, she still sees the need to keep him in the dark about her plans.
The thing is, Marcus doesn’t ever even get upset at her.
Destroy an entire building and kill a bunch of people? Oh it’s okay, someone else will take the blame. Deceive her uncle and destroy parts of Havenfall while fighting the big bad enemy? Not a big deal!
Marcus actually apologizes for Maddie needing to feel like she had to deceive him. And she doesn’t get in trouble at all for what she did.
But probably the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard was Maddie’s willingness to sacrifice the lives of everyone, not only on earth, but in all the realms.
For what? All to save her mom who has been in jail for the last 15 years, was on death row, and made her peace with dying.
When everyone else tells her sacrificing her mother is for the greater good, she stands up and says “No! I won’t let you do this” then she storms out, and no one chases her. No one stops her. Over the next 3 days while she’s plotting, and some people know she’s plotting, no one confronts here.
They just let it happen. Some of them help.
Maddie gets this golden gauntlet that helps her not be sick in other realms. And she wears it around at a ball, like no one will notice.
And the author acts like its this hidden item no one can see. A gauntlet is a metal glove that’s big and bulky. It’s kind of hard to miss.
Then later when a character is wearing the gauntlet under what I can only assume is a hoody, and the hoody is hit with a fireball, exposing the skin, this metal gauntlet, A) doesn’t save the individual from being hurt and B) isn’t noticed at all by the enemy.
It’s a cool concept, but I’m not sure the author thought this through that well.
What I might be annoyed about most is that the author ends the book early, hinting at what might happen during a conversation that I feel would have been very exciting to witness.
She only needed to write another 2-3 pages to include it in the story. That’s it. I’m rather frustrated with that.
I would normally write about the things I like. And I don’t like writing negative reviews.
And for what it’s worth, I’m still giving this book a 3/5 stars.
But I struggled to come up with anything in here that I truly loved. It was a good book, plotholes and attitude aside. I read the whole thing in 3 days, which is really fast for me.
It was engaging and interesting. But the little niggles stuck with me and wouldn’t let go.
If you enjoyed Havenfall and want to see what happens, go for it. But if you were fine with how Book 1 ended and don’t care to read more, you won’t miss anything really.