Book: Crown of Feathers
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Year Published: 2019
- Plot: 4.5/5
- Characters: 4.5/5
- Writing: 5/5
- Overall: 5 feather-crowned stars!
When I realised that this book was not only about phoenixes but also phoenix riders I knew I had to read it. I probably love phoenixes just as much (or maybe even more) than I love dragons and I really hoped this book would do these ferocious, fiery creatures justice. It sure did. It probably increased my love for phoenixes tenfold. If I could, I would definitely become a phoenix rider without hesitation.
“Like poetry on wings, soaring through ash and flame”
Crown of Feathers told the tale of a people still recovering from the aftermath of a brutal war and trying to live in peace in the face of oppression and discrimination.
Apart from the phoenixes, I loved the world building and the history of the novel. It was clear that the author took her time to fully flesh out her world and all that happened in it. I’ve seen other people complaining about there being too much info-dumping in the book which ruined their reading experience, however, I actually liked it. It didn’t feel like info-dumping to me because the extra information was relavant to the story line and was actually really intriguing.
The plot was quite slow-paced and character-focused which was interesting but some parts felt a bit unnecessary and could have easily been taken out. The book was from three character perspectives which I think was handled pretty well.
“I am a daughter of death….From the ashes I rose, like a phoenix from the pyre”
16 years before the start of the book there was the Blood War between two sisters: Avalkyra and Pheronia. Avalkyra was an animage and a phoenix rider. After the war, animages were feared by the Empire and any known animages had to pay a tax or become a debt-bonded slave.
☆ Veronyka was an animage who lived in hiding with her sister Val. Val’s love for Veronyka was twisted and she showed it by controlling her life and never allowing her to settle in any place or form long lasting friendships with anyone- all apparently for Veronyka’s own good. After having been betrayed by Val, Veronyka left her to join a group of phoenix riders. However, there was one problem: they only accepted boys and men. Therefore, Veronyka disguised herself as a boy to gain entry and fulfill her greatest wish of becoming a rider.
I liked Veronyka- she was definitely my favourite character and the POV character I connected the most with. She was brave and strong without hurting or controlling people, she was compassionate and would never force an animal to do something for her, she would just kindly request. Despite everything that had happened, she was always full of hope that the future would hold better things and her determination to make that future happen knew no bounds. Out of all of the POVs, she seemed to get the most, ‘screen time’ which was good because her story was fascinating but it also would have been good to give the other two perspectives more time to develop.
“Some families you were born into. Others you made along the way.”
☆ Tristan was an animage and an apprentice phoenix rider who was the son of the commander of the phoenix riders. He never felt like he was good enough for his father because no matter how well he did his father would always pick out the one thing he had done wrong and make him suffer for it. I thought he was a kind and understanding character. He valued honesty and tried his best to change the things he thought were wrong. However, he was the POV character I felt the most distant from and it was harder for me to empathise with his emotions in comparison to the other characters. Also, I feel like his relationship with his phoenix could have been portrayed better.
☆ Sev was an animage in hiding who was a soldier for the empire. His parents were phoenix riders who had died in an attack when he was young and ever since that tragic event, Sev spent his life running away from who he was and living in fear. He buried his animage identity deep in favour of living in peace and out of slavery while his fellow animages suffered. During the book, his character develops so much and he realises the importance of having people he belonged with and people he would do anything to protect. He realised that instead of hiding his identity he should embrace it and use it to help others like him. I found him to be a really interesting character and I wish we got to see his perspective more in the book. Also, his relationship with Kade was so briefly mentioned and never got time to develop which is something I hope happens in the next book.
I know this book wasn’t perfect in every way but I enjoyed reading it so, so much. What really differentiates a four star book from a five star book for me is the emotions it evokes from me. Whilst I was reading it, every plot twist shocked me to the core (there were so many and I didn’t predict some of them!) and I felt the pain, sorrow, happiness and anger of the characters as if it were my own. Crown of Feathers was a truly magical read for me and deserves five fiery, feather-crowned stars!
Thank you to Black & White Publishing and Nicki Pau Preto for providing me with a digital arc of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.
The quotes I used are from an arc of the book and may change upon publication.
If you’re a fellow phoenix/ dragon fan, let me know in the comments!