Haven unexpectedly ascends to the throne of her kingdom after her family members are killed by a ruthless queen. As neighboring kingdoms fall to the evil queen Kadia’s attacks, Haven realizes she must rally her few remaining allies and help her people escape the coming destruction. But Kadia wants more than just the land and power. She has her sights set on Haven herself, and the power of the mysterious gift Haven possesses. When Haven learns that others have inexplicable abilities, she realizes she’ll have to find them, for only together can they stop Kadia.
Haven definitely had some great Girl Power moments. I loved that her personal guards were fierce women, and that later, she earns the allegiance of other fierce female warriors. I love that she took her ability to heal, which doesn’t seem much like a warrior-gift, and turned that into a huge asset for herself as a fighter. She wasn’t afraid to step out and face her enemies head-on. I had to admire that about her.
I struggled a bit with some of the plot elements. Sometimes Haven would make these decisions that left me scratching my head or feeling frustrated because they didn’t seem to make a lot of logical sense, or the reactions of her companions didn’t seem to make a lot of sense. At one point she learns a critical ally has been working with the evil queen. Instead of outing him, she keeps his betrayal a secret because she feels afraid the other allies will kill him if they find out.
I kept thinking about the giant risk to security and her people that he continued to pose as someone who’d already betrayed them once. She didn’t seem at all concerned about the possibility that he might betray her again, or honestly all that affected by his betrayal which cost many lives and gave her enemy control of a lot of additional resources. At one point she vehemently opposes sending her own troops to fight Kadia, and soon after, she becomes upset that a neighboring king refuses to send his troops to her aid. I totally get that circumstances had changed, but I wanted her to at least stop and reflect, like, oh, that’s how it feels to wear this shoe, and I didn’t feel like I got to have that moment.
Ultimately, her love for her people definitely made her a character I could sympathize with. I totally rooted for her to take down Kadia, and I loved that she found an unexpected ally– I thought the way the final battle went down was really engaging and cool.
I think readers who enjoyed The Key by Jennifer Anne Davis would really like Haven. It’s got a lot of great girl power moments and a big fantasy setting, and an ultimately enjoyable romantic arc.
Feels like a pretty Western European-type cast of characters. Culturally it felt pretty homogenous across various kingdoms.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Romance/Sexual Content – Trigger Warning
A man professes his love and forces kisses on the girl he loves. An evil queen commands a man to rape a captor. He pins her down, she struggles. It’s pretty intense. Later, a male soldier is caught beginning to assault a female soldier. The attacker states that this is the way things are done (ie, the way prisoners are treated). Others free the woman and other prisoners, but obviously lots of damage has already been done.
Brief kisses between a (willing) man and woman.
Even though the descriptions of the assaults were brief and included intent to rape without actually showing rape, I struggled with them. I think it was just the fact that it came up more than once—which I get from a plot perspective. The first attack gives the character reason to be that much more upset by the second situation.
Also, part of the healing afterward includes sharing the experience with a twelve year old girl who has special abilities to bring mental healing. As the parent of a kid about that age, I had a really tough time with that idea. I wished that character had been older. Not a lot of story time was devoted to that process, though.
The evil queen Kadia uses shadows to fight her enemies. She can also sense others with gifts like Haven’s ability to heal. Kadia can also paint the future, and at one point has guards strip a captor so she can pain the girl’s future on her body. It’s traumatic to the captor.
An assassin attacks Haven. She learns to fight, and at one point she injures herself in practice combat. She fights and slays enemies. Descriptions are brief.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.