Review: Phoenix Flame by Sara Holland

Phoenix Flame by Sara Holland

Phoenix Flame
Sara Holland
Bloomsbury USA
Published March 2, 2021

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | Indiebound | Goodreads

About Phoenix Flame

Maddie thought her problems were over. She saved the Inn at Havenfall—a sanctuary between magical worlds—from the evil Silver Prince. Her uncle the Innkeeper is recovering from a mysterious spell that left him not quite human. And there are still a few weeks of summer left to spend with her more-than-friend Brekken.
But there’s more work to be done to protect the Inn—Maddie must put an end to the black-market trading of magical objects and open the Inn’s doors to the once feared land of shapeshifters.

As she tries to accomplish both seemingly impossible tasks, Maddie uncovers secrets that could change everything. What if saving everyone means destroying the only home she’s known?

This next breathtaking fantasy from the bestselling author of EVERLESS is perfect for fans of Melissa Albert and Holly Black.

Phoenix Flame on Goodreads

My Review

NOTE: I’m really conflicted about promoting this book. On the one hand, I don’t want to harm the author or publisher, but there are serious allegations of racist behavior by Glasstown, and I’m uncomfortable promoting a book or series which benefits them at this time, even though a publisher and author I like are involved.

I think my favorite thing about this book is the plot about stopping a magical form of trafficking. Powerful people have been kidnapping magic-bearers of a certain race and forcing pieces of their souls to bind with objects, creating soul-silver. The practice literally destroys a person. Maddie and her friends have vowed to take down the trade and bring the perpetrators to justice.

From there it gets a little complicated. A couple times, Maddie and her friends use soul-silver, justifying it as a necessary step in their plans. It felt… icky. To me. I don’t know. Like, continuing to abuse someone because the end justified the means. The person whose soul was trapped in the silver had no choice, and the piece of their soul is lost when the magic is used. Which could prevent the person from being rescued, because too many pieces of their soul are missing or used.

I thought the tug of war between Maddie and her feelings for Brekken and Taya added some tension and interest. I couldn’t decide which I wanted her to choose. Until a thing happens– basically Brekken takes responsibility for something while Maddie’s like, yeah, but can’t we just not take responsibility?? And I get that she worried about the consequences, but it felt like another selfish choice, and made me feel like she kinda doesn’t deserve Brekken.

I feel like I’ve listed a lot of the things I struggled with in this book. To be honest, I still read it really quickly and enjoyed a lot of things about it. I liked the politics between the different worlds and Maddie’s complicated relationship with her mom. I like that Maddie never gives up.

If you enjoyed HAVENFALL, it’s worth reading PHOENIX FLAME to see how things resolve. The series is under contract for development with Amazon Studios, so it’s possible you’ll get to see it come to life on screen, too.

Phoenix Flame on Amazon

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Maddie has romantic feelings for a boy and a girl. She and her family are white. Other characters are from fictional realms.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used about half a dozen times.

Romance/Sexual Content
Kissing between boy and girl.

Spiritual Content
Black market sellers trade objects that have pieces of souls in them, giving them magical properties.

Violent Content
Maddie’s mom is on death row following her conviction of killing her son (Maddie’s brother). Some situations of peril. Some brief battles.

Drug Content
At a ball at the inn, Maddie hands out wine laced with truth serum. One reference to a practice at the inn where they offer wine that causes someone to forget what’s happened before that person leaves the inn, in order to protect the secrets of the inn.

Note: I received a free copy of PHOENIX FLAME in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support this blog.

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About Kasey

Reads things. Writes things. Fluent in sarcasm. Willful optimist. Cat companion, chocolate connoisseur, coffee drinker. There are some who call me Mom.

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