Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto- ARC Review

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You are a daughter of queens.

The world is balanced on the edge of a knife, and war is almost certain between the empire and the Phoenix Riders.

Like Nefyra before you, your life will be a trial by fire.

Veronyka finally got her wish to join the Riders, but while she’s supposed to be in training, all she really wants to do is fly out to defend the villages of Pyra from the advancing empire. Tristan has been promoted to Master Rider, but he has very different ideas about the best way to protect their people than his father, the commander. Sev has been sent to spy on the empire, but maintaining his cover may force him to fight on the wrong side of the war. And Veronyka’s sister, Val, is determined to regain the empire she lost—even if it means inciting the war herself.

Such is your inheritance. A name. A legacy. An empire in ruin.

As tensions reach a boiling point, the characters all find themselves drawn together into a fight that will shape the course of the empire—and determine the future of the Phoenix Riders. Each must decide how far they’re willing to go—and what they’re willing to lose in the process.

I pray you are able to pass through the flames. (Taken from Amazon)

Thank you Netgalley for providing me with this book in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available on February 11th, 2020.

Be aware: this is a sequel, so there will be spoilers for book one (Crown of Feathers). You can read my review for that book here.

*** Spoilers for Crown of Feathers Below ***

I was angry when I finished this book. I would have slammed it shut if I hadn’t been reading an ebook version. I’m going to try to explain why, but first let me remind you all that the things I dislike about a book might be the very things that you love. As Levar Burton says, “You don’t have to take my word for it.” So, deep breath: I’m about to dive in.

This book suffered horribly from Sequel Syndrome. You know, when the first book in a series is incredible, but the second book just falls flat. It’s possible for this series to regain its footing in the next installment, but this one was just bad.

First of all, all the characters acted in ways that made no sense for who they were. Commander Cassian, who showed determination, stoicism, and intelligence in Crown of Feathers, made the most ill-conceived and stupid move possible in this book. It made zero sense both from a characteristic standpoint, and a story standpoint. And he wasn’t the only one who acted contrary to how he was written in the first book.

Tristan and Veronyka entered into the dreaded angst-ridden relationship. I was so bummed about this! It could have added a really interesting facet to the interactions of the Phoenix Riders. Unfortunately, it just became annoying.

What bothered me more than even that, though, was Veronyka’s 180-degree turn. In Crown of Feathers, she was fierce, determined, and had a strong moral compass. She worked so hard to become a Phoenix Rider in the hope of joining a patrol. In this book, she was wishy-washy, threw all her hard work away for no reason, and dragged Tristan down with her. She basically snapped her fingers and he came running, leaving all his fellow Riders in the lurch.

Another odd choice that was made was how things were revealed. Often, Val’s internal dialogue would explain something to the reader, only to have it explained again at length to another character a chapter or two later. I understand that characters need to be given information in some way, but why explain it twice? Just reveal it to the reader as it’s revealed to the character. The amount of reiteration in this book was a bit much.

Okay, moving on to the things I did like.

Sparrow and Elliot were fantastic. Neither of them was in the book much, but they shone in every scene they were in. I love Sparrow in general. She’s such a wild-child, but wise beyond her years. In some ways, she reminds me of Luna Lovegood. I also liked Elliot’s desire to redeem himself after the events in book one.

I liked that the other Phoenix Riders were as annoyed by Tristan and Veronyka’s shenanigans as I was. I felt so bad for them in this book. They were completely messed over by Tristan’s lack of maturity.

I loved the phoenixes, of course. I’ve read a lot of fantasy lately that is bereft of fantastical beings, so I love seeing them making at least a bit of a return. I also liked that each of them had their own personalities.

Nicki Pau Preto knows how to turn a phrase. She’s a talented author, but I feel that she got in her own way with this book. I’m not giving up on the series. Rather, I’m hoping that the next book will return to the strengths that made me love Crown of Feathers.

4 thoughts on “Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto- ARC Review

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