Crown of Feathers – Nicki Pau Preto – Crown of Feathers #1 – Simon Pulse – Published 12 February 2019
In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.
Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.
Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.
Crown of Feathers is a thrilling first book in a new fantasy series. With detailed and complex world building, political history and intrigue, sisterly bonds that are stretched to the limit, diverse characters, threads of romance, and glorious, magnificent creatures, Crown of Feathers is sure to please fantasy fans.
Veronyka and her sister Val have spent the last few years desperately trying to survive, avoiding the Empire who threaten to enslave animages, and endlessly searching for elusive phoenix eggs so that they might bond with a hatchling and become Phoenix Riders. The Phoenix Riders of old were killed or sent into hiding during the Blood War, but Veronyka hopes there might be a few remaining Riders that she and her sister could join. But just when everything seems finally to be falling in place, Val betrays Veronyka and Veronyka sets out alone to find the Riders. Meanwhile, Sev, a solider in the Empire’s army and an animage in hiding, is drawn into a plot that threatens both his cover and his way of thinking. Tristan is an apprentice with the Phoenix Riders, determined to prove his commander father that he has what it takes to become a fully fledged Rider. Three characters’ stories twist together as the threads of the past reveal the dangers and hope of the future.
The gorgeous cover of Crown of Feather is what first captured my attention and I was quickly intrigued by the synopsis of flaming phoenixes, the humans brave enough to ride them and a plot of political intrigue, bloody history and queens overthrown. While in some places the complex history of the world Pau Preto has created and the detailed layers of government that we as readers don’t get to see, but are informed about in sections between chapters and explanations woven into the plot, was a little distracting. I can’t say that I fully understand all the layers of complexity – I probably should have stopped and reread some sections, but I wanted to stay with the action and flow of the story, which I really enjoyed.
With three main characters who share the chapters, there is no shortage of action and quickly moving events. I loved how that while these three characters and their stories may seem unrelated at first, they soon intertwine, creating a very interesting and multilayered plot. And there are some big reveals at the end that perfectly set up the second book.
Complex and enthralling, Crown of Feathers is a fantasy that YA fans are sure to devour. I look forward to the continuation of this story.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Magic, phoenixes, sisters, history, betrayal, LGBT, fighting.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: References to fighting, death, injuries. References to animal death. References to breeding animals – no details.
Published: 12 February 2019 by Simon Pulse.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 496 pages.