Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto – REVIEW
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 an epic fantasy about love’s incredible power to save or to destroy. Throughout is interspersed the story of Avalkyra Ashfire, the last Rider Queen, who would rather see her empire burn than fall into her sister’s hands.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Ink Road Books.
Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
“That’s the thing with secrets…They never really die. Just when one bursts into flames, another rises up to take its place.”
I received an exclusive hardback copy of this book in the February Owlcrate box but I didn’t read it until the end of last month when Ink Road sent me the UK paperback. I’m so glad I have a special edition now though as I really enjoyed the story and I’m looking forward to re-reading it before the release of the sequel next year. Crown of Feathers is a fantasy that excels at world-building, crafting layer upon layer of history to create a world that feels utterly real. The magic system of animages and shadowmages was easy to follow and being a Phoenix Rider sounds enviably amazing.
“Fire was sacred to a phoenix, a part of their very existence…Fire was life and death and power and magic.”
The complex sibling relationship between Veronyka and Val forms the backbone of the story. With no other family left, their relationship has become increasingly toxic. Val is emotionally abusive, dominating and manipulative. She’s also frighteningly ruthless and cruel at times. When Veronyka leaves Val after an unforgivable betrayal, she meets Tristan, son of the commander of the Phoenix Riders. I loved how the relationship between Veronyka and Tristan was incredibly slow-burning – probably due to the fact she’s disguised as a boy most of the time which made it even better. Sev was another interesting character, shaped by necessity into someone who does whatever it takes to survive. His character development was deftly handled and his growing attraction to Kade was fantastic.
“We were night and day, moon and sun – darkness and light. We were nothing without each other.”
In the beginning, I did find the plot a little slow but I think it was necessary for fleshing out the characters and world. As the story progresses, all the plot threads began weaving together leading to events and characters colliding. It was obvious how meticulously planned the story was as every little thing was part of a larger picture. The action intensified towards the end culminating in a tense and well-written battle scene, family truths revealed, and the groundwork laid for book two. Crown of Feathers is an incredible debut with intricate world-building, strong female leads, and a beautiful writing style.