- Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
- Pub Date: February 12, 2019
- Genre: Ya, Fantasy, LGBT
- Publisher: Simon Pulse
- Product #: 9781534424623
- Pages: Hardcover, 496
Hold on and buckle up guys, this is going to be a long one.
First off, it took me 4 days to read this book. FOUR DAYS. Now you may say, “okay, Denia, what’s the big deal with that?” Well, I could’ve read another two books in the time it took me to read that book. It’s not so much its length, it was more its content and I’ll talk more about that later, but first let me give you a basic rundown of the book.
So, apparently, the premise of the book doesn’t explain the story, according to my boyfriend, who had a bunch of questions about the story’s development because the blurb was bad at explaining what this story was about. I’m going to try and explain this story in similar words that I used to explain to him without spoiling.
Basically, a long time ago there were two sisters that were to rule their kingdom together. One sister possessed the magic to control and talk to animals–Animage, the people with that ability were called. Each animage had the potential of becoming a phoenix rider, which in this world is a great privilege. The sister with the power had become a fearless rider and one of the best. A disagreement happened between the sister causing the kingdom to split in half and both sisters to fight against each other, animage against human. The animage sister was defeated and forced to flee her kingdom, making every animage in the kingdom illegal, so they were either executed along with their phoenixes or forced into slavery. Those animages that still lived, now live in hiding in fear of being captured and killed. Phoenix birds were chased into extinction making the finding of eggs and breeding of them even more illegal but more wanted at the same time.
“Dead men tell no tales–and point no fingers”
Enter Veronyka and Val, a bunch of years later. Both of them are sisters, animages in hiding in fear of getting caught, always moving around and never settling anywhere. Val is the older sister and she’s mean like b-word mean. Veronyka, 16, has dreamt all of her life of being a phoenix rider just like the old tales talked about the First Riders. She longed to find a phoenix egg of her own, to hatch it and to form a special bond with the animal just so that she can soar the sky and find her true purpose in life. Val was very controlling and manipulative of Veronyka and one day Val betrays her causing Veronyka to run away from her sister.
Veronyka chooses to follow her dreams of becoming a rider without the help of her sister and that’s when she encounters a camp full of riders in hiding. Only to realize that men are the only ones allowed to ride. Knowing this, she disguises herself as a boy just so that she can make her dreams come true, no matter the cost.
Now, the story itself was great! I loved the whole thing. But it was sooooooo long! Oh my God, I thought I was going to die. By the time I finished reading the book, I had a headache. Now, there are only about 500 pages on this book, but the lining and spacing between the characters were shorter than your normal YA book and the font was smaller too (LOL at least it felt like it). But not only did it felt long because of that but also because of how much information was on that book. It was like a reading a story but reading a history book at the same time. My mind was tired.
This book alternates between the POVs of different characters and in between those POVs there are history lessons of who they are, who they were, etc, as if the author was trying to teach us the world as we go along. That being said, the world-building was great. Those phoenixes descriptions could put your mind to wonder. And with all that description she did of the before and now and explaining to us how things were done then and why this and why that, you get a pretty good grip of it. But, that can also backfire, because not only once but multiple times did I find myself getting lost in this book. There was just so much to take in, at times it felt too overwhelming.
That’s the thing with secrets… They never really die. Just when one bursts into flames, another rises up to take its place.
Back to POVs though. This story is written in the third-person narrative, we follow the voices of Veronyka, Sev, and Tristan. There are other characters that have a POV but that’s only like one chapter and they are not that relevant.
Veronyka is our heroine, she’s been slowly suffering taking the emotional abuse that her sister treated her with, that she’s a broken shell of a person when she leaves her side. However, despite her being hurt by the sister she loves, she still finds her voice and fights for what she truly believes in. Even if that means changing who she is (physically). I do like how even in her boy state, she fought for women’s right in their hideout when she was with the hidden riders. She was always questioning why couldn’t girls do this or why couldn’t girls do that. Nyk, her name after, was also strong at the moment that mattered the most and I love seeing that on her. Despite the fact that she was a kid, she showed strength like no other and I loved that side of her.
Sev is a hidden animage soldier that works for the kingdom that hates animages, hence why he hides it. He is telling another side of the story that’s happening with the kingdom itself. You’ll have to read it to see what I mean, but his character is flawed. He’s scared that he’s going to be busted, he doesn’t care about anyone but himself and he’s trying to escape from the holds of the kingdom. But later, due to circumstances coming between his escape, he is forced to choose a side, either choose to be the animage that he is and rebel against the kingdom or die as a lying soldier. He, later on, finds his voice and he makes a decision that changes his life forever. I do admire the strength and courage of him.
And there’s Tristan, son of the Commandant of the riders in hiding. He’s trying to prove to his father that he can be a very strong general just like him, but nothing he does gets his father’s approval. He’s very stubborn, hardheaded and volatile, but there’s something about him that makes him falter, and is the fact that he’s afraid of something that impedes him from being the best rider he can be. I believe this fear is what drew me to him. Tristan can be dark and brooding but deep inside he’s just like the rest of us, fighting our own demons.
There are other secondary characters like, Kade who’s an a-hole but I ended up liking him in the end, although I wish I could’ve had more of HIS end. And then there was my favorite character in the whole book, Sparrow. I was really disappointed that she gave me so little of her. From the little of her that was in the book, I found strength, courage, this great sense of being, she was great. She really is one of the best characters in this book and I sure hope we get to see more of her in the next one. Also, she made me cry like a baby because her scenes were so good.
Overall, I did feel like this book was too long but I also understand why she needed to make it as long as she did. I personally didn’t care for the history lessons but they were there to help me understand the reasoning behind its people and the reason they were doing what they were doing. She provides a glossary and a timeline at the end that I found extremely helpful so I would recommend looking at that before reading the book, just so that you can get an idea of what you are getting yourself into.
Besides the fact that this felt like a mix of a history book mixed with fantasy, I did enjoy the story regardless of how hard the journey was. If you are a reader that liked And I Darken, The Grishaverse, Truthwitch, Three Dark Crowns, Circle of Shadows, etc., I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this book. For readers 10-years old and older. (Moms don’t worry, there’s not even a freaking kiss in this book) (yes, I’m very disappointed). And, I want to thank you guys for taking the time to read my review, I truly appreciated.