Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers Series #1)

Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers Series #1)

by Nicki Pau Preto

Hardcover

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534424623
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 02/12/2019
Series: Crown of Feathers Series , #1
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 47,375
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.90(d)
Lexile: 970L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Nicki Pau Preto is a graphic designer and YA author living just outside Toronto, Canada. Her favorite stories have always been the ones that take her somewhere new, with characters she can love and worlds she can get lost in. Like all starving artists, she considers bargain shopping a competitive sport and Froot Loops a suitable meal replacement.

Read an Excerpt

Crown of Feathers
I had a sister once. If I had known then what I know now, I might have chosen not to love her. But is love ever truly a choice?
- CHAPTER 1 -

VERONYKA GATHERED THE BONES of the dead.

Joints of venison blackened and burned on the spit, and racks of ribs stewed so long that they were dry and brittle as driftwood. She dug through rotten lettuce and potato peelings for tiny, sharp-as-daggers fish bones and the hollow, delicate bones of birds.

The small owl perched on her shoulder hooted softly in distaste at her most recent discovery. Veronyka shushed him gently, piling the bird bones inside her basket with the rest and standing.

It was late evening, the cool night air threatening frost. The village streets were empty and quiet, with no one to notice the solitary girl digging through their garbage heaps. The clouds above glowed iron gray, obscuring the full moon and making it almost impossible to see in the darkness. That was why she’d called the owl to be her guide. His eyes were precise in the black of night, and with a nudge to her mind, he showed Veronyka the way over rocks and boulders and under low-hanging branches. In her haste, she tripped and stumbled anyway; Val had told her to hurry, and she knew better than to keep her sister waiting.

Excitement and anticipation crackled in her veins, tinged with no small amount of fear—would tonight finally be the night?

Veronyka’s breath created clouds in front of her face as she made her way back to the cabin she and Val shared. It was small and had been deserted when they’d found it, the bright blue paint peeling on its front door and the shutters broken, probably used during the warmer months for hunting and then abandoned during the rainy winter season. The weather was getting drier and hotter with each passing day, so they wouldn’t be able to stay much longer. Another home, come and gone.

As the cabin came into view, Veronyka’s insides contracted. The thick column of smoke that had been billowing from the chimney when she left was nothing more than a thin stream of ghostly wisps. They were running out of time.

She ran the last few steps, the flimsy wooden door thwacking against the stone wall as she pushed her way into the single room. All was darkness, save for the orange flicker of the glowing embers. The smell of smoke was heavy in the air, the taste of ash bitter on her tongue.

Val stood in front of the round hearth in the middle of the cabin, turning at the sound of Veronyka’s entrance. She wore an impatient, agitated expression as she snatched the basket from Veronyka’s grip and stared in at its contents.

She snorted in disapproval. “If that’s the best you can do . . . ,” she said, tossing it carelessly aside, half the bones spilling onto the packed earthen floor.

“You said to hurry,” Veronyka objected, looking around Val to see that the fire burned hot and low beneath a pile of new kindling. These weren’t the boiled or spit-blackened bones of animals, though. These were large white bones.

Human-looking bones.

Val followed her line of sight and answered the unasked question. “And still you took too long, so I went looking on my own.”

A shudder ran down Veronyka’s spine despite the heat.

She tugged at the heavy wool cloak that was wrapped around her shoulders, and her owl guide, whom she’d completely forgotten about, ruffled his feathers.

The movement drew her sister’s attention. Veronyka froze, her muscles tingling as she awaited her sister’s reaction. Would she fly off the handle, like she often did, or would she let the animal’s presence slide?

The owl twitched nervously, shifting from foot to foot under Val’s gaze. Veronyka tried to soothe him, but her own anxiety was rippling across the surface of her skin. A moment later his clawed feet dug into Veronyka’s shoulder, and he glided soundlessly out the still-open door.

Veronyka shut it behind him, taking her time before she faced her sister, dreading the argument that was sure to come. They were both animages—able to understand and communicate with animals—but they had very different views on what that meant. Val believed animals should be treated and used as tools. Compelled, controlled, dominated.

Veronyka, on the other hand, felt kinship with animals, not superiority over them.

“Loving them is weakness,” Val warned, her back to Veronyka as she crouched before the hearth. She added some of the smaller bones from Veronyka’s basket to the growing flames, piling them carefully around the sides of two smooth gray eggs, blackened and streaked with soot. They sat amid the glowing hot embers in a bed of bone and ash, tongues of fire licking up their sides.

Though Veronyka couldn’t see Val’s face, she could imagine the fervor in her eyes. Veronyka expelled a slow, somewhat exasperated breath. They’d had this conversation before.

“The Riders didn’t treat their mounts like pets to be cuddled and fawned over, Veronyka. They were warriors, phoenixaeres, and their bond wasn’t love. It was duty. Honor.”

Phoenixaeres. Even with Val’s scolding, excitement blazed in Veronyka’s heart whenever her sister spoke about Phoenix Riders—animages who’d bonded with phoenixes. The literal translation of the ancient Pyraean word was “phoenix masters,” something Val often reminded her of. Only ani-mages could become Riders, because only through their magic could they hatch, communicate with, and ride the legendary creatures.

It was all Veronyka had ever wanted. To be a Phoenix Rider like the warrior queens of old.

She wanted to soar through the sky on phoenix-back, to be fierce and brave like Lyra the Defender or Avalkyra Ashfire, the Feather-Crowned Queen.

But it had been more than sixteen years since the last Phoenix Riders had graced the Golden Empire’s skies. Most had died in the Blood War, when Avalkyra and her sister, Pheronia, were pitted against each other in a battle for the empire’s throne. The rest had been labeled traitors for turning against the empire and were hunted down and executed afterward. Practicing animal magic without registering and paying heavy taxes had been made illegal, and animages like Veronyka and Val had to live in secrecy and squalor, hiding their abilities, in constant fear of being captured and forced into servitude.

During their glory days, the Phoenix Riders were guardians above all else, and for Veronyka, even the idea of them had been a shining beacon of hope when she was growing up. Her grandmother had always promised that one day the Phoenix Riders would return. One day it would be safe to be an animage again. And when her grandmother had died, Veronyka had vowed to become one herself. She wanted to be the light in the darkness for other poor, lonely animages living in hiding. She wanted the strength and the means to fight and protect others like her and Val. The strength she hadn’t had to protect her grandmother.

Maybe the Phoenix Riders as a military order were gone, but you needed only two things if you wanted to be a phoenixaeris: animal magic and a phoenix.

Veronyka moved around Val to kneel next to the hearth. The phoenix eggs nestled there were roughly the size of her cupped hands, and their color and texture were so similar to that of natural stones that they could easily be overlooked. It was a defense mechanism, Val had said, so that phoenixes could lay their eggs in secret and leave them unguarded for years until they—or an animage—came to hatch them. The Riders often concealed eggs as well, placing secret caches inside statues and sacred spaces, but many had been destroyed by the empire during the war.

Veronyka and Val had been searching for phoenix eggs for years—in every run-down temple, abandoned Rider outpost, and forgotten building they could find. They’d traded meals for information, sold stolen goods for wagon rides, and made other transactions Val wouldn’t let her see. After their grandmother had died, Val had been determined to get them out of Aura Nova, the capital of the empire, and into Pyra—but it hadn’t been easy. Travel outside the empire after the war had been closely monitored, as many of Avalkyra Ashfire’s allies had tried to get into Pyra to avoid persecution. In the years since, with the threat of bondage or poverty under the magetax, many animages had tried to do the same. Pyra had once been a province of the empire, but it had declared its autonomy under Avalkyra Ashfire’s leadership. With the death of its Feather-Crowned Queen, it had become a lawless, somewhat dangerous place—but it was still safer for animages than the empire.

Without proper identification, Veronyka and Val hadn’t been able to cross the border. Plus, they were animages—if their magic had been discovered, they would have been put into bondage. So they’d been forced to travel within the empire, Val leading, Veronyka following. They’d slept in ditches, on rooftops, in the pouring rain and the sweltering heat. Val would disappear—sometimes for days—then return with blood on her shirt and a coin purse in her hands.

Those had been hard times, but they’d finally bribed their way onto a merchant caravan and been smuggled into Pyra, their parents’ homeland. Veronyka had been certain that, finally, their luck would change. And after several long months, it had.

Val had found two perfect phoenix eggs hidden in a crumbling temple deep in the wilderness of Pyra. One for each of them.

Just thinking about that day brought a prickle of tears to Veronyka’s eyes, a surge of emotion that she fought to keep in check. Whenever Val caught sight of Veronyka’s euphoric smile at the prospect of what they were doing, she’d meet it with cold, hard truths: Sometimes eggs didn’t hatch. Sometimes the phoenix inside chose not to bond or died during the incubation process.

Even now, Val didn’t smile or take joy in the sight of the eggs in the hearth. Their incubation was as somber as a funeral pyre.

A bone snapped in the hearth, and a cloud of ash rose up. Veronyka held her breath so she wouldn’t inhale the dead, drawing a circle on her forehead.

“Stop that,” Val snapped, seeing Veronyka’s hand and swatting it aside. Her beautiful face was a severe mask, her warm brown skin painted with black shadows and swathes of red and orange from the firelight. “Axura’s Eye should not be called for some silly superstition. That’s for peasants and fishermen, not you.”

Val was never much for religion, but Axura was the god most sacred to Pyraeans—and Phoenix Riders—so she usually let Veronyka say prayers or give thanks. Still, she hated the small superstitions, turning up her nose and pretending she and Veronyka were somehow above the local villagers and working-class people they’d lived among all their lives. They hadn’t had a proper home since they were children, and even that was a hovel in the Narrows, the poorest district of Aura Nova. Right now they were squatting on the floor of another person’s cottage. Who were they, if not peasants?

“Have you eaten?” Veronyka asked, changing the subject. Val wore that fanatical look on her face again, and heavy bags sat under her eyes. Val was only seventeen, but in her exhaustion she appeared much older. Quietly Veronyka moved away from the fire to dig through their box of food stores, which were getting dangerously low.

“I had some of the salt fish,” Val answered, her voice taking on the familiar distant tenor that came over her after too much time fire gazing.

“Val, we ran out of the fish two days ago.”

She shrugged, a jerking twitch of the shoulder, and Veronyka sighed. Val hadn’t eaten since she’d found the eggs. For all her intelligence and cunning, she often lost track of the mundane activities that made up daily life. Veronyka was the one who cooked their meals and mended their clothes, who worried about sleep and nutrition and a clean home. Val’s mind was always elsewhere—on people and places long gone, or on distant dreams and future possibilities.

As she continued to search through their stores, Veronyka unearthed an almost-empty sack of rice. They’d have to find something worth trading in the village the next day, or they’d go hungry.

“You know we won’t,” Val said, speaking into the flames.

Immediately realizing her mistake, Veronyka closed her eyes. She’d been projecting her thoughts and concerns into the open air, where anyone—where Val—could snatch them up. While their shared ability to speak into the minds of animals was fairly common—one in ten people, Val said, though it was higher in Pyra—their ability to speak into human minds was as rare as a phoenix egg. Shadowmages, they were called, and for two sisters to have the gift was even rarer. Unlike animal magic, shadow magic wasn’t hereditary, and as far as Veronyka knew, most people thought it was a myth. It existed only in old stories and epic poems, a magical ability belonging to ancient Pyraean queens and long-dead heroes.

While they had to be careful with their animal magic since it had been outlawed in the empire, they had to be extra cautious when it came to shadow magic. People in Pyra would often let animages be, but if anyone were to catch Veronyka and Val using shadow magic, they would almost certainly be turned in. For every legend of a powerful Phoenix Rider queen with an uncanny ability to tell truths from lies, there was also a cautionary tale about a dark witch who corrupted souls and controlled minds. It was mostly nonsense, Veronyka suspected, but people often rejected and distrusted things they didn’t understand. She and Val were safest if they kept their shadow magic to themselves.

Of course, that didn’t stop Val from using it on Veronyka whenever she pleased.

Guard your mind, Val said, speaking the words inside Veronyka’s head rather than out loud. Like speaking to animals, shadow magic could be used to communicate, or it could be used to influence a person’s will: to order and command. Val often used the latter to get them food or clothes or shelter, but she only ever turned shadow magic on Veronyka to communicate. As far as Veronyka knew. Still, she could see Val was tempted sometimes, when Veronyka disobeyed and refused to listen, and she could understand the danger of such a powerful ability.

“I’m making dinner,” Veronyka announced, drawing her thoughts and feelings inward and putting up mental walls to surround and protect them, just like Val had taught her. She was usually better at keeping her mind guarded, but they’d been tending the fire for two days, and in her exhaustion, her emotions were raw and close to the surface. Cooking some food would help distract her from the alternating surges of fluttering anticipation and aching dread that were in constant flux inside her. The closer they got to the moment of hatching, the more terrified she became that it would go wrong, that it would all be for nothing.

Everything rested upon those two round rocks in the fire.

Veronyka lifted their heavy clay pot and hoisted it over to the edge of the hearth, the bag of rice tucked under her arm. “We’ve still got some onions and dried meat to make broth, and . . . Val?”

Veronyka caught the scent of singed fabric. Val crouched so near the flames that the hem of her tunic was smoking, but she was still as a statue, oblivious to the heat, a steady stream of tears making tracks down her soot-smeared cheeks.

Veronyka’s heart constricted, and she looked into the flames, expecting to see cause for concern. Instead the nearest egg twitched and rattled. Veronyka held her breath. The gentle sound of hollow scraping punctuated the hiss and pop of the flames.

A font of purest, powerful hope welled up inside her chest.

She looked back at Val, asking the question—begging for the affirmation.

Val nodded, her answer barely louder than a whisper. “It’s time.”

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Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers Series #1) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
taramichelle 6 months ago
I read Crown of Feathers last weekend and I couldn’t put it down. I was completely enchanted by the story, the characters, and the writing. Crown of Feathers was told through two different points of view. I absolutely loved both of them and thought that they were equally engaging. It was fascinating to see how both main characters developed over the course of the novel. I thought that Nicki Pau Preto did a fantastic job of creating multi-dimensional characters that were all well developed. This book seriously had everything I love - spies, court politics, hate to love romance, sister relationships, found family, and magical beasts. The phoenixes were one of my favorite parts of the book! I’d highly recommend Crown of Feathers if you’re looking for a YA fantasy or going through Fantastic Beasts withdrawal. This is one of my only five star reads this year that wasn’t a reread. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
taramichelle 6 months ago
I read Crown of Feathers last weekend and I couldn’t put it down. I was completely enchanted by the story, the characters, and the writing. Crown of Feathers was told through two different points of view. I absolutely loved both of them and thought that they were equally engaging. It was fascinating to see how both main characters developed over the course of the novel. I thought that Nicki Pau Preto did a fantastic job of creating multi-dimensional characters that were all well developed. This book seriously had everything I love - spies, court politics, hate to love romance, sister relationships, found family, and magical beasts. The phoenixes were one of my favorite parts of the book! I’d highly recommend Crown of Feathers if you’re looking for a YA fantasy or going through Fantastic Beasts withdrawal. This is one of my only five star reads this year that wasn’t a reread. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
BeautyBookCorner 6 months ago
This was such a wild ride (pun intended). If you read the synopsis and was attracted to the concept of Phoenix Riders, you won't be disappointed. The animals are described with such power and beauty. The whole lore of flames and resurrections are also critical to the story as well. The book switches POVs between three characters: Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev. The story is also told in two settings. One takes place at the Phoenix Rider camp with Veronyka and Tristan. The other setting is with the empire soldiers where Sev is. For a good chunk of the book, you don't really see any connection between the two. There aren't any overlapping characters taking part in either setting, but it all comes together later. Veronyka is definitely the main character of this book. And she is ambitious, honorable, and brave. Her older sister, Val, is also ambitious, but with a cold ferocity that drives all her decisions. She speaks, attacks, and loves viciously. I found their dynamic really interesting and it definitely seems like things will get even deeper in later books. I found the world building to be pretty good. There is a lot of info dumping at first so I recommend that you flip to the handy dandy timeline and glossary at the back of the book. There aren't any spoilers for the story and may give you a clearer sense of the world. Between most chapters, there are pieces of information from past historical documents or letters between the two queens (who caused the civil war in the land) that give you a better understanding of the political climate or magic. In the present time, those who control animals (these include the Phoenix Riders) are living as slaves of the empire or in secret. A small group of Phoenix Riders have banded together to recruit and train male animages to become Phoneix Riders. Veronyka joins this group after leaving Val, but disguised as a boy. Phoenixes, dragons, and other magical animals have never been a big draw for me. I have always been more attracted to witches, sorcerers and more elemental magic systems, and any magical animals were a pleasant addition to the story. However, I really enjoyed the concept of animages and phoenixes having a deep soul bond, and how in this world, they become fierce warriors together. They feel each other's emotions and physical pain. I found myself becoming really emotional when reading about Veronyka and her bonded Phoenix. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, magic, and land. If you love epic high fantasy, I don't think you will be disappointed. **Thank you to Netgalley and Simon Pulse for giving me a digital arc of the book in exchange for my honest review.**
Littlebookqueen 6 months ago
When I first read the synopsis for Crown of Feathers I thought it sounded amazing and just knew I had to read it and from the very first line I was hooked. The whole concept of phoenix-riding warriors sounded epic and the fact that the main character had to disguise herself as a boy was also really intriguing to me. There are two alternating story lines that take place throughout the novel and they are so intricately woven together. The way that Nicki connects the two is so clever and when you see some of the connections revealed, they’re shocking but make sense when you look back at them. This story really sets itself apart from other YA fantasy. I got major Tamora Pierce vibes from it and it is the kind of quality story that seems to be missing from this genre now days. So many YA books consist of the same tropes and cliches but, Crown of Feathers is in a league of its own. It’s heartbreaking, inspiring, heartwarming, and downright amazing! My emotions were all over the place with this one. You don’t get the corny insta-love relationships that are rushed and so often don’t seem genuine. The relationships are built over time and express more by what isn’t said. The chemistry between both sets of characters is done very well and you can really see how these characters and their relationships grow throughout the story. And can we give a huge round of applause for POC main characters AND LGBTQ representation! Veronyka was a great main character and I loved seeing her character growth throughout the book. No matter what obstacles she encountered, she didn’t let anything stand in the way of her dream. Not to mention her magical powers were bad ass and I may or may not have been jealous of a fictional character. Plus, she was bonded to an adorable phoenix! Sev (the other main character was written very well also. Like Veronyka, he wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of what he was trying to accomplish. For him, this meant doing whatever it took to survive, even going as far as hiding his powers when arrested in order to become a soldier as opposed to a slave. Veronyka’s sister, Val was purely evil and manipulative, creating the perfect villain that you love to hate. Towards the end of the book I still found that I despised her yet, I am very curious to see what role she will play in the next book. The world that Nicki has created is utterly amazing and I adored all the small details and history built into the story. She has created characters that people will fall in love with and a story that will ensnare readers everywhere. Overall, I felt that Crown of Feathers is a one of a kind tale and I just loved everything about it. Rating: All the stars in existence (but, seriously this book is amazing!)
bookchelle 6 months ago
My friend Mary told me about Crown of Feathers, when it was first announced. She said, and I quote, "If you don't love this book as much as I do, then we can't be friends anymore." That is high praise for this book, so I knew it was going to be a win-win reading situation. Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto is fantasy, through and through. We have a hidden society, missing heirs, and a magic system that has been banned from life. Did I mention that there are phoenixes AND phoenix riders? Yup. Fantasy, through and through. The story of two sisters, that are the light and dark of a bond already sold me. Meeting Veronyka and Avalkyra Ashfire has been one of the most interesting things that has happened to me in the fantasy world. This story is epic, filled with adventure and wonderment, but above all, the story of love and all that it has to offer and take away. Pau Preto's writing is wonderful, and such a great fit for this story. I loved the prose, the nuances, and the dialogue used when telling this tale. I loved Val, and had the softest heart for Veronyka. Did I love and hate? You bet. Was I afraid and cheer? Definitely. There is darkness in this book. Mentions of death, bones, war. It is important to the story, but this is a warning to you. It's a fantasy book, and Pau Preto doesn't hold anything back. You're going to need this book in your life, and then once you're done, you'll cry for the year until the next book comes. But it's worth the tears, because your heart will feel stronger from it. *Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.*
FadedPages 6 months ago
5/5 Stars I loved this book with my whole YA fantasy and mythical creature loving heart! It was everything I needed to pull me out of a mini reading slump. The story begins with the history of two sisters, one born without magic and one an animage and phoenix rider. Both sisters were fighting for the right to rule the kingdom until they tore it apart. Years later, two animage sisters, Val and Veronyka, are fighting as well, but to survive in a world where animages are imprisoned or enslaved and phoenix riders are something of legend. Veronyka ends up being betrayed by her sister and leaves to find the phonenix riders that she still believes exist. The overall story was complex, historical, and beautiful. I loved the inserted bits of phoenix legends and history here and there that truly added to the overall story and world building. It was pure fantasy magic! The reader really gets a sense of the diverse world through the stories and the many different points of view. I completely fell in love with the characters and creatures in this story. I loved the main characters and each point of view presented including Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev. The little bits with Sparrow really had me wanting a happy ending for her as well. She was just this little character that kept popping up and I absolutely loved her personality. I also enjoyed every single scene between Veronyka and Tristan. There was definitely a hate to friendship story going on and I loved that the author took the time to develop it. There was definitely several twists, lies and betrayals that unfurled along the way in this story that I didn't see coming. This book ripped my heart out in the beginning with the certain betrayal scene hinted at with Veronyka and Val. It's been awhile since I had to put a book down from reading an emotional scene, but I definitely had to at that point. I felt it went beyond backstabbing. The villains in this book were truly hate-worthy even if some are slightly gray area in the morality department. It took me awhile to pick the story back up after that scene, but it completely set everything in motion. The pacing of the story was good, but I felt it went faster after Veronyka goes in search of the phoenix riders. Overall, I loved this book and believe it will easily be one of my favorites I read this year! I highly recommend this book if you love phoenixes, mythical creatures, sister rivalry stories, girls in disguise, a little hate to love romance in your fantasy, LGBT side characters, stories within stories, history with your world building and multiple POVs! Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing for allowing me the chance to read this ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I truly appreciate it and will be waiting in fiery anticipation for the sequel!
KatsNook 3 months ago
4 Stars for Crown of Feathers Crown of Feathers is the stunning debut from author Nicki Pau Preto. Get ready for an exciting adventure with action, friendship, family drama and magical phoenixes! What did I like? • I was drawn into the story from the first chapter. Veronyka and her sister Val are war orphans and have been surviving by hiding their true identities. The sisters are animages, people with the power to control and communicate with animals. Veronyka has idolized the legendary heroes, the Phoenix Riders, and dreams of becoming a rider. But Val doesn’t agree with Veronyka’s hero worshipping. Right away you sense the tension between the sisters and this drama is what kept me engaged. When Veronyka is betrayed by her sister she begins a journey to find the Phoenix Riders. But joining the heroes comes with a price. Girls are not accepted as Phoenix Riders and Veronyka disguises as a boy to follow her dream. As Veronyka tries to deceive others I couldn’t help but anticipate trouble and the author fulfills it with interesting twists. Even though it became predictable I still enjoyed the suspense of her secret being revealed. • The story is told in alternating POV’s and I enjoyed viewing the subplots come together. Besides Veronyka’s POV, readers meet Tristan, the son of the leader of the Phoenix Riders, and Sev, an Empire soldier hiding his animage abilities. • The world building is exciting and imaginative. I’ve always loved phoenixes and I enjoyed how the author depicted them as intelligent, loyal and affectionate. • The diversity in characters is always great to see. What didn’t I like? • The pace of the story is slow due to a lot of information and the alternating POV’s. But the final chapters are filled with action and everything comes together. I am still surprised with the ending. Overall the Crown of Feathers is an impressive debut and beginning of a new series. I can’t wait for the next book!
HugsandKissesforBooks 3 months ago
Great beginning to a new fantasy series! Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Crown of feathers by Nicki Pau Preto! Val and Veronyka are sisters who can communicate with animals (animages) and convince the animals to do their bidding. The sisters also have that same effect on people (shadowmages). The law prohibits this behavior, so the sisters are in hiding and they have been for years, alone and on their own, moving from place to place to survive and hunt for Phoenix eggs to rejuvenate the Phoenix riders. They discover two eggs and one hatches; the Phoenix chick chooses Veronyka instead of the elder sister Val. Sev is a soldier by choosing service instead of punishment for his crimes. He accidentally sees Veronyka and her Phoenix, Xyphera, while Raiders are attacking her cabin. Sev and a prisoner help her escape the notice of the raiders. Later, Val kills Xyphera because she thinks Veronyka has raised her poorly. This breaks Veronyka’s heart and she leaves Val behind to search for Phoenix eggs and Phoenix riders on her own. During her search, Veronyka meets Sparrow, an animage with a bird companion named Chirp. Tristan is a Phoenix rider who’s afraid of fire and he feels like he’s a constant disappointment to his father. The group of Phoenix riders that Veronyka finds only accepts boys and Sparrow gives her the idea to pose as a boy, becoming Veronyka’s “brother”, Nyk. Nyk meets Tristan, the son of the Phoenix riders’ Commander. They have a tumultuous relationship for a while because Tristan is under his father’s thumb. Everything comes to a head when Nyk sees Val in the crowd! Veronyka’s life becomes much more complicated after Val shows up and many truths are revealed, leaving Veronyka questioning everything about who she is. 5 stars for this complex and unique fantasy! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration and all opinions and thoughts are my own.
OpinionatedTurnip 4 months ago
What I Liked The start of this book took me a second to get my head around, but once I was in, I was IN. This fantasy kingdom is very well laid-out and there's some incredible world building moments in it. Veronyka's kindness juxtaposed to Val's controlling coldness is very well done, and Val's manipulation is characterized so well I found myself getting SO ANGRY AT HER. The other POV characters, Sev and Tristan, are done very well. I kinda like Sev more than I like Tristan, but hey, maybe that's just me. What I Would Have Liked to See Like I said, the beginning was sort of choppy trying to catch the reader up on the deep history of this world. I think upon re-read, I'd like the beginning a lot better. My Favorite! The history of the Phoenix Riders, and the history and heritage of this world altogether. It's gorgeous and so imaginative! I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE SECOND BOOK! TL;DR The legendary Phoenix Riders are attempting to rise from their own ashes and retake their kingdom, and a war orphan of mysterious lineage might be the champion they need--if she can survive the empire that wants them all dead. P.S. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley for my honest review. All thoughts are my own!
Anonymous 4 months ago
This was awesome.
eclecticbookwrm 5 months ago
This book was a bit of a slow burn with a slow start that took me a while to get into. But once I got into it, I was 100% there for it. I adored the ending and cannot wait to see where Pau Preto takes things next. The world and characters and phoenixes are so excellent. If you a fan of epic historical fantasies with intricate world histories, this is the book for you. .The ending was action packed and held more than a few surprises. I highly recommend it for fans of Brandon Sanderson and the like.
Tiffany Lyann 5 months ago
. I really wanted to love this story. It has everything that I love, sisters battling it out, magical creatures, and girls rebelling. But it fell flat, largely because of the pacing. The pacing was AWFUL The beginning of the book felt like nothing but an info dump, which really should have been scattered throughout the story. I understood that the things discussed were important, so I trudged through it - but really that info could have been spread out to make the beginning seem less like a history lesson and more like the start of an epic adventure. It really interrupted the flow of the story, to the point were I put the book down several times. I usually am able to finish a book fairly quickly, but this one -- I struggled with all the way through. There were so many points of view in this story that it really bothered me that we did not get Val's point of view, especially given the initial betrayal involving the phoenix. It seemed like an awful waste to not get into Val's head and truly understand why she is doing the things she is doing. Some of Sev's chapters were convoluted and didn't make much sense. They messed with the over all flow of the story as well, unfortunately. It wasn't all bad though! There were a lot of things I enjoyed about the book. I really loved that the author included such a diverse cast, from gender bending to non hetero relationships, this book had something for everyone when it came to being able to identify with a character. The magical creatures were AMAZING! I was skeptical but the author did justice for them in that sense. The first time the Phoenix died, I was aghast -- until I remembered it was a phoenix and it would be back. After that, it wasn't that upsetting when things happened. The dynamic between Val and Veronyka was believable and thrilling. There is something about the love and hatred of sisters that lends these tropes to create devastatingly real relationships between them. I really wanted to love this book, it had everything I swoon for: sisters, magic, animals, but over all it was a let down. Perhaps, if the info dumping hadn't been so evident I would have felt differently. The pacing of the book was too slow for me as well, with the bulk of the action happening at towards the end of the book. Overall, I gave this book at 3 STAR rating. I will probably pick up the next one, just because I want to know what happens.
Suzanne Costner 6 months ago
Looking for some epic fantasy? How about an empire with a history of devastating war between factions supporting royal sisters? In the aftermath of the war the animages who fought on the losing side have been driven into hiding in outlying areas. The valiant Phoenix Riders, known as phoenixaeres, have been destroyed. And the Empire keeps tight control over the borders, eager to prevent any resurgence of their fallen foes. Even is you are not so much into world building and all the history and backstory that go into it, perhaps you will be lured in by the characters and all their quirks. Here's a quick sampling...There are Veronyka and her sister Val, orphaned daughters of Riders, and now living on the run - but keeping the dream alive that the Riders will rise again. Sev, an unwilling soldier of the Empire, is also an animage in hiding. Tristan is the son of a Phoenix Rider, and his father also has the dream of bringing the Riders back. There are politics, jealousies (historical and current), possible love interests, magic, and the beautiful and deadly phoenixes. What more could you really want? Just released this week and ready for YA or mature middle grade readers.