This is my first blog tour thing, so I feel ever so lucky to be invited by Entangled Publishing, after being offered an ebook copy of Phoenix Fire to review.
After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel.
Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.
But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she’s a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters—monsters she never knew existed. It’s a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.
With Wyatt’s increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava’s determined to figure out what he’s hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt’s secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she’ll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have.
“If I didn’t start pushing them away soon, they’d push me away. I couldn’t take that again. Not from another family.”
At first, Ava is all prickles and porcupine spines, eager to push her new found family away, refusing to believe that they might possibly be the family she’s looking her, to love her, all of her, despite her flaws. After years of rejection, she wants to do it first. Because it just hurts less that way.
And slowly, as the story is told, her walls, her defenses are gradually destroyed and she starts to open herself to them, and the others around her. And like moth to a flame, she can’t help feel drawn to Wyatt, the hot new geeky guy at her school, who slowly untangles her, getting beneath her skin and seeing a side of her she normally keeps hidden from most.
So, firstly the bit that I didn’t love so much: The story shifts point of view frequently, with Cade, Nick, Ava and others taking turns at narrating and providing views of events through their perspective. The story jumps often from past to present as they gradually remember what happens to the past, and deal with the consequences in the future. Especially in the first quarter in the book, this did feel very jarring, and it was, at times, very difficult to follow what was going on from one chapter to the next. But it does improve, and for anyone who is having trouble in the first few chapters, I recommend sticking with it, as it does get easier. There was a little bit of insta-love, which I’m not really a fan of, I prefer a slower burn when it comes to such things.
And what I did love: the story feels original, and the characters are detailed and intricate. The cover is gorgeous, and premise on which the book is built on, the warring of these dark and light phoenixes through cycles is unique from most of the YA fantasy books in the market. I kind of like that the main character makes mistakes, and is a bit prickly, and slow to trust. Nothing grates on me more than a ‘perfect’ Mary Sue protagonist.
So overall, Phoenix Fire is definitely worth a read if you want a YA fantasy that’s just a little bit different.
* This ebook ARC was provided by Entangled Publishing, LLC through NetGalley for an honest review.
S. D. Grimm’s first love in writing is young adult fantasy and science fiction, which is to be expected from someone who looks up to heroes like Captain America and Wonder Woman, has been sorted into Gryffindor, and identifies as rebel scum. Her patronus is a red Voltron lion, her spirit animal is Toothless, and her favorite meal is second breakfast. Her office is anywhere she can curl up with her laptop and at least one large-sized dog.You can learn more about her upcoming novels at www.sdgrimm.com.
Excerpt from Phoenix Fire:
He shrugged. “I should have expected Danny to warn you about me.”
“It’s not like you made a habit out of beating people up, right?” I offered a smile.
The way his gaze locked onto mine, suddenly easier to read though the moonlight was blocked by branches here, made me think he might be staring deep into a memory, too.
He sucked in a breath. “Right. I don’t go around hurting people.”
“No. You let them pick on you.” I released his hands.
His small laugh seemed to drip bitterness. “Well, I can’t exactly fight back—I’d be in so much trouble if I were to have another…incident—and they know it.”
That ignited a fireball in my stomach. That’s why they picked on him? “How can people be so cruel?” I pointed my flashlight on the path ahead. “Can I show you something?”
Within a few minutes, we’d arrived to my favorite place on the run. I stepped through the thinning dune grass and out onto a sandy cliff of the top of a dune. From here we could see over Lake Michigan. But the sun had already set, leaving nothing but darkness in front of us.
Here, at night, the best view was looking up.
I sat down and motioned to the stars. “I looked up Andromeda after you came over.”
“Yeah?” His voice carried the hint of awe and surprise mingled together.
“But I don’t know which constellation it is.”
He sat beside me and leaned close enough that his shoulder brushed against mine. “There.” His fingers traced an outline of stars. “It’s been said that she’s a beautiful princess.”
“I read that, too.” I chuckled. “But like all princesses, she got into trouble.”
He laughed. “Yes. She got herself captured.”
I made my voice mock-dreamy. “But her handsome prince—what was his name?
Perseus!—saved her. I can only imagine they lived happily ever after.”
He didn’t respond, so I tore my eyes away from the night sky and found Wyatt already looking at me.
“Thank you,” he said, turning his attention back to the sky as a breeze off the lake muffled his quiet words. “For not making me feel like a monster for what I did.”
I wanted to touch him again, but I refrained. “You’re hardly a monster, Wyatt.”
Something in his soft smile made my heart beat faster.