Title: Heart of Flames
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Genre: Epic Fantasy
Audience: Young Adult
Series/Stand Alone: Trilogy
Next Release? Wings of Shadow, July 13, 2021!
Format read: Audiobook/eBook, Owlcrate Edition
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Date read: 1 July 2021 (Third read through)
Date read: 27 December 2019 (First read through)
First published: 11 February 2020
Content Warning: emotional abuse, controlling relationship, animal death, some violence, war, death, slavery
The epic story continues with more Phoenixes, more secrets, more betrayal and more awesome characters in this harsh world of animal magic and Phoenixes. Sometimes the truth is more than you ever imagined and the world smaller than you realised. Come for the Phoenixes, stay for the flames.
Heart of Flames is the second book in the Crown of Feathers trilogy and continues the story of war orphans, Veronyka and Sev, and the Phoenix Riders, including the Commander’s son, Tristan. If you haven’t read Crown of Feathers, I recommend you consider reading that first as this review will spoil some things for the first book.
Veronyka and Sev are both animages living very different lives. Sev hides his animage abilities while serving as a soldier. Veronyka was in hiding until she was found work in the stables with the phoenix riders while pretending to be a boy by the name of Nyk. Tristan is an apprentice to the Phoenix Riders, who do their best to keep their existence hidden from the Empire, lest they be hunted before they have regained their strength.
Unfortunately, they are not as hidden as they think they are. In an effort to eradicate the Phoenix Riders, Lord Rolan secured a spy and sent his troops on a multi part attack on the Eyrie, the home of the Phoenix Riders. A tricky battle, Tristan managed to lead the defenses with Veronyka’s help and hold off just long enough for the Master Riders to return. During the battle both Phoenixes and animals were allowed to fight, much to the dismay of some riders. The aftermath of the battle is a big theme for Heart of Flames as everyone deals with what comes next, especially now that the Phoenix Riders can no longer be considered a secret.
Secrets always have a way of coming out and some major secrets were shared in Crown of Feathers which shaped a bit of the story for Heart of Flames.
“Guard your secrets like you guard your flesh and blood… A secret in the wrong hands is as good as a blade in the back.”Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto, page 148
Veroynka learned that her sister is actually Avalkyra Ashfire, the reborn feather crowned queen. The first riders and Tristan learned that Nyk is actually Veronyka and that Elliot betrayed them to the Empire in an effort to save his sister. Sev learned that maybe he can make a difference and requests to go back to the empire as Commander Cassian’s spy. Meanwhile he’s not sure what Ilythia’s last words really meant about Avalkyra living, but he shares the knowledge anyway.
More secrets come to life in Heart of Flames for most of our main characters and I can’t wait to see how it all wraps up in Wings of Shadow. In Crown of Feathers we viewed the story from Veronyka, Tristan and Sev’s Point of View (POV) with one chapter from Avalkyra.
In Heart of Flames we have 5 regular POVs: Veronyka, Tristan, Sev, Avalkyra and Elliott; plus one additional POV chapter towards the end. Considering how Crown of Feathers ended for Elliot, it’s very interesting to be in his shoes and hear his thoughts on things. All he wanted was to protect his sister but his efforts were for naught as he has no information and feels alienated from almost everyone. While she doesn’t have her own POV, we get to spend more time with Sparrow this book which was great and I’m really excited excited for her POV in Wings of Shadow!
Veryonka is still my favorite character, followed closely by Tristan, and Sev, and Kade and Sparrow! Val is probably on the list too. She’s an amazingly written character who is just such a force of nature.
There’s nothing faint about my heart, Avalkyra Ashfire!Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto, page 156
Overall this was a wonderful sequel which I liked just as much if not more, than the first. The secrets and reveals in this book were amazing and I am so eager to see how how story ends .
This time I listened to the audio which was a fun way to experience the story which I’m happy to recommend. As with many fantasy books it’s nice to hear and see the names to get them right from the beginning.
As with the previous book, the story is full of interstitials (aka mini tidbits between chapters) that add to the story. I love this kind of world-building and how it adds to the overall feel of the world. In my paperback version below, I’ve marked the pages where certain letters are written between two characters newly introduced this book who I suspect we will learn even more about in Wings of Shadow!
If you haven’t read this story yet, I definitely recommend it! Wings of Shadow, aka the third and final book in the series, releases today so now is a great time to pick this series up!
The image at the beginning of the post is the OwlCrate Exclusive edition cover, photo from Goodreads.com.