Heart of Flames

Heart of Flames

by Nicki Pau Preto

Hardcover

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Overview

Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev must stop the advancing empire from destroying the Phoenix Riders in this fiery sequel to Crown of Feathers, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake calls “absolutely unforgettable!”

You are a daughter of queens.

The world is balanced on the edge of a knife, and war is almost certain between the empire and the Phoenix Riders.

Like Nefyra before you, your life will be a trial by fire.

Veronyka finally got her wish to join the Riders, but while she’s supposed to be in training, all she really wants to do is fly out to defend the villages of Pyra from the advancing empire. Tristan has been promoted to Master Rider, but he has very different ideas about the best way to protect their people than his father, the commander. Sev has been sent to spy on the empire, but maintaining his cover may force him to fight on the wrong side of the war. And Veronyka’s sister, Val, is determined to regain the empire she lost—even if it means inciting the war herself.

Such is your inheritance. A name. A legacy. An empire in ruin.

As tensions reach a boiling point, the characters all find themselves drawn together into a fight that will shape the course of the empire—and determine the future of the Phoenix Riders. Each must decide how far they’re willing to go—and what they’re willing to lose in the process.

I pray you are able to pass through the flames.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534424654
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 02/11/2020
Series: Crown of Feathers Series
Pages: 640
Sales rank: 21,938
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 2.20(d)
Lexile: 980L (what's this?)
Age Range: 13 - 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

Chapter 1: Veronyka


My dearest daughter;

I want to tell you a story.
- CHAPTER 1 - VERONYKA
VERONYKA KICKED AS HARD as she could at Tristan’s face.

They were in the training yard, and the evening sun was casting purple shadows across the stronghold walls, setting the golden phoenix statue atop the temple ablaze with light.

The dinner bell had rung, and the rest of the apprentices and masters had finished their training for the day. Those who remained were packing up and putting away practice weapons or watching idly as Veronyka and Tristan circled each other.

They were sparring, and though Veronyka hated the attention, she’d told Tristan she wouldn’t quit for the day until she’d beaten him once. So far, she was zero for five, and she was getting tired.

Tristan dodged her kick as easily as he’d dodged the others, stepping out of range while Veronyka stalked after him.

“Why don’t we pick this up tomorrow?” he asked, panting slightly. Only just slightly. Meanwhile, Veronyka was a sweating, gasping mess.

She wanted to answer him—no, they couldn’t wait until tomorrow. The final details from the attack on the Eyrie had trickled in over the past few weeks, putting numbers and names to the deaths, damages... and the missing.

And this was just the start.

Things were going to get worse before they got better; the empire wouldn’t forget them after such a narrow defeat... and Veronyka had to be ready. She’d been practicing as hard as she could, pushing herself in flying and weapons and yes, combat. It was her weakest skill and therefore required the most effort and attention.

Veronyka had to make sure that when the empire returned—when the next battle was fought—she wouldn’t be sidelined. And the only way to guarantee that didn’t happen was to become a Master Rider. To pass the very tests Tristan had struggled with weeks before—and had trained months to conquer.

Despite her skill in flying and her powerful animal magic, Veronyka was so far behind in combat, so utterly out of her element, that it was all she could do to remain on her feet.

But she wouldn’t give up. Couldn’t.

In response to Tristan’s offer to quit for the day, Veronyka tightened her mental walls and kicked again.

Because it wasn’t just the combat that had Veronyka struggling. She couldn’t fight Tristan like she could the others, because while her shadow magic was always reaching for minds and hearts, when it came to Tristan, it was like water being sucked down a whirlpool. She had to actively fight it, aware that every touch, every moment of eye contact, might be the thing that broke them both wide open. It was like fighting two opponents at once.

Tristan shook his head with a slight smirk, leaping effortlessly out of reach.

Veronyka swallowed, her throat dry as the sand under her feet, and tried to focus.

For weeks now, the combat lessons had been her worst, the things she dreaded most of all. There was no one for her to match up with, no one the same size and skill level. So she took a constant beating. Her only advantages were her speed and the fact that she was a small target.

She was also unpredictable. Not on purpose, but from lack of expertise. Occasionally, it worked in her favor, catching her opponents off guard.

Everyone except for Tristan. When they sparred, sometimes it felt like he was the one with shadow magic. He anticipated her moves so easily, was able to counterstrike flawlessly, and adapted almost instantly to everything she threw at him.

Of course, if she really wanted to win, she could open her mind to him and anticipate his every thought and movement. Like she had during the attack on the Eyrie. Their connection had been heady and powerful, but then they’d been working together to achieve a goal. She’d also lost consciousness when she’d let their bond get away from her outside the breeding enclosure the day before that. It was too dangerous, and it was also exactly the kind of thing her sister, Val, would do.

Veronyka shook her head. The more she opened herself to him, the more she opened herself to Val—and that was the last thing she needed right now.

Veronyka just had to get one win under her belt for the day, one win so she could go to dinner with her head held high.

Most fights ended by a person getting hit with a pin or hold, taking too much damage to continue, or being shoved from the ring. So far, Tristan had managed to pin her three times and knock her out of the chalk the other two.

As he regained his balance across the ring, Veronyka studied him.

Underneath the padding he wore his usual training gear, the fitted tunic and worn leather as much a part of him as his curling brown hair and dimpled smile. There was a difference in him, though, a sense of surety that wasn’t there before. The battle for the Eyrie had changed him—it had changed them all—and he seemed more confident in himself now, though the only difference in his outward appearance was a strip of red-dyed leather that wrapped around his biceps, indicating his position as a patrol leader, and a fine white scar that split his bottom lip—a souvenir from the attack.

“Come on, Tristan,” called Anders from the sidelines, grinning widely. “Put this apprentice in her place.”

The others laughed and jeered, and Tristan’s jaw clenched. He’d never been great at handling teasing, and since Anders’s taunt was technically directed at her, Tristan was taking it even worse than usual.

Veronyka knew the words were meant in fun. Anders and Tristan had only recently been elevated from apprentices, after all, but there were others who she suspected enjoyed the heckling with more malice. Latham, another apprentice turned Master Rider, smirked from just behind Anders, a coldly amused glint in his eye, and Fallon’s second-in-command, Darius, whispered behind his hand into his patrol leader’s ear. Many of them had been distant toward her ever since she’d revealed the fact that she was Veronyka, not Nyk, and she could tell they were suspicious of her closeness with Tristan. Even now... the masters rarely trained with the apprentices—at least not like this, one-on-one—but Tristan was helping Veronyka because she’d asked him when her lessons were done. The others saw it as favoritism, as special treatment. Maybe even something more.

“Shut it, Anders,” Tristan practically growled, tossing his sweat-soaked hair off his forehead in agitation.

“Or stuff it at dinner,” Veronyka piped up, trying to defuse the situation. Anders guffawed, but he didn’t leave. Nobody did.

Veronyka and Tristan had sparred together often and knew each other’s habits and tendencies probably better than they knew their own. Tristan was a careful fighter, observant and thoughtful about his attacks, learning his opponent before he made a move. But he could be baited. Anders had just proven that.

If Tristan could be lured into making a mistake, Veronyka might be able to squeak out of this with a win.

Still, she hesitated. While Tristan was calm and disciplined, Veronyka was wild and impatient—and he knew it. It was usually her fault she lost; Tristan just watched and waited for her to mess up, then capitalized on whatever opening or vulnerability she presented. But in order to bait him, she had to make a move.

Because of her short height, Veronyka favored kicks over punches, her legs having a farther reach than her arms. Skirting around him and angling her body, Veronyka prepared for a left kick to Tristan’s ribs. She avoided his eyes—it was the surest way to open a shadow magic connection—and kept her gaze on Tristan’s upper body, the angle of his shoulders and the position of his hands, held loosely at his sides.

As soon as her knees bent and her foot left the ground, Tristan’s muscles tensed—his right arm tightening, preparing to block the blow, while his shoulders turned, angling his body away from her.

But Veronyka didn’t kick. At least, not from her feet. She dropped into a crouch at the last second and swung out her foot with a kick aimed at Tristan’s legs, not his torso.

She glanced up in time to see his eyes bug out and his body twist as he tried to adapt.

Veronyka’s foot struck Tristan’s calf, and the crowd that surrounded them oohed as his leg was taken out from underneath him.

But rather than falling backward out of the circle—her true goal—or collapsing onto his side, Tristan fell forward.

Onto her.

She’d only managed to clip one of his legs as he’d tried to leap over her kick, and now Tristan was stumbling toward her, and her only choice was to roll to the side.

She missed his impact with the ground by inches, but was defenseless as she tried to get away.

He leapt onto Veronyka’s exposed back, slipping his arms around her middle and across her chest. Hands locked together, he gave a hard pull, drawing them both backward into the sand. In the blink of an eye he had turned her attack into his dominant position. As he lay on his back with Veronyka pinned against his chest, Tristan was a heartbeat away from pressing his forearm against her windpipe in a choke hold. She scrambled to the side, making the angle more difficult, but Tristan took the new opportunity she presented by throwing his leg over her body and climbing on top of her.

Veronyka squirmed, kicking and taking wild swings at his head, forcing him to duck and cover, but he still managed to get into position, his thighs on either side of her hips as he straddled her.

Being close like this caused Veronyka’s mental barriers against him to shake and tremble. Her magic wanted him, reached for him often, seeking any excuse to strengthen their link. There were certain triggers—eye contact, touch, and sensory details like smell and sound—that weakened her walls one stone at a time. Add them all together, and it was an assault her mind couldn’t withstand.

He lowered his head toward her chest, making it impossible for her to strike him as he got inside her guard. He was adjusting his position, regaining his balance, her wildly flailing legs no longer unseating him.

His heavy breath rang in her ears, his chest rising and falling and pressing against her own. His damp tunic and sweat-curled hair smelled of soap and salt and sunshine—smelled of Tristan—and Veronyka tried her best to jerk away. But he was holding her fast, and when she lifted her face and their eyes met, the stones of her mental walls came crumbling down.

The link between them burst open, as swift and certain as river water cascading through a dam. Her magic surged, and her mind filled with his thoughts, so loud and clear that they drowned her own.

He was aware of her in the same way she was aware of him. Her smell, her feel—all of it put Tristan on high alert, but not for the same reasons his presence rattled her. Well, not entirely. It wasn’t just shadow magic she protected against, wasn’t just a mental connection she feared.

Heedless of the consequences, Veronyka shoved at Tristan’s chest, twisting and squirming—panicked and desperate for escape.

But her recklessness made her vulnerable, as she’d known it would. She realized with frustration that she’d exposed herself to an arm lock, and her breath hitched as she waited for Tristan to seize the chance. All he had to do was shift his weight, reposition himself so they were perpendicular to each other, then grab her wrist and pull against his chest, hyperextending the elbow. A simple move; a second’s work.

Only, he didn’t.

Tristan was frozen, and Veronyka frowned at him a moment before bucking her hips, sending him off-balance and slipping to the side. She squirmed out from underneath him and turned around, watching as he got slowly to his feet.

Silence had descended over the training yard, heavy with confusion. Tristan had let her go, had let the chance to pin her pass him by. He’d even let her get back to her feet.

He was panting now, sand stuck to the sweat coating his forearms and legs.

Their eyes met again, but she didn’t need their mental connection to confirm her suspicions.

He’d wanted to shelter her from the pain and humiliation of losing in front of all the others.

He’d wanted to protect her.

It reminded her of when he’d tried to keep her out of the fighting during the attack on the Eyrie; it reminded her of Commander Cassian keeping the Riders locked up safe while the world around them fell apart. Worst of all, it made her think of Val, always supposedly “protecting” her, so thoroughly and so fiercely that Val wound up hurting Veronyka far worse than if she’d just let Veronyka know the truth, if she’d just treated her as an equal.

Anders and the others were watching, and there was no way they’d missed his hesitation. Tristan had gone easy on her, and they all knew it.

With something like a snarl, Veronyka lunged for Tristan. He had no choice not to fight her now, no opportunity to waver.

He absorbed her attack, using her momentum against her. Twisting his upper body—and hers along with it—he threw her over his hip, sending her flat to her back on the sand.

The wind was knocked from her lungs, and as she struggled to her feet, she saw the chalk line underneath her.

She’d been tossed from the ring. Veronyka let her head fall back to the ground, her eyes squeezed shut.

Zero for six.

Later, Veronyka took out her frustration in the saddle. It was what she did most nights when she couldn’t sleep.

As an apprentice, she was supposed to sleep in the barracks inside the stronghold, and Xephyra inside the Eyrie. That separation was a part of Rider training, meant to strengthen the bond over distance, but Veronyka hated it. She always slept better next to Xephyra and had tried to sleep inside the Eyrie more than once, but was usually shooed off by Ersken, who did late-evening and early-morning rounds. Veronyka and Tristan often spent time at night on the ledge outside his rooms, cleaning armor or just hanging out with their bondmates. One time Veronyka accidentally fell asleep there after Tristan had gone in to bed, and it hadn’t been Ersken who’d discovered her, but the commander himself. His suspicious look—and curious glance at his son’s closed door—told her she’d better get out of there quick and avoid such a run-in in the future. People already gave them strange looks for their close friendship, which had begun when she was a stable boy and now culminated with her being a girl, an apprentice with a full-grown mount, and his underwing. She didn’t need the rumor that she slept outside his door like a lovesick puppy dog added to the mix.

Veronyka had slept in the barracks ever since, and instead focused on strengthening her bond to Xephyra, particularly pushing their ability to communicate. Not only did they constantly test their range, but Veronyka also pushed her phoenix to use words when communicating rather than just thought and feeling. It was partly to keep their link strong and secure while they were separated, but also because of what had happened with Val after Xephyra’s death. It sickened Veronyka to know that not only had Val manipulated Veronyka’s connection to her bondmate to control Xephyra, but that Veronyka herself hadn’t felt Xephyra’s return because she’d blocked all thoughts of her phoenix to ease her own pain. If she’d been open, if their bond had been stronger and their ability to communicate more honed... maybe Veronyka would have known about Xephyra’s resurrection sooner.

They practiced all day, sending words to each other whenever they were apart—eating or sleeping or distracted by other things—but the best test of their bond always came when they practiced together. Exercises like the obstacle course Tristan had done to finish out his apprenticeship were such an example, but Veronyka wasn’t there yet in her training. Besides, she and Xephyra both preferred flying.

Veronyka waved to the perimeter guards and the Rider on patrol—currently Beryk—but everyone was well used to her late-night flights by now. She and Xephyra soon arrived at their destination, a practice course called Soth’s Fury. The series of caves were filled with tight, narrow spaces that tested a Rider’s ability to maneuver at high speeds, and they’d installed targets throughout to make a challenging run for any would-be warrior to hit them with arrow or spear.

Veronyka loved Soth’s Fury, and she and Xephyra were getting better and better at navigating its darkest depths.

Ready? Veronyka asked as they approached the mouth of the caves.

Xephyra didn’t reply so much as give a surge of excitement and adrenaline. An obvious yes, but Veronyka pushed her to communicate more clearly.

Words, Xephyra, Veronyka pressed.

Xephyra huffed beneath her. Aeti, she said at last.

Veronyka rolled her eyes, fighting back a grin. Whenever Xephyra grew tired of Veronyka’s constant pushing, she rebelled. In this instance, choosing to reply in ancient Pyraean rather than common Trader’s Tongue.

You think this is funny? Veronyka asked, going for stern but not quite managing it. There was no hiding your emotions from your own bondmate, after all.

Sia, Xephyra replied smugly. That was a northern Arborian dialect that she’d picked up from Anders, who sang old Arborian songs to the other Riders and translated them for anyone who’d listen. Most people didn’t, but apparently Xephyra did.

Are you finished? Veronyka asked, the gaping mouth of the entrance drawing steadily nearer.

Verro. That was... Ferronese, maybe? How Xephyra had picked that up, Veronyka had no idea. She couldn’t help it; she laughed as they dove down into the dark.

Veronyka had flown through the caverns many times and felt comfortable there, despite the dank echoes and shifting shadows that made it a somewhat spooky place. There were targets positioned at intervals within the caves, providing a variety of different shots for a mounted archer to hit. They were metallic, so they reflected sunlight—or phoenix fire—but were still difficult to spot, not to mention the fact that some were better suited to a spear throw or even a short sword or dagger, if the Rider was daring enough to fly so close.

And Veronyka was.

Her favorite part of the course was a stretch of targets that alternated between those she could hit on phoenix-back and those she could only hit on foot—partially obscured by rocky outcrops or tilted at an impossible angle. To get them all, the Rider must leap from their phoenix’s back, run across uneven rocky ground to strike the target, then leap back onto their bondmate to grab their bow and continue on to the next target. It was nearly impossible, and required pinpoint precision and top-notch communication.

Veronyka gripped her reins as they barreled through the narrow opening. They weren’t true reins—they didn’t lead to a bridle and bit in Xephyra’s mouth like a horse’s reins did—but were meant to act as handholds and restraints, allowing inexperienced Riders to remain safely attached to their mounts during flight, and for more advanced flyers, they allowed a Rider to stand or reposition themselves. Veronyka had seen Fallon, the second patrol leader, fly upside down, using his reins to hold his body tight to his phoenix, defying gravity.

Veronyka was usually a no-nonsense flyer during lessons and drills, but after her failure in the ring today, she was determined to push herself and try her hand at some theatrical acrobatics of her own.

They moved swiftly into the labyrinthine caves, the stony walls closing in on them. They were smooth and high, like columns of dripping wax, while spiky stalagmites rose from the ground, some so large they had to be dodged as they whipped past. The shadows grew thick and cool around them, while trickles of water could be heard in the distance, remnants of some long-ago river rush.

Veronyka withdrew her bow, and through the bond she told Xephyra which targets she wanted and in what order, loosing arrow after arrow into the metallic bull’s-eyes. Since it was pitch-black in the caverns, Xephyra emitted a faint glow to light the way.

Soth’s Fury was divided into three courses in varying levels of difficulty, and though she knew it was foolish, Veronyka followed the most challenging route, each target marked by a circle of vivid purple paint around its edge like the tips of Xephyra’s plumage.

While the start was easy enough, the course became more difficult with every target they passed. Up ahead, the stretch of concealed targets loomed, and Veronyka braced herself.

Telling Xephyra to slow her pace ever so slightly, Veronyka tightened her handhold and carefully pulled her feet from the stirrups until she was squatting on Xephyra’s back. Her phoenix flapped her wings as little as possible, keeping her flight steady, but still Veronyka wobbled and struggled for balance.

The first concealed target appeared, tucked into a crevice above a narrow ledge and hidden behind a stalagmite that jutted from the ground. Veronyka braced herself, waiting.

Now, she said to Xephyra, leaping to the right as her phoenix flew left, just missing the stalagmite by inches. Veronyka slipped and stumbled as she tried to regain her footing, but she couldn’t slow down—momentum was all that was keeping her on such a scant foothold. She careened forward, whipping out a dagger and hitting the target with a resounding thud, before hurtling past it and leaping out into the empty air of the cavern.

But then Xephyra was there, as Veronyka had known she would be. She slammed hard into the saddle, but even the pain couldn’t dim the feeling of triumph coursing through her veins.

Xephyra swung her neck around to look at Veronyka, and her dark eyes danced with fiery pleasure.

Good? she asked, turning back around and soaring gracefully between rocky spires.

Aeti, Veronyka replied, and Xephyra crooned.

Afterward, they sat on their favorite slab of stone and watched as the sun began to rise in the distance.

Veronyka leaned against Xephyra, her body exhausted and her thoughts still, finally finding the peace she failed to get alone at night. After a while something stirred in the back of her mind, and Veronyka knew that Tristan was awake.

Just like that, her peace was shattered.

Everything about her bond to Xephyra made Veronyka feel better, stronger, and more alive. Her bond to Tristan did too. But she couldn’t let it. Being bonded to another human was dangerous.... Veronyka had learned that lesson the hard way. She kept trying to forget about it, kept hoping that it would resolve itself or fade into the background. Tristan deserved to know that a magical link existed between them that gave her insight into his thoughts and feelings, but it was hard to face telling him that without any words of comfort or reassurance.

Why, yes, Tristan, I can hear your thoughts and sense your feelings—and no, I have no idea how to stop it. You’re scared? Me too.

Veronyka knew nothing of shadow magic and only the barest fragments of how to strengthen or weaken its power. The only person who had the answers she sought was Val, and reaching out to her was a risk Veronyka couldn’t take.

She glanced down at her wrist, where a braided bracelet sat. It was her own hair she’d cut off weeks ago, black and shining with a heavy coat of pyraflora resin, along with a single braid of Val’s vibrant red. There among the strands were beads and trinkets Veronyka had collected throughout her childhood, as well as a single, heavy golden ring.

It belonged to Val—or rather, Avalkyra Ashfire, the fierce warrior queen who had died almost two decades before and had been resurrected into the girl Veronyka had until recently thought was her sister.

The ring was tied into the braids so that only the simple golden band was visible, while the front, with Avalkyra Ashfire’s seal, was hidden from view.

The revelation that her sister, Val, wasn’t her sister at all had left Veronyka feeling utterly lost and adrift. Family had always been a fraught concept for her—how could it not be, with someone like Val as a sibling?—but at least she’d known where she belonged and who she was, however unimportant. Now that she’d discovered her maiora who’d raised her was actually Ilithya Shadowheart, Avalkyra Ashfire’s spymaster, and that Val was actually the Feather-Crowned Queen herself, Veronyka had to question everything she’d ever been told about her life. And the most pressing question of all? If Val was Avalkyra Ashfire, then who was Veronyka?

Only Val knew for sure, and she was not only elusive and self-serving—she was dangerous. Veronyka had seen firsthand what Val could do with shadow magic, and she feared opening herself up to her once-sister. What if Val just fed her more lies? What if Val sent more jarring dreams and memories? What if she didn’t, and Veronyka never, ever learned the whole truth?

And what if Val tried to take hold of Xephyra again? Veronyka knew it was possible, and she was more aware than ever of the complicated web that shadow and bond magic wove between her and the ones she cared about.

Like Xephyra. And Tristan.

Veronyka knew she had to protect herself, but she had to protect them most of all.

And the best way to do that—the only way she knew how to do that—was to block Val out completely. To block shadow magic completely.

To pretend neither existed.

But as Veronyka mounted up and headed back to the Eyrie—Tristan’s presence a warm glow in her mind and heart and Val’s a cold shadow that followed her everywhere she went—she knew that to block shadow magic was to block animal magic, to block Xephyra, and that was something Veronyka simply couldn’t do.

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Heart of Flames 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 25 reviews.
Anonymous 16 days ago
The time has finally came! Weighing in at around 600 pages, Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto will be released on 11 Feb 2020. With that being said...here are my thoughts (vaguely as you do NOT want to be spoiled and miss out on what this book has to offer). Starting out, I was captured. The first chapter begins with Veronyka and Tristian begin with training for hand-to-hand combat. The bond between the two are beautiful and it breaks my heart to not see them well off right from the start. A coming of age story about finding strength in leadership and control in power, each character finds their way. The world building this book has is AMAZING. Between almost each chapter, there are excerpts from letters during or before the Blood War and Ancient Pryan writings. This helps the reader to understand the world a bit more and has insights on the past and it's influence on the current setting. In Heart of Flames, we learn more about shadow magic. Before, we only knew what Veronyka knew. This time we learn about the ability to communicate, command, and essentially bond one's mind to another's. The relationships between the characters we see is beautiful, even Xephrya and Rex. There are more perspectives in this book, adding Elliot and Val. There is a slight take away from Tristian but not enough to hurt. Ultimately, I am so excited for the third installment. The biggest compliment you can give an author is that you wanted more. I wanted so much more and for it not to be over when it was. This is a beautiful book that shows strength and heart. It shows that in the darkest of shadows, there is hope and light. Sometimes that light can burn, but when you have powerful phoenixes around, keep the fire coming. And for that Heart of Flames should have gotten more than 5 stars. I would recommend this series to anyone!!
lillanaa 1 days ago
I picked up this series entirely because of this ARC, and I think I'm hooked now. Everything from the world, to the politics, to the characters leaves me wanting so much more; in the best way possible. I'm so insanely glad they made this into a trilogy instead of a duology, because Pau Preto's world building is so beautiful on top of having a great group of protagonists, and somewhat believable slowburn romance that I'm thankful wasn't as forced as I was expecting it to be. Tristan continues to be my absolute favourite, surprising absolutely no one who knows me, but I also felt a strong attachment to Sparrow in this one. She absolutely didn't deserve the pain she's been through, but... It doesn't seem like the author is using tragedy as a plot point, and I'm glad for it. A lot of stories that include war have far too much of a hinging point on that, and it gets boring quite fast. Sev and Kade coming back in the way they did caught me off guard, but I'm glad for it, and the fact that there's an LGBT romance is definitely a huge bonus. One other bonus, and this is one that only comes from some of the books I've read in the last year, is that death isn't being used as a plot point. It's striking, when it does happen, and it's not being used just to develop a character and cause trauma. I'm thankful that this book didn't fall into that trope either, which is so common in the genre. I'm rambling now, but... This book is definitely one I'd recommend. Pick it up if you're into good teen fantasy.
GrownupFangirl 7 days ago
Five flaming stars!!! This book was pure perfection! The perfect follow up to CROWN OF FEATHERS. If you have ever found yourself picking up the next book of a beloved series, you definitely know that feeling of worry that the sequel won't be as amazing as the first book and can't possibly live up to your expectations. You think there’s just no way the author can match or top how you felt about that first experience with their characters. Worry not! I’m here to say this is not the case with HEART OF FLAMES. Nicki dives deeper into the world of The Golden Empire. We get to explore histories, characters and the world itself in a way that we didn't during CROWN OF FEATHERS. We get to see Pyra through a couple new POV's, and one in particular had me especially giddy. The different points of view really help with tracking several subplots within the story. The love interests that were established in CoF start to heat up in HoF (see what I did there?). There was a lot of foreshadowing romantic feelings in CoF, but they never really came to fruition. It was exciting to watch those relationships begin to unfold and I would still say that it's appropriate for a younger audience, think PG-13. This book is a beast at over 600 pages. It took me quite a while to get through but I never really felt like it was dragging on, if that makes sense? I felt like all of the pages and points of view had a significant purpose. I thoroughly enjoyed every second of reading HEART OF FLAMES. The end made me gasp out loud then immediately flip back through some of the epigraphs and history snippets (aka interstitials... but who even knows that word anyways?) to see if I had missed something. NOPE, Nicki got me and in the best way possible. The wait for Crown of Feathers book 3 is going to be long, but oh so worth it.
Anonymous 7 days ago
Crown of Feathers was one of my favourite books of 2019 and I love it so much. Heart of Flames is no different. All the same characters are back with their own POV chapters, Veronyka, Tristan, Sev and Val, and now we get Elliot chapters! And a surprise character chapter at the end that was perfect and sad and ow my heart. First I have to say, that I am so excited Sparrow is back. She is the best. So sweet and fun and I’m glad she gets a chance to hang out some more. I’m also glad that Elliot gets a chance to redeem himself and prove he’s useful. Sparrow and Elliot’s friendship is also adorable and I love it. I’m really glad that these characters get more time. Sev and Kade are probably my favourite pair. So awkward and wonderful. I love their chapters and I was heart broken and mad at one point, and I’m not going to ruin it, but I was mad and needed to know what was going to happen and I had to wait like 12 chapters until we got back to Sev. ahhughh I like that Val has more chapters too. I like learning how her mind works. She’s such a great villain. oh! And the ending. Amazing. Love that. Can’t wait for book three. Holy crap. I’m so ready for more chaos and phoenix’s and Sev and Kade. I can’t believe I have to wait a whole nother year. ah Overall, I love this. I loved the first one and this one and the covers are pretty.
CurrentChapter 7 days ago
(I won an ARC in an Instagram giveway) It is no secret that I usually don't like romance in fantasy books, but I can say that Heart of Flames did the romance exactly the way that I would want it to be. It is not the focus of the book by any means, we have the phoenixes, the family struggles, the spying, the phoenixes, the beautiful world, the twisty revelations (oooooh they are twisty!), the phoenixes (there are many). However, the romance stuck to me because I feel like when it's "obvious" that a romance will happen, the author usually makes it too deep too soon, but that didn't happen with this book. It's a slow burn, sure, but it's much more than that, you can feel the angst and, most importantly to me, the friendship building. On top of that, I felt like Veronyka developed so much and became a person that I am very interested to see in the final book! And the ending makes me want the third book as soon as possible, please!
Anonymous 7 days ago
Wow, what a ride! I think the best way to sum up this (incredible) sequel to Crown of Feathers is to call it a major case of emotional whiplash. I personally thrive in learning about the magic systems, politics, etc. of the books I’m reading and Heart of Flames did not disappoint. This book took what we learned in Crown of Feathers and amped it up by 100. We also get some new perspectives that allow an even more detailed look into every angle of this world and this story. We also get not one, but TWO of the slowest burns I’ve ever experienced in couples. Nicki is truly a queen of writing romance. This book made me laugh out loud, cry my heart out, and even gasp at a few points. I could not have loved it more and I am SO excited for the third book.
sometragedy 8 days ago
I can’t even express to you how much I loved this sequel. So often I find myself reading the second book in a trilogy and being less impressed by it. They suffer from middle book syndrome where the plot almost lulls and just builds up to the conclusion, which all too often makes me not give a lick about it when the final book comes out. That was not the case with Heart of Flames. You cannot douse a fire by throwing water at its flames. You have to go to the embers, the kindling – the heart. – Nicki Pau Preto, Heart of Flames Everything I loved about the world building in Crown of Feathers was amplified with this sequel. We got to go back to some old places and some new. We learned even more about the mythology and history of this world, and we were introduced to so many new players on the board. Now… don’t get me wrong… I’m a sucker for world-building and this installment did not disappoint by any means. The story picks up after the Battle of the Eyrie. Veronyka and Tristan are trying to figure out their place in this new world and with each other as they prepare for the war that’s at their doorsteps. We get to see how Sev steps up and into his role working with his fellow animages and against the Golden Empire. We already know and love this trio – but we also get a couple new POV’s (we have 5 in total)… but I won’t say who for spoilers. We were not mean to orbit one another, or to pass in and out of each other’s skies. We were always destined to college, leaving heartbreak and desolation in our wake. – Nicki Pau Preto, Heart of Flames I also can’t get through a review without mentioning our favourite fiery friends. Xephyra and Rex are everything. And for spoilery reasons I’m just going to say… THAT ENDING. Seriously, if you haven’t read these books yet, I don’t know what you’re doing. I literally can’t get my hands on book three fast enough. ★★★★★
BWE 8 days ago
Holy Phoenix Fire! This book. THIS BOOOOOK! A little part of me was afraid that I had possibly worked HoF up in my head though because of my involvement on the street team,but no. It deserves all the hype and more!! This book is a spectacular example of High Fantasy at its best. Nicki Pau Preto knows exactly how to keep readers engaged and on the edge of their seats, this reader included! This is quite the feat seeing as HoF is over 600 pages long. But while reading it didn't feel like it was a long book (except when I fell asleep reading and it fell on my face). The story moved at a good pace, with the exact right amount of action and romance and background detail. I will be the first to admit that the first book was a tad dense at times with history, but it was absolutely needed then to get readers fully immersed in this world. The build up from the first book was so helpful going into this one because I understood this place Nicki had created in such a way that I was eager to learn more. Now the history became utterly fascinating and I couldn't help but see how relevant it was and how it all tied the plot together. One of the coolest things about Heart of Flames is that it is almost like you're reading several books at once and yet they all fit perfectly. Nicki has weaved these intricate tales in such a way that it is mindboggling that she hasn't lost track of them nor has she let the reader lose them, which is incredible. This book has five different character perspectives in the regular chapters. Then there are the documents scattered throughout that are also telling us a unique tale that will be (I'm hoping) important to the third book. I love these because it makes the whole thing feel real. Like these are real people, not just characters. They have birth certificates, and wrote letters to family, and have family trees! It is astounding the amount of relevant details that were added (shout out to Nicki's editor who just kept saying “give me more!” Bless you for letting Nicki do what she wanted!) And then there are the epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter that is in itself another story. I don't think I could ever get tired of reading these books because of the high level of world building. If I had my say these books would be studied in writing classes as a prime example of the craft! I mentioned the five different POVs! Oh gosh, these characters are almost like friends to me at this point. I bleed when they do, I laugh along, I feel their heartbreaks and triumphs. I get incredibly stressed when reading the plot because of how it is written in the different POVs so sometimes the reader knows more than the characters do and I wish I could WARN them. Twists and turns and betrayals riddle this book and I care SO MUCH. It is rare for me to be invested in plot but these stakes are high. Nothing feels out of place or forced. It all just flows so nicely along. Nicki is a master planner. My all time favorite thing about Heart of Flames though, and what drew me to the books originally is the Phoenixes. I work with birds so to read a book that focuses on animals makes my rehabber heart very happy. Throughout this book the plot allowed for more time with the phoenxies and I loved it. I love how they are written with such big personalities. I love that they love their riders so much. I love that they play and interact with each other. I love that they have ATTITUDES. Xephyra and Rex are my favorite characters!
MkMason 8 days ago
Heart of Flames continues the story of Veronyka and her older sister Val. Veronyka is continuing to fight against Val and fight with the Phoenix Riders in the Eyrie. Her close relationship with Tristan is starting to bloom and Veronyka wants nothing more than to prove herself as a Phoenix Rider. When more of Val's plans are revealed, and some details of Veronyka's background are discovered, Veronyka must decide which side she fights for. I loved Crown of Feathers. I believe Heart of Flames suffers from middle book syndrome, where so much of it is spent to set up the plot in the third book. Parts were long an tedious, ripe with historical information, names, and events that are just too much to remember and keep in. The plot limped along with some moments of action and intrigue, only to flip to a different POV and have the excitement fizzle. There are so many POV's that it is hard to keep track at times, and some events are told more than once through a different perspective. It's a little much, and is confusing when being read in an ebook format. I wanted to be able to go back easily and reference past parts. Honestly, I am still buying this book. I love the characters SO MUCH. I ship Veronyka and Tristan, Sev and Kade until the end of time. As much as I think this book paled in comparison to Crown of Feathers in terms of plot, we get to see SO MUCH character development from everyone involved. This was the part I loved most abotu Heart of Flames, and I'm eager to see what happens in the third installment.
Yolanda Margolin 9 days ago
Thank you to Simon Pulse and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this eARC. I enjoyed the first book in this series, Crown of Feathers, but for some reason, I could not get into this second book, Heart of Flames. Maybe it’s a mood read kind of thing, maybe I’ll reread in the future and enjoy it more. Things pick up where it leaves off in book one. Val’s identity is revealed and the tension between the empire and the Phoenix Riders have grown. There is a spy, Sev, who is taking a very big risk. Tristan and Veronyka’s relationship grow further and my favorite characters, the phoenixes are back! This sequel is more in depth but for some reason failed to hold my attention. What I Liked: *I love the covers so far in this series, all that fire and flames. It’s gorgeous! *The phoenixes of course! They are my favorite part of the story because they are awesome beings who can communicate. Reading this series makes me want to be a phoenix rider too! *The world building is so detailed and vivid, the author does a good job at making it all come to life. *Veronyka and Tristan’s relationship is growing but it has it’s frustrating moments. The romance doesn’t overtake the story which is nice because they have a bigger mission at hand but it was nice to get more acknowledgement between them about their feelings. Also the other relationship that I enjoy a lot is Sev and Kade. Sev is taking a big risk being a spy and the two of them have gone through some tough events together. Love that they are together again in this book. Things That Made Me Go Hmm: *I was just bored reading this story. I was slugging through the beginning and started not to care about Veronyka and Val’s history. And for me this felt like too long a read, especially when my interest started to wane. I read the first book in one sitting, but this installment I picked up and put down so many times. *There are many characters in this book and they are all pretty fleshed out which is great, but because it jumped from one perspective to the other, I lost interest. Usually, I enjoy different perspectives but for some reason this one didn’t cut it for me. Final Thoughts: I skimmed a lot of the ending of this book unfortunately because I just wanted to finish but my interest was gone by the halfway mark. I might pick this up later again when I’m in the mood to read about phoenixes because that is my favorite part about this series, the magical creatures and their bond with their riders! But I know a lot of people will enjoy this sequel but for me, it fell flat.
PalmKD 11 days ago
Continuing the excitement from Crown of Feathers, Heart of Flames was a fantastic read and I can’t wait to see how the trilogy ends. Heart of Flames is the second book in the Crown of Feathers series. This is an epic fantasy, set in a world which was once ruled by phoenix riding warrior queens until an epic war between the empire and the phoenix riders torn everything apart. The world building is wonderful and enriched with lore and myths surrounding creation of phoenixes and stories of this world’s gods. Like in most worlds conquered and reconquered the empire tried to squash the phoenix rider culture and iconography, but they couldn’t defeat it all. The myths and stories are still there; we learn about them as we read the story and uncover more of the violent history of this world. As this is a sequel it’s hard to say much about the plot without spoiling book one, I will just say that our main character, Veronyka, is a war orphan who dreams of being a phoenix rider like the fierce warrior queens of old. When she finally finds them, she does everything in her power to join them and make a new home. You also learn from the synopsis that Veroynka has a controlling sister and that the empire does not welcome the return of the phoenix riders, both major conflicts in the story. The second book is a wonderful continuation of the story and conflict from book one. We get some answers to some questions from book one and meet some new characters. As most second books do, it ends with even more conflict and questions which I am very much looking forward to seeing the resolution in the final book. I will say while there is a lot going on, it wasn’t a terrible painful cliffhanger ending which I appreciate very much! The magic in this world is very intriguing and a nice fit to the world. Phoenix riders are animages (animal mages) and animages are not treated so kindly throughout this world. With the outcome of the war, most animages had to go into hiding or face becoming a glorified slave to the empire. Overall, I strongly recommend this series. It has so many great moments and characters, and did I mention phoenix riders!? Review of an eARC, opinions are my own and I look forward to rereading this book in one of the two finished editions of it that I have purchased =)
bmbookcase 13 days ago
I didn’t think Nicki could possibly surpass the joy I got from the first reading of COF. There is something so magical and indescribable about learning a new world and new characters. I mainly read trilogies, but I almost always love the first book the best because of that initial awe. I say with intense certainty that I loved Heart of Flames more than Crown of Feathers, and let me tell you why. There will be some minor spoilers (more so for COF than HOF). The main reason this book, and this series, captures my heart so much is the characters. Nicki flawlessly molds these characters, from protagonist down to minor characters, that are real and thoughtful. Villain or not, I love all the people in this book. Veronyka, our main girl, is amazingly complex. She loves deeply and selflessly, but there are parts of her that want power. We see her grow from a victim living in her sister’s shadow to an independent woman fighting for the things and people she loves. She doesn’t see good and evil, but love in all capacities and redemption possibilities across the board. Tristan has a good heart, but also has lived most of his life in the shadows. There hasn’t been much he has been willing to fight for before Veronyka came into the picture. In this book, we see his growth the most. Tristan isn’t letting life just happen to him anymore. Sev wasn’t my favorite in book one. I liked him, but I was more investing in Veronyka’s and Tristan’s chapters. This book completely changed that for me. I lived for every Sev chapter and finding out not just what was happening with the war, but what was happening with him! There are many, many great cathartic moments in this book that I don’t want to give any hints to, so you’ll just have to read to find out! Finally, Val. My dear, dear Val who I would die for but also want to kill. She makes me feel the most conflicted. I love to hate her, but I also can’t entirely hate her. Maybe it’s because we see her through Veronyka’s eyes so often, but I want small victories and happiness for her. Does that make me a bad person?? 89AC06E1-2A0A-4985-8F16-F6AFFA6973AB.JPG Aside from the characters, the plot of this book feels so important. What’s happening isn’t small and insignificant, but it is affecting hundreds of innocent people and it’s a battle that needs to be won. I’ve always loved how Nicki works in Pyrean history, but I really feel a grasp on it in Heart of Flames. Now that I know that the universe well, the documents and letters make a lot more sense and really add meaning to everything that is happening. This isn’t just a struggle that is happening now, it’s years upon years in the making and everything is connected so artfully. I can’t grasp how Nicki has fit this entire world in her head for so long without exploding! The cleverness and real possibilities blow my mind. Are we positive Pyra and the Empire don’t exist and Nicki isn’t just a historian? My heart beats for this book. I won’t give away anymore because the beauty of this series is discovering it yourself and coming up with your own conclusions.
brittknee628 13 days ago
If you know me at all then you know how much I absolutely loved Crown of Feathers earlier this year and how much I adore Nicki Pau Preto. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to read an advanced copy of Heart of Flames and I will forever be grateful to Nicki because of it. Crown of Feathers was so good I didn't know how Nicki could possibly top it but she managed it, 100%. Heart of Flames is SO good. I've seen some reviews of Crown of Feathers that claim they didn't like Veronyka because she was too "naïve" but like, isn't that the point of the story? How else will she grow and develop as a character? In the beginning of Crown of Feathers Veronyka is a CHILD, she is literally only 16 and has not yet experienced the tragedies of life. Throughout the story she experiences loss, betrayal, love, war, and so much more that some people will never even experience in their lives. In my eyes I see her story as one of growth, not of being naïve. Fast forward to Heart of Flames and Veronyka's growth has exponentially increased. I see her as so much more than a 17 year old. She has become a leader, she is strong and confident, and while she still has some things to learn (don't we all though?), I think she is an admirable character and I have nothing but love for how her story and character development has progressed. In fact, all of the characters had incredible growth and change throughout Heart of Flames. This was a book of strength, and it was very character driven. We were able to learn so much more about our favorite characters and even our least favorite characters. A lot of books suffer the dreaded "second book syndrome" but I didn't see that at all with this one. If anything I liked this one even more than the first because of what it represents. That life goes on. All we can do is try and make the best decisions we can, and that no matter what, we have to face what comes from those choices. In addition to an incredible development on all of the characters we got see so much more of this magnificent world which everyone should know is one of my favorite things! If I can't imagine the world the story is in, count me out. The fact that we got to see high and low and every nook and cranny of Pyra made my heart absolutely swell. This book is 600+ pages and I honestly wish it was longer. I want more detail, I want more descriptions. Some books have an issue with details like this because they go over board and bog you down with pages and pages and pages of describing the same scene or scenery. Heart of Flames isn't like that though, yes this book is big but you don't need to be intimidated by it. There is a lot of detail but it's necessary to drive the plot forward. I am trying to be vague in my review because I know this book doesn't come out for 3 more months and the last thing I want to do is spoil it for you. If you take away anything from this I hope it is that this book is worth it. The beginning, middle, and end are all so beautifully well written it's hard not to fall in love with these characters and this story. I have nothing but wonderful things to say about Heart of Flames. All I can hope is that I have inspired you to give this book a chance, to support Nicki, read Crown of Feathers or if you already have then read Heart of Flames!
Hollibrary-Books 13 days ago
Nicki Pau Preto's debut CROWN OF FEATHERS was one of my favourite books last year, and the sequel HEART OF FLAMES is even better! Second books in trilogies can often feel like an extended journey across a bridge between the beginning and the end, but HEART OF FLAMES was such a gripping and compelling continuation of the story. It never felt like it was dragging, which is a particularly commendable feat for a book that's over 600 pages long! Part of what helps that pacing are the multiple narrators and perspectives. Each character has a distinct voice, and a distinct journey, and Pau Preto is an absolute master of weaving them together. The character development is also absolutely wonderful. In the same way that phoenixes come to rise from the ashes in which they are reborn, so too do the characters transform. At the end, no one is quite who they were at the beginning, in the best way. Pau Preto also masterfully handles the relationships between characters, be they familial or romantic. Elements of the story aside, one of the greatest triumphs for HEART OF FLAMES is seeing just how much Pau Preto has grown and improved her craft between her debut and sophomore novels. If CROWN OF FEATHERS were kindling, slowly stoking the fire, then HEART OF FLAMES is the blaze. It’s bright and it burns, and I cannot wait to see what is to come for all those who must pass through it’s flames. Also: PHOENIXES. I love the phoenixes so much. I highly, HIGHLY recommend this series to anyone looking for a character-driven high fantasy.
xLizaMarietVS 13 days ago
I received an ARC of this book, and it was absolutely incredible! An amazing ride from start to finish, and the perfect follow up to Crown of Feathers. Nicki Pau Preto has done a wonderful job of building her world and her characters. The story is full of magic, action, and even some romance. This is the perfect book for readers who enjoyed Game of Thrones, and I cannot wait to see what is next to come!
Dellybird 13 days ago
Heart of Flames is absolutely stunning. I am a huge YA fantasy fan and this book is probably the best YA fantasy that I have ever read. I was SO excited to get back to Veronyka, Val, Tristan, Sev and Sparrow. The character development in the novel is fantastic for both the main characters and the supporting characters. Nicki Pau Preto is a master of writing from multiple points of view. In her first book she wove together each individual narrative beautifully but Heart of Flames is on a whole new level. Heart of Flames is the sort of book that other YA fantasy books want to be. It has everything a fantasy lover could want in a book – a well thought out magic system, great pace, an interesting story, fantastically developed characters, masterful writing, disability and LGBT+ representation…. I loved every second of this book. It is lengthy but doesn’t feel it because it captures the reader so well. If you are a YA fantasy reader who enjoys high fantasy then I definitely recommend that you pick up this series.
bookishbrianna 13 days ago
I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Wow this book was even better than Crown of Feathers! It's unusual for me to like the second book in the series better than the first but I love when it happens. This book is filled with more phoenixes and magical creatures and we get to learn more about the world, it's history, and the magic. I loved all the character developments as well as the developments in the relationships. There are a lot of slow burn romances in this book which I absolutely loved. There are moments when characters I really care about are flung into dangerous situations and really stressed me out. I love all the characters we get to meet in this sequel and am excited to learn more about them as well as the world and the magic in the next book.
Magicwithinpages 13 days ago
“We were not meant to orbit one another, or to pass in and out of each other’s skies. We were always destined to collide, leaving heartbreak and desolation in our wake.” This is everything that I wanted in a second installment! I think most people know, if they read my reviews, I tend to struggle with the first books in series if they have a lot of set up. Crown of Feathers (the first book, would recommend) was no different. I struggled with the beginning and the different storylines. But with that being said, Heart of Flames was fantastic! I had no issues with the different perspectives or the beginning. In fact, the story jumped right where CoF left off and had my attention right away. We get more phoenix time, as well as more reveals on the history of the land and the riders themselves. The characters are all fabulous, all continuing to grow throughout the story. The readers get to see new strength and dimensions to each. The characters are relatable and likable, helping to connect the reader. The plot was exciting and got the reader ready for the third installment, which I need to read ASAP! There is so much revealed about the characters and the history that there is no dull moments throughout the book. There is a lot more action and information on the creatures and magic. It’s a fully packed book that will make you want to read till the end (and make you want a bondmate of your own). Which speaking of the end, it was fabulous! It will have you wanting the third book right then and there because your head will be spinning. Emotions will be flowing and the excitement will be real. I would most definitely recommend the YA fantasy series.
Anonymous 13 days ago
Heart of Flames is the perfect sequel to Crown of Feathers! I loved CoF so much, and I love HoF as equally, if not more. In HoF everything is expanded upon, and the world these character’s inhabit feels so much more richer. I loved getting to go back into the viewpoints of the main characters from CoF, while also really enjoying the new POVs we get. But there are primarily three things about this book that make me love it so much: the phoenixes, the shadow magic, and Val. In CoF the phoenixes sort of felt like pets (in a good way), but in Book 2 they feel like fully fleshed out characters, with personalities and distinct ways of communicating. I love the way the phoenixes react to each other, their bandmates (the person who they are magically connected to), and to people they are not connected to. I also love all of the shadow magic in this book. I thought I understood this kind of magic system after reading Crown of Feathers, but was pleasantly surprised when the system became so much more intricate and complex. This magic put stress on character relationships, and was a interesting barrier that the MC had to struggle with throughout the book, which I found very interesting. I also love Val. I don’t want to talk spoilers from the first book but Val is awesome. The best. Perfect in every way. I loved her in CoF (I can feel your judgement from here) but in Heart of Flames we get to see so much more of her, and see a lot more into her head, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE where she ends up at the end of this book and cannot wait to see what happens in the final book coming in 2021.
USOM 13 days ago
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) Heart of Flames defies words. It is a stunning sequel about the raging fire of obsession, the simmering flames of duty, and full of precious characters. Heart of Flames is a gripping sequel that will only stoke the fire of your love for Sev, Elliot, Tristan, Val, and Veronyka. Pau Preto is a master of multiple perspectives, ending each chapter on a hook, enticing us to keep reading until suddenly the book is finished. Overall, Heart of Flames is about love that borders on obsession, our desires to fix our past mistakes, and our need for transformation. Like phoenixes, in many ways Heart of Flames feels like all of our characters stand at a crossroads. Do we step into the flames of transformation or let our own fears consume us? These characters in Heart of Flames have my entire heart. It's one of those series where I love them all, even my favorite chaotic problem children. Full of character growth, Heart of Flames allows them to develop. Now that we may have our feet on the right path, it's the challenge of staying on it. To make the commitment every day to either go back to what's easy, who we used to be, or to blaze forward. We are all driven by our desires for connection, for family, or for revenge. The question is if we will let our own desire, our own ambition, swallow us whole. Once again Heart of Flames is full of world building. Introducing new myths and creatures, the world of phoenixes will entrance you. An important theme of Heart of Flames is the question of whether or not the bonds we have with people weaken or strengthen us. Those we love can be used against us, kidnapped or taken as tokens assuring our cooperation, but they can also inspire us, make us brave, strengthen our own skills. Letting people in is not a weakness and love freely given is worth more than it is taken.
LB_Reads 13 days ago
I absolutely loved Heart of Flames, it is by far one of the best sequels I have ever read. It picks up not long after the events of Crown of Feathers..The story is told from multiple PoVs , some are the same and some are new! I was really surprised by one of them! I was not expecting it. We all know that Nyk and Tristan are my favorite characters. I love them even more after HoF! They both grew so much in this book!! Val is still the one I love to hate. She reaches new lows , that I thought even she could not reach. Val is a tough person to love, she doesn’t think the way others do and wants things her way or no way. While Veronyka is easy to love , has a big heart ,and is willing to try new things. They are opposite sides of the same coin in a way. I am interested to see what will happen in book 3! I am still reeling over the events of HoF! I am so excited for the third book in the series!! I need to know what happens next, Nicki Pau Preto wrote one heck of a cliff hanger!! I had to sit and process it for a while after I finished it. I can not recommend this series enough! I love the fact that it is about Phoenixes! Phoenixes are one of my favorite mythical creatures, so having a whole series about them is a dream come true! ⠀
idealpages 13 days ago
The hotly anticipated sequel to Crown of Feathers catapults us back into the world of the Golden Empire and the legendary Phoenix Riders. I very rarely finish a book, and immediately want to reread it because I loved it with every fibre of my being. This happened here. Imagine the best rollercoaster you’ve ever been on, that had you like “I want to go again!” and that is the best summary of my feelings for Heart of Flames. Nicki Pau Preto spends a lot of time building upon the characters and the world she established in COF – from the villages the forces and armies visit, to the Golden Empire’s warring past – and continues to demonstrate her amazing ability to create such awesome imagery, like epic scenes of phoenixes dashing through the air. These amplifications also include the story’s magic system; COF established what being an animage entails, and HOF continues to bolster this and more by granting further insight into the use of shadow magic. Without a doubt all of these developments were exciting, engaging and cemented my love and awe for Pau Preto’s writing style and imagination even further. Heart of Flames upgrades our original narration from three alternating character perspectives to five alternating character perspectives, by introducing Val (Veronyka’s sister) and phoenix rider Elliot, who fell from grace in COF. Both were brilliant additions that brought powerful themes to the plot. The characters are vibrant and memorable; written with such prowess to make them likeable and relatable beyond measure. Sev embodies someone who’s evolved from being self-serving to selfless, and Veronyka is still our spunky heroine, but she’s on a journey to discover herself and where she comes from. Val’s voice grants us access to a darker mindset and past information, and Elliot presents us with a character who is lost, confused, and desperately seeking absolution. And Tristan contends with the pressure of fulfilling his duties as a patrol leader. My most absolute favourite parts of this story were our fiery feathered friends!!! I’m still freaking out over this, because Xephyra and Rex get even more focus in HOF. Pau Preto magnified attention on the phoenixes by illustrating their nature, temperaments and personalities and, particularly with Xephyra, more insight into the relationship between phoenix and rider too. This is hands down my favourite thing to come in HOF and I’m so grateful; I can’t get enough of these beautiful creatures. My romantic heart was so satisfied with HOF. They have been well developed and well-paced across COF and HOF for a natural and smooth progression, which made the payoff oh so worth it! Sev and Kade made my heart pound, and Tristan and Veronyka had my pulse racing. Heart of Flames makes me appreciate the stories that don’t just leave the mark of an enjoyable read, but create a bond to a story that is for life, which truly is a testament of how Pau Preto is a fantastic writer. And, as if the book couldn’t get more epic, the cliffhanger ending is jaw dropping insurance that the concluding instalment is not to be missed! I recommend this book series time and time again, it reintroduced me to my slumbering passion for the fantasy genre, and I hope people add it to their TBRs to appreciate its sheer brilliance. Thank you, Nicki, for creating these characters and this world.
TheCaffeinatedReader 13 days ago
I'm not going to lie, it took a lot of thinking for me to come up with some coherent thoughts for this review! The character development continues and it is such a beautiful thing to watch characters come so far from the first book to present. Veronyka and Sev, in particular, continue to have the best character development in my opinion. Sev is still trying to figure out what he can do best to help the cause he's dedicated to while Veronyka is showing an inner strength that's just astounding to see after say the beginning of Crown of Feathers. We also get new chapters from different characters and I think I enjoyed those the most! We're seeing more of Elliott and Sparrow and since Sparrow is my favorite character, I was definitely excited for that. The worldbuilding also continued to astound me, Nick Pau Preto is a master at it and we're getting to glimpse more of the lands that she's made for this trilogy and it's brilliant. Though Crown of Feathers was excellent I do have to say I think that I enjoyed Heart of Flames more. -More Phoenixes -More Val -More Sparrow -More lands
TheCaffeinatedReader 13 days ago
I'm not going to lie, it took a lot of thinking for me to come up with some coherent thoughts for this review! The character development continues and it is such a beautiful thing to watch characters come so far from the first book to present. Veronyka and Sev, in particular, continue to have the best character development in my opinion. Sev is still trying to figure out what he can do best to help the cause he's dedicated to while Veronyka is showing an inner strength that's just astounding to see after say the beginning of Crown of Feathers. We also get new chapters from different characters and I think I enjoyed those the most! We're seeing more of Elliott and Sparrow and since Sparrow is my favorite character, I was definitely excited for that. The worldbuilding also continued to astound me, Nick Pau Preto is a master at it and we're getting to glimpse more of the lands that she's made for this trilogy and it's brilliant. Though Crown of Feathers was excellent I do have to say I think that I enjoyed Heart of Flames more. -More Phoenixes -More Val -More Sparrow -More lands
Littlebookqueen 14 days ago
Holy wow! Everyone needs to bow down to the greatness that is Nicki Pau Preto. When I read Crown of Feathers earlier this year, I was blown away and fell in love with the characters and the world that Nicki has created. Heart of Flames has completely dazzled me... and I am not someone who uses the word dazzled. Heart of Flames picks up shortly after the ending of Crown of Feathers and takes off pretty quickly. Everyone is trying to adjust to life after the events of the previous book, some more successfully than others. The plot takes off pretty quickly and keeps going until the cliffhanger ending. I'm the type of person who can't stay awake past ten and found myself up until two in the morning with this book multiple times because I just COULD NOT put it down. There were so many extra little details that Nicki added in and I LOVED them! From family trees and crests to letters and documents from the past, these additions just built on what is already such an intriguing world. The amount of detail that has gone into this story is just astounding. Veronyka's character development in Crown of Feathers was great but, in Heart of Flames she has truly transformed into a strong, fierce warrior that you do not want to mess with. She is still trying to come to terms with her shadow magic and I liked seeing her embracing it and using it for good. I'm very excited to see what is in store for her and how she continues to grow in the next book. Also, her relationship with Tristan has me turing to complete mush. I loved getting to see some new point of views. I would love to see some chapters in the next book from Sparrow's point of view because I love her so much and feel like there is so much more to her that we don't even know about yet. While Veronyka and Sparrow are my favorites, I also adore Val and how downright brutal she is. It was very cool to get her point of view and see more inside her head. While I'm not necessarily rooting for her, I am very interested in what will happen next with her as well. And the ENDING! I knew that there was going to be some kind of cliffhanger because, we all know Nicki loves to torture us but, I was not expecting the book to end quite the way it did. Despite the possible implications of what this ending means I am so excited to see where Nicki goes with it. Again, everything is being interwoven and it is so magnificent. I could probably go on and write a review that is as long, if not longer, than the book itself but what it comes down to is that this story is utterly fantastic. I haven't read a book or series that has captivated me like this in a very long time. This is the type of story that reminds me of why I love reading so much. I adore this series and Nicki and know that this will forever be my favorite of all time. I can't even contain my excitement for book three and am so ready (or maybe not ) for what Nicki is going to create for us next. In the meantime, I'm going to continue to obsess over any and all things Crown of Feathers related proudly. Rating: 5 fiery flaming stars