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Crown of Feathers #2

Heart of Flames

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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.

640 pages, Hardcover

First published February 11, 2020

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About the author

Nicki Pau Preto

7 books1,180 followers
Nicki Pau Preto is a fantasy author living just outside of Toronto—though her dislike of hockey, snow, and geese makes her the worst Canadian in the country. She studied art and art history in university and worked as a graphic designer before becoming a writer full-time.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 805 reviews
Profile Image for Eilidh.
284 reviews90 followers
March 11, 2020
The hotly anticipated sequel to Crown of Feathers catapults us back into the world of the Golden Empire and the legendary Phoenix Riders.
Since the Battle of the Eyrie, Veronyka and Tristan are dealing with the new realities of what it means to be in open war with the Golden Empire’s armies, and they’re working toward building the Phoenix Riders forces. Meanwhile, Sev made his choice to stand with his fellow animages and the Phoenix Riders, and he faces his next steps in bringing down the Golden Empire. Join our beloved trio in their efforts to fight back against the people who want to seize power - Heart of Flames is the epic and explosive next instalment in the fantastic and fiery YA fantasy series.
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.
I love everything about the world of Crown of Feathers; the characters, the world building, the prose to name some of my highlights. And before even diving in, Heart of Flames strongly profits from the well-developed details in its predecessor due to the fact we already know and care for the majority of the characters, their causes and the world they live in.
Nicki Pau Preto spends a lot of time building upon these characters and the world she started 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.
All of the characters are vibrant and memorable; written with such prowess to make them likeable and relatable beyond measure. By far my favourite was Sev. Between COF and HOF, his character development has by far been the most drastic – in the most wonderful and best of ways. It’s been well illustrated how this scared, self-serving boy has moved beyond that caged mindset to become a thoughtful, courageous young man that evokes a great sense of admiration and pride from the reader.
Veronyka is still our spunky heroine and is at the heart of the book’s events. I had real problems with Veronyka’s actions in HOF; Veronyka’s desire for answers of where she comes from, ultimately who she is, brought out a primal selfishness to her in this instalment, which naturally rubbed me up the wrong way. But, the wonder of Nicki’s writing and how well conceived and developed Veronyka is, you understand her motives despite perhaps disagreeing with her actions. Achieving understanding like that, of a character’s flaws and mistakes, goes to the heart of how well a character is developed, and ultimately made me appreciate and love Veronyka even more. HOF delivered one heck of a journey for Veronyka. One minute my heart was aching for her, then the next I was furious with her.
Heart of Flames upgrades our original narration from three alternating character perspectives to five alternating character perspectives. We get to see more from Val’s perspective, and phoenix rider Elliot, who fell from grace in COF. 
I really loved the inclusion of Val and Elliot. Val’s POV allowed us insight into a darker mindset, and access to information from the past and about shadow magic. And Elliot’s POV ultimately presents us with a character who is lost, confused, and desperately seeking absolution. Both were brilliant additions that brought powerful themes to the plot.
When comparing our original three, it didn’t feel like Tristan had the same development as Veronyka and Sev this time around. It may be that Tristan’s story is to be more of a focal point in the concluding instalment, which in the meantime, leaves focus on enjoying Veronyka and Sev’s progression whilst welcoming Val and Elliot’s perspectives. It was just a little sad for my Tristan fangirling heart that I didn’t feel I had my fill of him in this instalment.  
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 to the point where adoration for them isn’t even close to how I feel. We get to see more depth to them and, particularly with Xephyra, more insight into the relationship between phoenix and rider too.
My heart truly expanded with so much mad love for these precious phoenixes – just like how much I love my animal companions in real life. 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. I love all things fluff and romance in fantasy (when they’re done right) and boy is this super, super satisfying. The romances 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 .
The greedy part of me wanted more and more, because I can be a right sop when it comes to my ships. Sev and Kade made my heart pound, and Tristan and Veronyka had my pulse racing.
There’s real heart in this story that, once you’ve read a story that has this kind of heart, it’s hard to find books that measure up to them. That’s why they’re 5 star reads and rare gems. 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, and letting me play a part in sharing how awesome it all is.

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*Thank you to Nicki, the publishers and Netgalley for providing me with an e-ARC in exchange for this honest review*
Profile Image for Athena (OneReadingNurse).
734 reviews105 followers
July 6, 2020
Thank you so much to Simon Pulse Via NetGalley for the eARC of Heart of Flames in exchange for an honest review!

I enjoyed Crown of Feathers at least moderately, and unfortunately found Heart of Flames falling into the second-book-slump. The worst thing is that sometimes authors can take advice and lessons from the first novel, such as "don't repeat yourself so much," and apply them to the second novel. The author did not do this, and seriously just repeated herself ad nauseum to the point that she took away Sevro's storyline just to add even more repetition.

There are good and bad things and I will start with the good. The phoenixes reminded me of giant playful horses, essentially trying to be your best friend and flirting with each other while also being huge and potentially deadly. Their personalities, personification, and actions in general were well done and I enjoyed watching the bond between Xephyra and Rex develop.

Other than that, I enjoyed how shadow magic was expanded upon in this book, and no spoilers but I could not believe the ending!

On the flip side, I don't understand how it took Pau Preto 600+ pages to get us from point A to B in this book. I didn't even realize that it was a trilogy until I saw that the book was not wrapping up. There was SO MUCH repetition it forced skimming at times. Veronyka would give her inner monologue, then repeat it a few pages or chapters later, multiple times, and Sev's only function in this book was to mirror her monologue back AGAIN. I get that the audience is teenagers and young adult but give them some credit, I don't think they need to hear Veronyka's moral debates 3-4 + times.

Then her relationship with Tristan was just annoying; he didn't stand up for his riders at all and I was glad to see that they eventually called the commander in to evaluate things. The relationship was all angst and no trust and it really was bad, thankfully the phoenixes kept them in line for the most part. The commander seemed to act totally out of character in this book as well, not so much with his actions but the personality changed so much throughout the book.

For the most part though the book just dragged for me. The repetition and slow burning and multiple points of view added up for a slow book two.

In summary I think younger adults won't be as bothered by my issues with the book, and may still enjoy this series.
Profile Image for Carrie.
3,230 reviews1,549 followers
April 24, 2020
Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto is the second book of the young adult fantasy Crown of Feathers series. As with most fantasy series this second book picks up after the first and continues the characters stories so they are best read in order to be understood. This particular series is one that changes the point of view between several characters and follows along their different story lines.

Crown of Feathers began the story and introduced the characters to us with Veronyka who is what is known as an animage who has the ability to communicate with animals. Since the end of the blood war animages have been in hiding and with a lack of Phoenix eggs the once mighty Phoenix warriors are no more but during her years of hiding with her sister, Val, Veronyka wants nothing more than to become a Phoenix rider.

While Sev is also an animage he has hidden his abilities right in front empire by becoming one of their soldiers. The empire has ruled since the blood war and would stop at nothing to wipe out the animage and riders. Meanwhile, Tristan is part of the small rebellion of Phoenix riders left in the world and along with Veronyka and Sev all three are on a path to bring them together.

When I first picked up this series I had my doubts seeing that the books were so long and normally with fantasy I end up finding the lengthy ones very slow paced but this series went at a nice steady rate that I didn’t find myself fighting boredom. The characters and plot kept enough going that I found myself entertained and pulled into the world of the Phoenix riders and wondering just what would come next and book two kept that up nicely as well. Definitely a solid series I find myself enjoying returning to.

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.

For more reviews please visit https://carriesbookreviews.com/
Profile Image for Jessie.
308 reviews2,017 followers
June 24, 2021
I need to stop reading sequels to books I only rate 3 stars lol! I think this one was on me, I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book in the series. I had never really cared about the characters, plot, and even though the world building I think is very well done, I just never found myself wanting to get lost in the first book. So I probably shouldn’t have continued because I ran into the same issue with this one. This is an absurdly long book for what it is and I just felt bored most of the time. I didn’t really care for any of the characters and the animage magic is what I was really hoping to get more of and there wasn’t a huge focus on it. This book didn’t necessarily do anything wrong, I think it’s just a case of me not feeling connected to the characters and not loving the plot or magic in the story. I would still recommend this to fans of YA fantasy because I think it is well written and well developed and I know a ton of people who love this, it just isn’t for me and I won’t be continuing with this series.
Profile Image for holly.
539 reviews18 followers
January 7, 2021
Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for providing me with a physical review copy. This has not affected my review, which reflects only my honest opinions.

"When a Phoenix Rider wanted to approach unseen, she flew under cover of darkness. Quiet as a shadow—soft as starlight.

But when a Phoenix Rider wanted to wage war, she flew under the sun."

My full review can be found here!

As most trilogies go, second books form the bridge between the beginning and the end. This journey, I have often found, can be taxing as a reader. Things become drawn out, almost stagnant, and you’re left waiting—wishing—for more. I cannot express how much Heart of Flames did not feel like a bridge. Rather, it felt like a road. A continuation, wherein the focus is on telling the best possible story for the characters. The pacing feels natural, not too slow and not too fast. Which, in a book that spans over six hundred pages, is a commendable feat.

Part of what helps the pacing of Heart of Flames are the multiple narrators and perspectives. Each character has a distinct voice, and a distinct journey. Yet, their individual arcs intersect and overlap, all united by an overarching story from a time long before the first page.

The character development is also wonderfully paced. 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.

Heart of Flames asks us difficult questions about power, and leadership, and love. How far would you be willing to go to hold onto power, to reclaim it? Can victory truly be claimed if you leave nothing but ashes in your wake? The choices made are just as poignant here as they were in Crown of Feathers, but now there is so much more at stake.

"Love is the force that halts a blade and conflicts a heart. Love is the veil that obscures the truth, that turns all the world to darkness until it’s too late to see the light."

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. While I adored Crown of Feathers, I found the pacing suffered from the necessity of laying the foundations for the world and it’s history.

But it is thanks to that groundwork that Heart of Flames is able to spread it’s wings. If Crown of Feathers were kindling, slowly stoking the flames, 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.

At long last, we have a COVER!! I have been waiting months for this day, and it’s here. It’s finally here! And it’s so beautiful!! The fire! The shadows and highlights! The orange and green that work so amazingly together!!

Honestly, how am I supposed to wait until February 11, 2020 for this?????? And how am I going to choose between CoF and HoF for who gets the glory of being face-out on my shelves?
Profile Image for Laura ☾.
878 reviews278 followers
March 18, 2020
I'm torn between rating this 3 and 4 stars

While I enjoyed the overall plot and world, this felt so long-winded that it was tedious to read...it genuinely could have been about half the length...

Full review to come
Profile Image for Diana.
1,766 reviews231 followers
February 23, 2020
This one is complicated to rate. I mean, I was waiting for this book anxiously as I'd loved the first one, and I was a bit let down because this one was slow. I mean, there's a lot of internal monologue and thoughts, following every single thread of action/thought any of the characters can take at any given moment. And as we are following diverse POWs (Veronyka, Val, Tristan and Sev) those monologues can get old fast, as they are each one 2-3 pages for every chapter.

Honestly, I was skimming thru most of them by page 160 because nothing was happening. And by nothing I mean nothing. Sure, Veronyka was training and thinking about all possible outcomes and reactions to every action she thinks about; Val keeps on trying to claim a phoenix and thinking about how she deserves to be Queen and how much she is going to manipulate/use every one around her and how much she deserves to have Veronyka with her; Tristan is still wanting to go on patrols to hot zones and thinking about his relationship with Veronyka in every possible way; and Sev is still a spy thinking about his parents, what he can do and Kade. And different variations of that. O! Was forgetting Elliot and his interactions with Sparrow and other characters and his lines of thought about what he did, why he did it, his sister, Sparrow and what he overhears from others and what he can do to help.

If you got bored reading this summary imagine what it is like to read this for around 400ish pages, because the action begins to happen at page 460 or so. Really.

The thing is, the book wasn't bad, I still finished it and want to get the last one and see how it all wraps up, but I guess depending how it goes I would decide if I get more of the author books in paper or digital (i save physical spave for my favorites). The problem with this book, and it's a big one, is that it would have benefited by a better editing. Truly, you could have cut off like 300 pages and it wouldn't have affected the outcome.

Also, I think Veronyka needs a wake up call about Val. Their relationship is toxic, and I understand sometimes it is difficult to cross the line and push that kind of people out of your life, but after happens at the end of the book she really needs to put herself first and say enough is enough :(

All in all, not an horrible read, not a great one either as I skimmed through lots of internal monologues, but not bad enough to lose interest on the book or wanting to DNF.
I guess rating would be around 2'5-3 stars.
Profile Image for Kalena W.
653 reviews303 followers
July 31, 2021
4.5/5 stars, I’m gonna need a full week to process that ending oh my god

I was afraid I wasn’t going to like this but boy was I wrong, this was such an amazing story from start to finish. Since this is a sequel book, I'm not going to go into too much depth in terms of plot, but I will give a smaller explanation. We are following the Phoenix riders after the Empire's attack on their home, and the turmulous politics that each and every character has to wade through. Veronkya is just trying to train to be a master rider, but the shadows of her sister still haunt her mind. Tristan is doing the best he can to impress his father, and yet there are certain feelings he feels are holding him back. As tension reaches its highest point, all the characters feel themselves drawn together for a fight that could shape the course of the empire, and the phoenix riders at its heart.

There's no doubt in my mind that one of my favorite parts about this series is the world, including the pheonixes, the magic, and the politics / history. I fell in love with how this was all presented in the first book, and launching back into Heart of Flames, it just got better. The worldbuilding got even more depth in this, and there were some mixed media elements as well that really helped shape it out. Exmples being, ancient texts from the world, letters from person to person, and drawings from ancient times. All of the history really makes this series feel rich and ancient, like it's supposed to, and I enjoyed how it got expanded on in this second book.

For how long this book was, the plot was pretty fast and it felt like there was tons constantly going on. It did take me a week to read it, but I was traveling and couldn't give it my full attention. At the heart of this story, we have all the characters struggling through the decisions that they have to make and who they want to be. This really helped drive the story forward as a more character driven one than the last book. I really enjoyed this because I prefer character driven stories, and it really let the characters be expanded on and thrive. This is all in the midst of a couple conflicts that are brewing and a war that is coming. The relationships really stick out though because of how complicated they are, and this was really fun to watch.

"My sister taught me there is more than one kind of fire. There is fire that consumes, and fire that illuminates" (119)

Veronkya is by far my favorite character of the series, she's the "main" character as well since the majority of the story is from her pov. She astounds me with how determined she is to protect the phoenix riders and their bondmates, and I loved her arc in this book. All of the secrets that she keeps are starting to catch up with her, and she owns up to these. She is also struggling with her feelings for Tristan as their bondmates become even closer as well. She's afraid of how using her magic will affect them, and tries to hide behind it, but she eventually realizes using her magic makes her stronger not weaker. She grew into a greater warrior then we saw in the first book, which is quite impressive. Her story arc so much fun to read and very well done. I can't wait to see how she will turn out in the ending of this series.

Tristan is a really fun character as well, at times he seems to come off as simple, just in the sense of development and personality. But his basis is kindness and how nice he can be to others. It's really nice to see a male character be so caring and kindhearted in a novel, as a lot of times in the media men are not allowed to be that way. I connected with him more in the last book then I did in this one, I felt as though an arc was trying to be pushed and it didn't quite get there. But underneath it all he does all he can to protect those he loves, gives respect to everyone, and is a strong contender for being one of the best phoenix riders.

Avalkyra is a very complicated character, sometimes it gets a bit repetitive but honestly I really enjoy seeing her threaded through the story. She's a character who doesn't mind bending others to her will and using people to get what she wants. Ultimately, she is bad, but there are still traces of humanity left in her that hold her back. Veronkya sees this in her sister and that's why she tries to work with her. As a "villain" sometimes I felt that Avalkyra feel to easy into the traps that she had been falling into for a while. But as the book went on she began to step away from that and really become someone who is willing to do whatever it takes to get what she wants. I enjoyed this step in her character because she is teetering on the edge of villain and highly morally gray right now, and that is what I enjoy.

Sev's point of view felt very minimal in this book, and I cared less about his stories then the others to be perfectly honest. But I still really enjoyed seeing how he grew. In the beginning Sev is once again being stationed somewhere very important, and he's struggling. He now knows what is waiting for him on the other side, or rather behind him, and this leads into his struggle of finishing the job. He had to do a lot of things in this book that hurt his emotional well-being more than he would care to admit, and yet it didn't change how kind he was. As an LGBTQ character, I am glad how prominent this part of him is, but how it does not define him either. His story is circling back to the start once again in this last book (seems a bit repetitive once again) but I am still happy to see where he goes.

My heart truly belongs to the phoenixes though, it felt like there were less in this book but in reality the story just traveled more. Xephyra and Rex are the two most prominent phoenixes, as they are bonded to Veronyka and Tristan respectively. Both of them have such fun and exciting personalities that balance each other out just as well as Veronyka and Tristan balance one another out. There are other more impressive phoenixes in this book that I absolutely cannot wait to explore more lore with in the last book as well!

Overall, this was such a stunning sequel to Crown of Feathers, which gave some good groundwork for a broader story. I absolutely cannot wait for the last book (the cover is stunning!) and I hope it will deliver on everything I want. I highly recommend this for high fantasy fans who are looking for a little something different!

[TW: animal cruelty, animal abuse, death, death of a parent, severe burns, forced slavery]
Profile Image for Danica Briscoe.
48 reviews8 followers
July 12, 2021
This book left me in awe and needing more! After the events of book one Crown of Feathers, (which I adored) I was worried a squeal wouldnt live up to my expectations. Trust me, there is no need to worry about that. Heart of flames goes above and beyond. There was so much action, emotion and romances. We see so much character development especially Veronyka and Sev. As always Val is such an interesting character to read you want to hate her but love her at the same time.

Since reading Crown of feathers I have been recommending it to everyone and will be doing the same with Heart of flames. I cant wait for the next book and to see where these amazing characters take us.

A huge thanks to Nicki Pau Preto for these amazing books and NetGalley for allowing me an arc in exchange for review.
Profile Image for Melissa.
595 reviews819 followers
March 15, 2020
Like any big book, this one has its lengths. But when the action kicked in, I wasn't able to let go, I wanted to read and know what was going to happen.

Before the action, I would've give it a 3⭐️, but I loved how everything unfolded and the twists and turns that predict a marvellous third book that I can't wait to read!

Many thanks to Simon and Schuster Canada for the complimentary e-copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Profile Image for Brittany.
192 reviews56 followers
November 15, 2019
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 when it's published!
Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
639 reviews144 followers
May 28, 2021
I have but one word to describe Nicki Pau Preto's follow-up to the amazing book that is Crown of Feathers. Spell it out with me now. E-P-I-C! Yes. Over 600 pages of perfect, magical, phoenix-riding, EPICNESS!

See my full review at A Book Shrew

For those who have been keeping up with me, you will know how much I adored CoF. And how could I not? A high-fantasy with queens of lore, phoenix riders and a main character who disguises herself as a boy to prove them all wrong—it's all I never knew I wanted until it fell in my lap. Initially this was meant to be a duology, but a few months ago it turned into a trilogy and I could not be more thrilled! Especially when one considers that HoF is over 600 pages and there is still so much goodness to come! I was riveted from start to finish and had my nose glued to my Kindle every spare moment I had. And after that ending?! How on earth am I supposed to wait another year to find out what happens?

As with the first book, I loved how the chapters are broken up by quotes, letters and excerpts from Phoenix rider history. It is all so damn clever and adds another level of understanding to this incredible story! My particular favourite are the excerpts that shed light on the phoenix rider queens of old. It's remarkable world-building that hits a level few YA fantasies seem to get the space to do. It simply lends more to the sheer epicness of this series. From the phoenix rider history to the goddess lore, from the magical aspects to the political undertones. The politics and warfare that are in this book are a true testament to Pau Preto's story-telling ability. There is a constant thread of worry throughout that kept me reading. Who would come out on top in each battle, and what did the scheming and interactions from either side mean? I was always trying to figure out what would come next, and Pau Preto kept me entirely on my toes.

Also, like CoF did, the story is broken up into multiple PoVs (beware CoF spoilers here.) As with the last book, we are told the story through:
🔥 Veronyka: My darling girl. I have nothing but praise for Veronyka and what she has to endure. This book is a lot of self-discovery for her, especially after the bombshell her dear "sister" dropped on her at the end of the last book. This includes who her true parents are—which I did not expect—and how to control her shadow magic.
🔥 Tristan: I was a big fan of Tristan in the first book, and that has only grown with this next instalment. He has such a big heart and cares so deeply for so many things that it's really a treat to be inside his head. I really like how his relationship develops with Veronyka and I can't wait to find out what happens with him.
🔥 Sev: He was my least favourite of the original point of view's in the last book, and this time he was second least. Only because his story isn't as exciting as Veronyka's or Tristan's. However! I do adore him. He grows so much in this in his work as a spy for the phoenix riders while re-joining the Empire's army, and frankly, I'm quite proud of him.
But we also get the welcomed addition of:
🔥 Avalkyra: You cannot know how ecstatic I was to see parts of this story from Val's eyes. This woman is completely and utterly fascinating, given her backstory. She is also a perfect villain. She is ruthless, cold, manipulative ... and desperate. The nuances to her character are unending and I want so much more of her.
🔥 Elliot: Last, not least, but definitely my least favourite PoV, if only because I didn't think him all that important compared to the others. Elliot is having a hard time as he has been grounded and is essentially shunned after being revealed as a spy for the Empire. Really, I just liked his chapters because it gave a glimpse of my darling Sparrow.

Can I just take a second to say that Pau Preto's writing has improved immensely with her sophomore effort. While still a five star read, my biggest complaint about the first book was that there was a lot of info-dumping, especially in the first quarter. And it can absolutely be justified—given how much information needed to be shared because of how big this story is—but it was still a lot. This was the perfect balance of rehashing previous events and carrying on without bogging down the reader with heavy details and lore. I did not re-read CoF before this one, and while it would definitely be beneficial to pick up the first book, I was never lost or confused.

I feel like I scream at people to read this series often, and you can consider this just another attempt. IF YOU HAVEN'T PICKED UP THIS SERIES YET WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?
Profile Image for Brianna Benton.
126 reviews14 followers
May 6, 2022
I just finished my first re-read of this book and believe it or not, it gets even better with the re-read. The amount of foreshadowing and other hints to the ending is thrilling. I am so excited for the next one (Untitled).

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.

Full review on my blog!
Profile Image for Caylynn.
678 reviews91 followers
August 21, 2021
4.5/5 stars
This was the trick, the thing the stories never told you. In order to survive, you had to be willing to let go.

Sometimes it was easy, the hand cold and limp and slick with blood.

Sometimes it was harder, the hand strong and fierce and clinging to life.

I am ruined. I am done. I have to wait ANOTHER YEAR for the conclusion???? HOW?

This was absolutely brilliant, and I have only two minor complaints that dropped my rating half a star.

Heart of Flames starts off relatively soon after the end of Crown of Feathers, with Veronyka training with Tristan to become a Master Rider after the battle at the Eyrie. Veronyka is struggling with the revelation of her true heritage and her shadow magic along with her place in the Phoenix Rider crew after the others discover that she's a girl.
She wanted peace. She wanted to protect others like her, to make the world safe for animages again. Veronyka wanted to fly in a flock, to be a part of the Phoenix Rider resurgence, to stand among her fellows with pride and confidence, not above them.

As for our other characters, we've added POV's from Elliot-the reluctant traitor from the first book-and Val. Tristan and Sev are both struggling with their new roles in this war. Tristan is constantly at odds with this father and the decisions that the commander makes when ordering the Riders around. He, like Veronyka, wants to see some action and do something. But patience is a virtue, as Sev is learning in his newfound role as the commander's spy within the empire. I love all three of my babies and their character growth-ESPECIALLY Sev's- is incredible to read about.

As for Val and Elliot, while I understand the necessity of their perspectives, I didn't really connect with them as much. Val is an intriguing villain, but I wouldn't have minded seeing things surrounding her unfold through other POV's instead of getting the story through her eyes. And Elliot, while he is also a precious bean, I don't think we needed to add his perspective. One or two chapters like Kade would have been beneficial, but he didn't need to take up that many pages when I could have been getting more Tristan/Veronyka bonding time or Sev plotting and scheming.

My only two complaints were that the book was a little too long and there were numerous spelling/grammatical errors that were overlooked during the editing process. Otherwise, this sequel was brilliant, lacked the middle-book syndrome, and I am aching for the third and final book!!
Profile Image for Asia Chrisma Currin.
14 reviews2 followers
February 8, 2020
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!!
Profile Image for Alex Crouch.
31 reviews12 followers
November 5, 2021
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 nessecarily 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

I received a copy of Heart of Flames courtesy of Simon Pulse via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Marilena ⚓.
633 reviews75 followers
June 6, 2020
Να πω την αληθεια το βαρέθηκα!Μου φάνηκε ότι διάβαζα μήνες!,κυλούσε πολυ αργά και δεν γινόταν τίποτα το συνταρακτικό!Το πρώτο ήταν καλύτερο, ίσως διαβασω την συνέχεια όταν κυκλοφορήσει
Profile Image for Vanessa (bookfairy95).
791 reviews102 followers
April 18, 2020
It took me a while to finish this one. Fist and foremost, because this book is a beast!!! It not only has a bit more than 600 pages, but it also is tall and there are a lot of words on one page. lol
Second, because I was in a slump in the middle of it and put it on pause, because it felt like I didn’t make any progress at all. So, this taking me a while to finish was entirely because of me and not because of the book!!

In the end, I don’t know why I paused it. I feel like as soon as I picked it again lots of things happened and then I was at the end and everything flew by. The finale - meaning the last 150 to 200 pages - were full of action and things happening. Lots of revelations and things that had my head spinning. But in a good way!! Because all the things that happened were great!

I am not going to say much about the characters or plot, because this is the sequel, but this book was great! Veronyka developed a great deal. Tristan is just as awesome and lovely as in Crown of Feathers and Val is the PERFECT antagonist.

Now I probably have to wait half an eternity for the third book. 3
Profile Image for Tamara (enviereads).
171 reviews40 followers
January 27, 2021
"The past fades and the future beckons.
Stay strong. Burn bright."

rating: 3.5 stars

I finally finished this massive book! I actually started reading it in May with my good bookstagram friend Khara, whom I also read the prequel Crown of Feathers with. And it was great, but for some reason at about 60% into it, we both stopped reading. There was a dip, where nothing much happened, and I guess we both lost interest. A few days ago I decided to pick it back up again and fortunately, I got back into it easily, and it picked up pace too! ^-^
While CoF reminded me of Mulan a bit, this second book starts to lean more towards the high fantasy - the journeys become longer and the stakes higher. Definitely enjoying this series and the characters, and I'll definitely be reading the epic finale Wings of Shadow when it releases this summer.
Profile Image for Abby Salter.
318 reviews357 followers
September 9, 2021
Thoroughly enjoyed this sequel to Crown of Feathers. This was a lot of fun.

I think I preferred the first book. Mostly because the first half of this was a bit slow. It is a rather long book at over 600 pages and potentially this could have been condensed a little. Explosive ending though and very much looking forward to seeing how this series wraps up in Wings of Shadow.
Profile Image for Sam Glasbrenner (Sassyowlreads).
353 reviews41 followers
November 19, 2019
This book was so amazing! I'm so glad I was able to get my hands on a digital arc.

Nicki Pau Preto managed to completely avoid the slow middle book pitfall and now I'm so mad I have to wait so long for the 3rd one.

It picks up pretty much exactly where Crown of Feathers left off and proceeds to go on a wild adventure. My palms were actually sweating at one point and a slight prickling sensation in my eyes may have occurred.
Profile Image for NevaReads.
405 reviews5 followers
August 1, 2021
Veronyka and Tristan and Sev and Kade are so sweet! I adore them.

...I still crave more world building.
The planning and care that must have gone into this story floors me. The history, the relationships...I need more!
Profile Image for Amanda Bradburn.
Author 2 books154 followers
Want to read
August 28, 2019
So excited to see where Nicki Pau-Preto is going to take this unique story! I'm so looking forward to Heart of Flames (and DID YOU SEE that cover?) <3
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