Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers Series #1)

Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers Series #1)

by Nicki Pau Preto


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An Ember in the Ashes meets Three Dark Crowns in this lush debut fantasy novel about a girl who disguises herself as a boy to join a secret group of warriors that ride phoenixes into battle.

I had a sister, once...

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders—legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire—until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

I promised her the throne would not come between us.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders—even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

But it is a fact of life that one must kill or be killed. Rule or be ruled.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders’ return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Sometimes the title of queen is given. Sometimes it must be taken.

Crown of Feathers is an epic fantasy about love’s incredible power to save—or to destroy. Interspersed throughout is the story of Avalkyra Ashfire, the last Rider queen, who would rather see her empire burn than fall into her sister’s hands.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781534424623
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 02/12/2019
Series: Crown of Feathers Series , #1
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 13,114
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)
Lexile: 970L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

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

Read an Excerpt

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Human-looking bones.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everything rested upon those two round rocks in the fire.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers Series #1) 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 46 reviews.
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
I read Crown of Feathers last weekend and I couldn’t put it down. I was completely enchanted by the story, the characters, and the writing. Crown of Feathers was told through two different points of view. I absolutely loved both of them and thought that they were equally engaging. It was fascinating to see how both main characters developed over the course of the novel. I thought that Nicki Pau Preto did a fantastic job of creating multi-dimensional characters that were all well developed. This book seriously had everything I love - spies, court politics, hate to love romance, sister relationships, found family, and magical beasts. The phoenixes were one of my favorite parts of the book! I’d highly recommend Crown of Feathers if you’re looking for a YA fantasy or going through Fantastic Beasts withdrawal. This is one of my only five star reads this year that wasn’t a reread. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
BeautyBookCorner More than 1 year ago
This was such a wild ride (pun intended). If you read the synopsis and was attracted to the concept of Phoenix Riders, you won't be disappointed. The animals are described with such power and beauty. The whole lore of flames and resurrections are also critical to the story as well. The book switches POVs between three characters: Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev. The story is also told in two settings. One takes place at the Phoenix Rider camp with Veronyka and Tristan. The other setting is with the empire soldiers where Sev is. For a good chunk of the book, you don't really see any connection between the two. There aren't any overlapping characters taking part in either setting, but it all comes together later. Veronyka is definitely the main character of this book. And she is ambitious, honorable, and brave. Her older sister, Val, is also ambitious, but with a cold ferocity that drives all her decisions. She speaks, attacks, and loves viciously. I found their dynamic really interesting and it definitely seems like things will get even deeper in later books. I found the world building to be pretty good. There is a lot of info dumping at first so I recommend that you flip to the handy dandy timeline and glossary at the back of the book. There aren't any spoilers for the story and may give you a clearer sense of the world. Between most chapters, there are pieces of information from past historical documents or letters between the two queens (who caused the civil war in the land) that give you a better understanding of the political climate or magic. In the present time, those who control animals (these include the Phoenix Riders) are living as slaves of the empire or in secret. A small group of Phoenix Riders have banded together to recruit and train male animages to become Phoneix Riders. Veronyka joins this group after leaving Val, but disguised as a boy. Phoenixes, dragons, and other magical animals have never been a big draw for me. I have always been more attracted to witches, sorcerers and more elemental magic systems, and any magical animals were a pleasant addition to the story. However, I really enjoyed the concept of animages and phoenixes having a deep soul bond, and how in this world, they become fierce warriors together. They feel each other's emotions and physical pain. I found myself becoming really emotional when reading about Veronyka and her bonded Phoenix. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters, magic, and land. If you love epic high fantasy, I don't think you will be disappointed. **Thank you to Netgalley and Simon Pulse for giving me a digital arc of the book in exchange for my honest review.**
ChristinaMarieReads 8 months ago
This book was absolutely amazing! Nicki Pau Preto created exactly the kind of world you'd want to get lost in and characters that are so easy to fall in love with. I cannot wait for the next installment!
CurrentChapter 8 months ago
This was AMAZING. I really didn't expect to love it this much, but OMG! I still don't understand why she needed to dress as a boy, but whatever, that isn't that important. I guessed two things in the book (which made me more excited about it), but I could have never guessed the twist in the end, and although this wasn't a thriller, it was more thrilling and unexpected than all thrillers I read lately. The characters were so different and so real, Veronyka is a perfect combination of fierce and vulnerable, Val is a twisted girl with complicated feelings, Sev is so precious, he wants so bad to do the right thing, but it’s hard for him, all of them have personal issues and that made them so real. The phoenixes were a different creature than what I expected, they are also so complicated and smart, I could feel their pain/frustration when people just couldn’t understand them (because humans are stupid). The pacing and the chapter cliffhangers were perfect, I was never bored. There is so much worldbuilding in this book that I feel like I could read a 10-book series on it, and a prequel, oh I want a prequel! And I need Heart of Flames now!! And I need a huge poster with a more detailed map! And more phoenixes, give me all the phoenixes, I’d love to read from a phoenix perspective. If you like YA fantasies, don’t delay reading this book any longer!
AFCTL More than 1 year ago
Um, Wow!? I was - no, am - so impressed with Nicki Pau Preto’s Crown of Feathers and I can honestly say that this book has ranked itself on my bookshelf both digitally and (soon to be) physically alongside ACOTAR and White Stag. I was captured from the first few pages, feeling a very similar relationship between Val and Veronyka as I did between Agatha and Sophie from School of Good and Evil, but that’s where all relations with other books finish. Crown of Feathers is a book like no others, and is pure genius. I was extremely impressed with the ease that I read the different POV’s, for each character had their own unique voice. It can be quite hard to do, for a lot of authors fall into the trp of using too similar mental voice and actions, and only changing their speaking style. I found no trace of these problems, and I was able to form my opinions of the story and characters very quickly, which did change with the story. I felt like a sprinkling more of foreshadowing would have really enhanced this story, and that I wish the suspense had been cut down slightly, but other than that I have no problems with Crown of Feathers. In fact I would say that I have the same agonising wait in front of me that I suffer with waiting for a new Shadow Hunter installment (which I may, or may not be, watching the Netflix adaptation of as I write this review :P). I will admit though, I am pretty sure the suspense issue is just me being impatient.
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
I read Crown of Feathers last weekend and I couldn’t put it down. I was completely enchanted by the story, the characters, and the writing. Crown of Feathers was told through two different points of view. I absolutely loved both of them and thought that they were equally engaging. It was fascinating to see how both main characters developed over the course of the novel. I thought that Nicki Pau Preto did a fantastic job of creating multi-dimensional characters that were all well developed. This book seriously had everything I love - spies, court politics, hate to love romance, sister relationships, found family, and magical beasts. The phoenixes were one of my favorite parts of the book! I’d highly recommend Crown of Feathers if you’re looking for a YA fantasy or going through Fantastic Beasts withdrawal. This is one of my only five star reads this year that wasn’t a reread. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
FadedPages More than 1 year ago
5/5 Stars I loved this book with my whole YA fantasy and mythical creature loving heart! It was everything I needed to pull me out of a mini reading slump. The story begins with the history of two sisters, one born without magic and one an animage and phoenix rider. Both sisters were fighting for the right to rule the kingdom until they tore it apart. Years later, two animage sisters, Val and Veronyka, are fighting as well, but to survive in a world where animages are imprisoned or enslaved and phoenix riders are something of legend. Veronyka ends up being betrayed by her sister and leaves to find the phonenix riders that she still believes exist. The overall story was complex, historical, and beautiful. I loved the inserted bits of phoenix legends and history here and there that truly added to the overall story and world building. It was pure fantasy magic! The reader really gets a sense of the diverse world through the stories and the many different points of view. I completely fell in love with the characters and creatures in this story. I loved the main characters and each point of view presented including Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev. The little bits with Sparrow really had me wanting a happy ending for her as well. She was just this little character that kept popping up and I absolutely loved her personality. I also enjoyed every single scene between Veronyka and Tristan. There was definitely a hate to friendship story going on and I loved that the author took the time to develop it. There was definitely several twists, lies and betrayals that unfurled along the way in this story that I didn't see coming. This book ripped my heart out in the beginning with the certain betrayal scene hinted at with Veronyka and Val. It's been awhile since I had to put a book down from reading an emotional scene, but I definitely had to at that point. I felt it went beyond backstabbing. The villains in this book were truly hate-worthy even if some are slightly gray area in the morality department. It took me awhile to pick the story back up after that scene, but it completely set everything in motion. The pacing of the story was good, but I felt it went faster after Veronyka goes in search of the phoenix riders. Overall, I loved this book and believe it will easily be one of my favorites I read this year! I highly recommend this book if you love phoenixes, mythical creatures, sister rivalry stories, girls in disguise, a little hate to love romance in your fantasy, LGBT side characters, stories within stories, history with your world building and multiple POVs! Thank you so much to Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing for allowing me the chance to read this ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I truly appreciate it and will be waiting in fiery anticipation for the sequel!
shahnachristine 8 months ago
I really really liked it. My emotions hurt. I don't want to wait until next year for book two. *cry face*
Anonymous 8 months ago
I fell so madly in love with this book and Characters, the world and the magic. There we’re so many times I thought I knew what was going to happen and then I was like oh dangggg!!!! She created a one of a kind world for you to get lost in!
KatsNook More than 1 year ago
4 Stars for Crown of Feathers Crown of Feathers is the stunning debut from author Nicki Pau Preto. Get ready for an exciting adventure with action, friendship, family drama and magical phoenixes! What did I like? • I was drawn into the story from the first chapter. Veronyka and her sister Val are war orphans and have been surviving by hiding their true identities. The sisters are animages, people with the power to control and communicate with animals. Veronyka has idolized the legendary heroes, the Phoenix Riders, and dreams of becoming a rider. But Val doesn’t agree with Veronyka’s hero worshipping. Right away you sense the tension between the sisters and this drama is what kept me engaged. When Veronyka is betrayed by her sister she begins a journey to find the Phoenix Riders. But joining the heroes comes with a price. Girls are not accepted as Phoenix Riders and Veronyka disguises as a boy to follow her dream. As Veronyka tries to deceive others I couldn’t help but anticipate trouble and the author fulfills it with interesting twists. Even though it became predictable I still enjoyed the suspense of her secret being revealed. • The story is told in alternating POV’s and I enjoyed viewing the subplots come together. Besides Veronyka’s POV, readers meet Tristan, the son of the leader of the Phoenix Riders, and Sev, an Empire soldier hiding his animage abilities. • The world building is exciting and imaginative. I’ve always loved phoenixes and I enjoyed how the author depicted them as intelligent, loyal and affectionate. • The diversity in characters is always great to see. What didn’t I like? • The pace of the story is slow due to a lot of information and the alternating POV’s. But the final chapters are filled with action and everything comes together. I am still surprised with the ending. Overall the Crown of Feathers is an impressive debut and beginning of a new series. I can’t wait for the next book!
HugsandKissesforBooks More than 1 year ago
Great beginning to a new fantasy series! Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Crown of feathers by Nicki Pau Preto! Val and Veronyka are sisters who can communicate with animals (animages) and convince the animals to do their bidding. The sisters also have that same effect on people (shadowmages). The law prohibits this behavior, so the sisters are in hiding and they have been for years, alone and on their own, moving from place to place to survive and hunt for Phoenix eggs to rejuvenate the Phoenix riders. They discover two eggs and one hatches; the Phoenix chick chooses Veronyka instead of the elder sister Val. Sev is a soldier by choosing service instead of punishment for his crimes. He accidentally sees Veronyka and her Phoenix, Xyphera, while Raiders are attacking her cabin. Sev and a prisoner help her escape the notice of the raiders. Later, Val kills Xyphera because she thinks Veronyka has raised her poorly. This breaks Veronyka’s heart and she leaves Val behind to search for Phoenix eggs and Phoenix riders on her own. During her search, Veronyka meets Sparrow, an animage with a bird companion named Chirp. Tristan is a Phoenix rider who’s afraid of fire and he feels like he’s a constant disappointment to his father. The group of Phoenix riders that Veronyka finds only accepts boys and Sparrow gives her the idea to pose as a boy, becoming Veronyka’s “brother”, Nyk. Nyk meets Tristan, the son of the Phoenix riders’ Commander. They have a tumultuous relationship for a while because Tristan is under his father’s thumb. Everything comes to a head when Nyk sees Val in the crowd! Veronyka’s life becomes much more complicated after Val shows up and many truths are revealed, leaving Veronyka questioning everything about who she is. 5 stars for this complex and unique fantasy! * I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration and all opinions and thoughts are my own.
OpinionatedTurnip More than 1 year ago
What I Liked The start of this book took me a second to get my head around, but once I was in, I was IN. This fantasy kingdom is very well laid-out and there's some incredible world building moments in it. Veronyka's kindness juxtaposed to Val's controlling coldness is very well done, and Val's manipulation is characterized so well I found myself getting SO ANGRY AT HER. The other POV characters, Sev and Tristan, are done very well. I kinda like Sev more than I like Tristan, but hey, maybe that's just me. What I Would Have Liked to See Like I said, the beginning was sort of choppy trying to catch the reader up on the deep history of this world. I think upon re-read, I'd like the beginning a lot better. My Favorite! The history of the Phoenix Riders, and the history and heritage of this world altogether. It's gorgeous and so imaginative! I CAN'T WAIT FOR THE SECOND BOOK! TL;DR The legendary Phoenix Riders are attempting to rise from their own ashes and retake their kingdom, and a war orphan of mysterious lineage might be the champion they need--if she can survive the empire that wants them all dead. P.S. I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley for my honest review. All thoughts are my own!
Anonymous 8 months ago
This is honestly one of my favorite books of the year so far. I received it in the February Owlcrate box but didn't actually pick it up until end of April - and boy am I glad I did! Phoenix Riders, Strong Female Leads, a 'mulan' ish plot, LGBT+ romance, and TONS of plot twists. The first bit of the story is a heavy info dump, but I thrive in that kind of world building and detail so I was hooked from the start. The plot twists were expected, but also not which was fun to try to piece together. The characters were incredible and I just need more! Absolutely a 5 out of 5 star read for me and one of my all time favorite books!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was awesome.
eclecticbookwrm More than 1 year ago
This book was a bit of a slow burn with a slow start that took me a while to get into. But once I got into it, I was 100% there for it. I adored the ending and cannot wait to see where Pau Preto takes things next. The world and characters and phoenixes are so excellent. If you a fan of epic historical fantasies with intricate world histories, this is the book for you. .The ending was action packed and held more than a few surprises. I highly recommend it for fans of Brandon Sanderson and the like.
Littlebookqueen More than 1 year ago
When I first read the synopsis for Crown of Feathers I thought it sounded amazing and just knew I had to read it and from the very first line I was hooked. The whole concept of phoenix-riding warriors sounded epic and the fact that the main character had to disguise herself as a boy was also really intriguing to me. There are two alternating story lines that take place throughout the novel and they are so intricately woven together. The way that Nicki connects the two is so clever and when you see some of the connections revealed, they’re shocking but make sense when you look back at them. This story really sets itself apart from other YA fantasy. I got major Tamora Pierce vibes from it and it is the kind of quality story that seems to be missing from this genre now days. So many YA books consist of the same tropes and cliches but, Crown of Feathers is in a league of its own. It’s heartbreaking, inspiring, heartwarming, and downright amazing! My emotions were all over the place with this one. You don’t get the corny insta-love relationships that are rushed and so often don’t seem genuine. The relationships are built over time and express more by what isn’t said. The chemistry between both sets of characters is done very well and you can really see how these characters and their relationships grow throughout the story. And can we give a huge round of applause for POC main characters AND LGBTQ representation! Veronyka was a great main character and I loved seeing her character growth throughout the book. No matter what obstacles she encountered, she didn’t let anything stand in the way of her dream. Not to mention her magical powers were bad ass and I may or may not have been jealous of a fictional character. Plus, she was bonded to an adorable phoenix! Sev (the other main character was written very well also. Like Veronyka, he wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of what he was trying to accomplish. For him, this meant doing whatever it took to survive, even going as far as hiding his powers when arrested in order to become a soldier as opposed to a slave. Veronyka’s sister, Val was purely evil and manipulative, creating the perfect villain that you love to hate. Towards the end of the book I still found that I despised her yet, I am very curious to see what role she will play in the next book. The world that Nicki has created is utterly amazing and I adored all the small details and history built into the story. She has created characters that people will fall in love with and a story that will ensnare readers everywhere. Overall, I felt that Crown of Feathers is a one of a kind tale and I just loved everything about it. Rating: All the stars in existence (but, seriously this book is amazing!)
bookchelle More than 1 year ago
My friend Mary told me about Crown of Feathers, when it was first announced. She said, and I quote, "If you don't love this book as much as I do, then we can't be friends anymore." That is high praise for this book, so I knew it was going to be a win-win reading situation. Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto is fantasy, through and through. We have a hidden society, missing heirs, and a magic system that has been banned from life. Did I mention that there are phoenixes AND phoenix riders? Yup. Fantasy, through and through. The story of two sisters, that are the light and dark of a bond already sold me. Meeting Veronyka and Avalkyra Ashfire has been one of the most interesting things that has happened to me in the fantasy world. This story is epic, filled with adventure and wonderment, but above all, the story of love and all that it has to offer and take away. Pau Preto's writing is wonderful, and such a great fit for this story. I loved the prose, the nuances, and the dialogue used when telling this tale. I loved Val, and had the softest heart for Veronyka. Did I love and hate? You bet. Was I afraid and cheer? Definitely. There is darkness in this book. Mentions of death, bones, war. It is important to the story, but this is a warning to you. It's a fantasy book, and Pau Preto doesn't hold anything back. You're going to need this book in your life, and then once you're done, you'll cry for the year until the next book comes. But it's worth the tears, because your heart will feel stronger from it. *Thank you to the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.*
Mel-Loves-Books 9 days ago
“‘It’s just your sister’s nature,’ her grandmother used to say whenever Val would be cruel or controlling. ‘She’s like fire— she devours.’ ‘What am I like, Maiora?’ Veronyka would ask. ‘You’re like fire too — you light the way.’” Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto is an interesting concept, where people with certain magic can bond with and ride phoenixes to protect their lands. It takes place in a world that has fallen and the Phoenix Riders have to train and find phoenixes in secret. The story follows multiple characters, and does a good job of world building through different perspectives. I am interested to see where else the author plans to take us in this world with these people and will definitely be watching for the next book. I give this installment 4 stars.
Anonymous 22 days ago
I loved Crown of Feathers so much! I know that Nicki is a big fan of Tamora Pierce's writing, and I loved that I could see hints of her influence throughout Crown of Feathers. I absolutely adore this new Phoenix filled world and it's strong, powerful, and complicated characters, and I'm so excited to hear that it will now be a trilogy! Fans of Fantasy, Fun, and all things Phoenixes, this is definitely a book for you!
Kat_V 23 days ago
Crown of Feathers is the first installment in a series by Nicki Pau Preto, and Wow, did it fulfill all of its promises. The story switches between the three viewpoints of Veronyka, Sev, and Tristan. Now, I was wary at first when I realized this. There are many fantasy books that implement the multiple points-of-view, and many that fail to do them well. However, this book didn’t present any of the problems I tend to find with multiple POVs. In fact, I found myself looking forward to one POV as much as the next. Each character had a role to play throughout the plot and their choices were what advanced the story. It never felt like the plot was dragging these characters where it needed them to go. It was all-natural and done brilliantly within this book. And the worldbuilding! The worldbuilding was so well-crafted and developed it became a side character of its own. The history of the Empire and the Phoenix Riders was so intriguing and I loved the inserts that gave insights into the myths and stories of the past Kings and Queens, even of the ancient gods. The worldbuilding in this book alone was enough to give this a 5-star review. And then that ending! The buildup of the final big reveal blew my mind. Very few books can keep a surprise from me without figuring it out midway through. But, boy, was I way off with my guesses. Crown of Feathers took my expectations and ran with them. Not to mention the emotions it elicits. I can’t count the number of times I screamed at the book for letting the characters do such stupid decisions, especially Veronyka. This book will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions and it will be worth it!
Anonymous 24 days ago
I didnt realize this had mutiple perspectives from the summary, but along with Veronika we also follow Sevro, an animage hiding within the ranks of the new empires soldiers, and Trystan, a Phoenix Rider apprentice hiding high up in the mountains with the rest of the surviving Riders. I found Veronikas chapters the most compelling. The way she developped into a more self assured and self reliant character was wonderful to read about. I was super invested in her quest to bond with a Phoenix and hide her gender for fear of not being accepted into the Riders ranks. Seeing Veronika deal with her sisters intensity and unpredictability made her chapters hard to put down, but for someone so cold and calculated it didnt make sense to me that she would sabotage something so important. Trystan is struggling to overcome his anxiety and the fear of fire, but mostly his fear of failing his demanding father who also happens to be the commander of the Phoenix Riders. Trystan clashes with his fathers rules about not letting any woman join them. Which is pretty hypocritical of his father considering the first Riders where women and if he had let them join they probably wouldn't be struggling to acquire more eggs. We also follow Sevro, who is being blackmailed by an cunning old woman named Trix into helping the animage resistance. He goes from being a coward only interested in his own survival to risking his life for something greater then himself. I thought the hate to love tension between him and the animage Kade was fantastic. The chemistry was amazing in both romantic pairing. I enjoy the types of plots that fight against oppression. Add to that a world with riders and people whose magic is to communicate with animals and I have a recipe for a great book. My love for rider books began with dragons, but a phoenix is just as awesome. Not to mention theres a bunch of diverse representation. This book made me feel an intense whirlwind of emotions. I read some parts faster than Ive ever read anything in my life all the while gripping my heart for fear of it breaking out of my chest. Id definitely put a warning for animal death. Theres lots of extremely emotional scenes that had my heart breaking into a million tiny pieces, but I know a books amazing if it manages to make me feel so many strong emotions when Im usually indifferent or midly alert when big events happen. I had a feeling some of the twists were coming, but I still got super excited at their reveal. The writing was pretty straight forward and easy to get into. I found the pace of the plot moved a little slower in some places, but there was enough conflict and tension to keep me engaged. I didnt need to be told three times in the span of a page or two that Phoenix Riders are immune to fire. I like the sentences at the end of each chapter that told the story of the two sister you started the war. I found the similarities between the waring queens and Veronikas relationship with her sister was interesting. There was also some world building details thrown in at the end of each chapter that could have been incorporated better. The rest of the world building was on point. Everything made sense and I didn't feel like I was missing any crucial information. Despite my few minor issues, I absolutely loved this book and cant wait to get my hands on the sequel. *This book was received for an honest review
brigandells 26 days ago
Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto is an imaginative and engaging read. With complex and rich worldbuilding Pau Preto brings her world alive on the pages of this book. Using both alternating perspectives and excerpts from past writings in the story’s history we are thrown into a world of past and present kingdoms as well as my favourite part, phoenixes and phoenix riders. Our three POV are Veronyka, Sev, and Tristan each with a unique storyline and voice. There’s practically no romance in this book; the best ‘relationship’ is really the dysfunctional one Veronyka has with her sister Val. Pau Preto is introducing a new and complex world so the first part of the book may be a bit slow if you're not the type who enjoys dense worldbuilding. But, if you make it through, the book really picks up and you’ll definitely have the action you were looking for! There’s great diversity rep (that doesn’t feel forced) and themes like sisterhood, overcoming fears, and betrayal are sure to draw you in!
brittknee628 27 days ago
ALL THE FIERY STARS I had the pleasure of receiving the ARC of Crown of Feathers, all opinions are my own and are not influenced by being given this opportunity! How am I supposed to write a review for this magnificent book when I can’t even form proper words right now! Guys, Guys, Guys, buy this book. Request it at your library. Do whatever you have to, but support Nicki however you can! Crown of Feathers is beyond superb and I will fight to my death shouting about how incredible this story was and how many emotions it brought out in me (I cried 3 times okay?? Only a few books have the honor of having made me cry)! I think one of the reasons this book really tugged on my heartstrings is that much like the animages (those that have animal magic and can communicate with animals), I am very much an animal person. I empathize maybe a little too much with them, but I can’t really control that. So *certain* parts of this book pulled on those empathetic strings of mine and brought out a reaction I honestly wasn’t expecting. And let’s be real, *that* scene (that I am not going to ruin for all of you) made me ball my eyes out so hard I had to put the book down and walk away. If you want to know what scene I am talking about I suggest you read this book, when you get to that scene you’ll know, you will definitely know. The representation in this book was beyond amazing, and honestly it felt so natural?? Why can’t all books feel and read this way? Nicki did such a wonderful job including rep for the disabled – like Sparrow! Who is a loveable little girl that happens to be blind but in no way lets that slow her fiery spirit down, she is one of my favorite characters! There was also rep for mental illnesses such as phobias!?? Like, how amazing is this book already? Tristan has an incredible and intense fear of fire, which is even more difficult for him because he has to face his fear E V E R Y day since he is a Phoenix Rider. And if you didn’t know, Phoenix’s are… literally made of fire. There was also rep for non-heterosexual romance and I am here for it. I don’t want to ruin who it was between but let’s just say it’s my F A V O R I T E trope in the world, enemies to lovers! I lived for those scenes and saw it coming from the very beginning with those subtle shifts in their interactions and it made my heart stop once or twice at the thought of this romance blossoming into something bigger! I’ve read other early reviews and some people are saying there was a lot of info dumping and it ruined the story for them and I’m like…??? I NEED MORE info on this incredibly detailed world! How could I ever complain about a story that comes with a TIMELINE of past events and a glossary of terms!? Nicki literally built her own world that is entirely unique, and I honestly devoured every page of it. I hope we delve even DEEPER into this rich world in book two! Nicki’s writing style allowed me to perfectly visualize the landscape and the surrounding areas, so much so that I felt as if I was a part of this story. I wish I could be, because who wouldn’t want to be a warrior Phoenix rider? The storyline in Crown of Feathers was also indescribable! I won’t even try to put the synopsis into words, which is why I left the official Goodreads synopsis above! There was so much depth to the characters that I truly cared about the decisions they made, and I loved seeing how the story progressed. Every page was a new adventure and I loved being a part
Anonymous 29 days ago
I loved this so so much! The world is lush, the magic neat, the characters incredible. Told from three POVs, this story dives deep into a history and future of phoenix riders and ruthless queens. It is filled with so many twists and turns and well written scenes that I couldn't put it down. A fantastic debut from a Canadian author.
TheCaffeinatedReader 3 months ago
I couldn’t believe just how complex and diverse a world Preto built, and I don’t mean just the characters I mean the lush history and even topography and geography. Preto has an amazing eye to detail and one that I really want to harp on while I write this. I love world building. I adore it, so, to me the building of the world and showing things off She used details from the past to enhance the present and interweaving them together flawlessly. We have a history of fierce queens and a past tale of sisters that mirrors a present tale. I was nothing short of impressed. She made my heart drop to my stomach and soar back up, and it was the best emotional roller coaster I have ever ridden. I would certainly categorize this as one of the best books of 2019 and one of the best reads of the year for myself/ With books like this and Descendant of the Crane coming out this year, my GoodReads favorite shelf is going to be massive by December. You want to cheer for the Phoenix Riders and you are sitting on the edge of your seat when danger lurks near -and let me tell you that happens quite often-. You are given multi-faceted views of characters, and no one is left 2D, Preto has given us full characters, they may not always be relatable in what they do but their intentions are; well that’s debatable with Val but I won’t judge you if you uh, find yourself identifying with her…just…remind me not to upset you ever. Not to mention Preto had me nearly crying before I even really hit the 15% mark, I mean, seriously, that’s unheard of.