YA Fantasy Reviews: Havenfall & Dark Tide

July 30, 2020 by Jeann @ Happy Indulgence | 3 stars, Books, Reviews

YA Fantasy Reviews: Havenfall & Dark Tide

YA Fantasy Reviews: Havenfall & Dark TideHavenfall by Sara Holland
Published by Bloomsbury YA on March 3, 2020
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism, Fantasy & Magic
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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A safe haven between four realms and the girl sworn to protect it—at any cost.
Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds—each with its own magic. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.
For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic firsthand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie's brother. It's where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it's where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.
But this summer, the impossible happens—a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She'll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer, Taya, who seems to know more than she's letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie—no one can be trusted, and no one is safe...
Bestselling author Sara Holland pulls readers into an enchanting world where both power and peril lurk behind every door.

The concept behind Havenfall was so fascinating – it’s a magical inn between the cross-roads of 4 unique realms, and I loved that about it! I really appreciated the description of each of these realms at the start of the book as well and it was easy to refer back to it as the plot went on.

One of my favourite parts of the book was definitely the monsters and the magic within the book – it was interesting hearing about how the decisions of the past Innkeeper and the political alliances worked in Havenfall, which is meant to be a neutral place.

Havenfall is built upon a murder mystery where the main character, who is now the Innkeeper, must find out who has killed one of the escaped Solarians before it’s too late and all spirals out of control. It was interesting enough, however some of the clues were way too obvious and what I suspected at the start of the book was carried out towards the end. Which kind of ruined the intrigue for me. The romance builds up really fast as a result of pining that has happened before we meet the characters, but thankfully it doesn’t really take up a central focus, which I was really glad about.

The main character Maddie, who has had a role thrust upon her before she could prepare herself for it, had a lot of insecurities about her new role (which isn’t hard to believe). It was kind of refreshing to have a main character that isn’t totally perfect, because I felt like it made things more realistic. She makes a lot of mistakes, but treats them as a learning experience. She is naive at times, and tends to go with her gut rather than seek advice/counsel which was kind of frustrating to see, but this made it all the more believable.

Many of the other characters – Taya, Brekken, Marcus, etc. were quite one-dimensional and I didn’t feel like we got to know them too well aside from the plot twists. It was nice to see the queer relationships form a big part of who they were.

I really enjoyed Havenfall and the concept behind it, as well as the murder mystery too, even though the twists were a bit too predictable. I’m hoping we actually get to visit the other realms in a sequel.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thanks to Bloomsbury Australia for sending me a review copy.

 

YA Fantasy Reviews: Havenfall & Dark TideThe Dark Tide by Alicia Jasinska
Published by Penguin Random House Australia on August 4, 2020
Source: Publisher
Genres: Young Adult, LGBT, Fantasy & Magic
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia
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Every year on Walpurgis Night, Caldella's Witch Queen lures a young boy back to her palace. An innocent life to be sacrificed on the full moon to keep the island city from sinking.
Convinced her handsome brother is going to be taken, sixteen-year-old Lina Kirk enlists the help of the mysterious Tomas Lin, her secret crush, and the only boy to ever escape from the palace. Working together they protect her brother, but draw the Queen's attention. When the Queen spirits Tomas away instead, Lina blames herself and determines to go after him.
Caught breaking into the palace, the Queen offers Lina a deal: she will let Tomas go, if, of course, Lina agrees to take his place. Lina accepts, with a month before the full moon, surely she can find some way to escape. But the Queen is nothing like she envisioned, and Lina is not at all what the Queen expected. Against their will, they find themselves falling for each other. As water floods Caldella's streets and the dark tide demands its sacrifice, they must choose who to save: themselves, each other, or the island city relying on them both.

I really enjoyed the premise, about a Queen taking her next sacrifice to satiate the Island’s dark tide, and was really enjoying the beautiful writing at the start of the book. I was really curious about why Eva had become the Queen and why Thomas had gotten away, and what Lina was going to do to save him.

However, this is one of those books that felt so padded with overly descriptive writing, and didn’t offer too much in terms of plot or character development. I felt like the characters were quite one-dimensional, and a lot of the mystery and intrigue that was offered at the start didn’t really follow through. I probably can’t describe the character’s beyond Lina being a naive, silly girl and Eva who has a sea serpent as a pet, who wants to do better for her island.

Around the halfway mark, it ended up feeling a lot draggier and by the end I just felt even more frustrated. Many of the questions that had come up while reading the book weren’t really addressed by the end, especially when the entire plot hinges on the Dark Tide and the sacrifices that the island takes.

While The Dark Tide, is a beautifully written debut, I wish there was more character development, more answers behind the world, more depth, more romance, and just more of…everything.

Rating: 3 out of 5

Thanks to Penguin Random House for sending me a review copy.

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Jeann is an Aussie YA blogger and mum who loves to read and recommend books! You can usually find me fangirling about books on my various social media channels including Twitter @happyindulgence, Instagram and Youtube.

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4 responses to “YA Fantasy Reviews: Havenfall & Dark Tide

  1. I really liked these two but do agree with your thoughts! I Just wanted MORE from both of them ✨deeper character development for sure, I think that makes all the difference? Dark Tide’s gorgeous writing was everything but I almost thought the backstory was more intriguing?! I wanted to know about Thomas and Eva and her sister and all those dynamics
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