Wake of the Phoenix Review

Wake of the Phoenix Review | Chelsea Harper

I loved the sound of this from the synopsis and was eager to dive in. Although it took until halfway before I was properly immersed, I enjoyed it. There’s an intriguing plot but it’s the characters who made this work for me. Here’s my review on Wake of the Phoenix.

Publisher: BooksGoSocial | Date: 2021 | Genre: Fantasy

Plot: War Hero. Thiefmaster’s apprentice. Traitors. Every title comes with a price.

Arkaen is a gods-damned saint. He sacrificed his childhood innocence fighting for the beleaguered rebellion in a civil war and relinquished a comfortable life with the man he loves to reclaim his place as high lord from corrupt nobles. Now, a hidden enemy is manipulating his lower lords into talk of rebellion, including the powerful Rogue Baron who is slowly swaying the city into questioning every move Arkaen makes.

With the help of his near-omniscient lover’s gift of foresight, Arkaen finds a potential ally in Niamsha, a reluctant thief trying to pay for her brother’s education. But Niamsha owes an insurmountable debt to the mysterious leader of her thieves guild and failing to pay means death—for her entire family. When her guild leader demands she join forces with the Rogue Baron himself, she finds herself caught in a political battle beyond her skills. Torn between protecting her family and following her conscience, Niamsha doesn’t know who to trust.

If Arkaen can win Niamsha’s loyalty, he might just prevent a second civil war and the destruction of everything he fought to protect. Or he might get them all killed.

I received Wake of the Phoenix from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Wake of the Phoenix Review

Wake of the Phoenix Review

I wasn’t initially certain by Wake of the Phoenix. I struggled to identify with the characters, and the world and powers involved confused me. But it drew me in and I found myself gripped about where loyalties would lie and what the outcome would be. What more do you want?

Characters

Wake of the Phoenix is told through multiple narrations: a ruler, his lover/prophet/demon, his sister, and a street-smart young woman who lives on the wrong side of the law. The changing perspective made it hard to engage and harder still to figure out what was going on.

Arkaen is my favourite. He’s rash, headstrong and proud, but do not stand in his way when he’s righting a wrong. Unable to show his love for Kilasha, he instead throws himself into doing what’s best for his people.

Kilasha is… complicated. It’s hard to explain what his powers are other than seeing possible futures? This threw me off: witnessing multiple timelines made it tricky to determine what was really happening.

The Arkean/Kilasha relationship is gorgeous – they’re so tender with each other when in private. I loved them!

I wanted to like Niamsha, I really did. Considering she’s street-smart and has learnt to survive, she’s naïve. Her feelings come in absolutes and it was hard to connect to her. Chapters from her perspective didn’t draw me in the way the others did. She disappointed me.

Lasha sighed. “Fate is not kind to its chosen pawns.” He offered the explanation as though it answered the distance forced between them by this plan of his. It should have been calming.

Themes

It feels there’s a prequel with this due to the complex backstory. However, it contains a lot of off-screen violence. Descriptions of torture and sexual abuse were scattered throughout, and although retrospective, it was dark. It didn’t feel needed and could turn people off the book.

Plot

The story boils down to a rebellious lord trying overthrowing his ruler. But there’s so many different undercurrents and political schemes; remembering who was loyal proved challenging. As previously mentioned, it took a while before I felt I had picked up the current of the book and knew what was going on.

Perhaps due to this confusion, the pace felt slow and the tension didn’t start to really build for me until we reached the twists towards the end. It needed something to pull you in earlier.

I also didn’t like the ending. It was so absolute, and therefore frustrating, in the way a character changes opinion about everyone. It may set up the second book, but it didn’t work for me.

Final Thoughts

Despite the confusion and complexities of this world, I enjoyed Wake of the Phoenix. Once it picked up, I didn’t want to put it down. There were enough twists and surprises that I was eager to keep reading: I was invested in the characters and their story. A solid read.

Is this book on your TBR? Do you like the sound of it?

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