Overall rating: 🖤🖤🖤.🖤
Romance rating: flexible 18+
I went back and forth on how to rate this book, and I struggled for a while on putting my finger on exactly what it was that pulled this book back from being rated 4 stars. Grace Draven cultivates immediate intrigue in the first chapters of Phoenix Unbound, and I found myself turning page after page eagerly. The middle began to lull for me, and the pacing slowed. The characters are compelling, so I continued reading towards the ultimate crescendo of the novel, and JUST when I thought Draven was going to pull the rug out from under my expectations as a reader, the direction shifted and the novel tied together in a wholly unexpected way. I think this would have worked if the twist had felt more planned, and less crafted by happenstance. I feel there is a difference between a plot twist, and finishing a series with an unexplained bang – just to have some sort of ending. For those that have read the book or intend to, I am speaking of the very, very end.
Some of the best features of this book were the world-building and the deeply rich lore. Draven created an immersive world that is rich in its flavor and surroundings, and I found myself enraptured by their depiction. While this book might not be one that I purchase for my personal collection, I would certainly recommend this book to others if they are fans of fantasy and compelling backstories for their female heroines.
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