'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Saturday 27 June 2020

Review: Havenfall

Maddie loves spending her summers at her uncle’s inn, in the Rocky mountains – particularly as she’ll meet up with the hunky Brekken and continue their summer relationship. 

Who cares that he’s royalty from another world? She knows their relationship is unlikely to go any further, as her family must be neutral. 

The inn covers an ancient gateway to three magical realms that use our non-magical world as a neutral meeting ground.

Maddie is learning to host the exotic delegates from two of these realms, as she will one day step into the innkeeper role. 

Not a straightforward task, as the realms exist in an uneasy truce. What they all agree on is that the third world, Solaria, cannot be trusted and is rightfully sealed off, due to being populated by treacherous beasts.

But this summer, everything changes.

Brekken goes missing after stealing Maddie’s keys during a snogging session. And her uncle Marcus is left in a coma following what seems to be an outbreak from the Solaria realm – leaving her in charge.

This is a fun and fast-paced novel. However, it starts with an introduction to the ancient realms, and then a prologue, which may take readers out of the story before it even begins. But it’s worth reading past this, as the characters are well-developed and the situation escalates quite rapidly. 

The well-used trope of the out-of-place teenager who harbours magical secrets came close to grating on me, but thankfully Holland skirted past this quickly and settled into the action and the escalating complications. The world-building was efficient and the tensions were believable. 

There are quite a few twists in the story, some of which were predictable, but one that took me by surprise – my criteria for good plotting. There is also a love triangle that Holland did not resolve by the end, with the twist that it involved Maddie’s attraction to a mysterious girl who has a share of secrets.

Havenfall’s themes of prejudice and the toxic effects of exploitation of a vulnerable population are handled deftly and add depth to this fantasy about ancient conflicts between multiverses. The ending leaves room for a sequel.

Title: Havenfall
Author: Sara Holland
Publisher: Bloomsbury, $16.99
Publication Date: 3 March 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781526614889
For ages: 12+
Type: Young Adult Fiction