Havenfall by Sara Holland

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Havenfall by Sara Holland

Buy Havenfall by Sara Holland at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: An enjoyable YA magical fantasy with lots of adventure and delicious descriptions of the created world. The premise of a clearly signalled series is set up well and the characters are interesting with plenty of room for development, but we'd have liked some of the plot and character set-ups to have been better disguised.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: March 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1547603794  

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Maddie Morrow is supposed to spending the summer with her Grandma Ellen. But after a visit to her mother in prison, Maddie wants nothing more than to go to Havenfall to see her uncle, Marcus. It's the only place she feels truly at home. Maddie's father, understandably, is not keen on Maddie spending time with her mother's family - because the crime Maddie's mum is languishing on death row for committing is the murder of Maddie's brother...

... but Maddie knows her mother is innocent. And keeping the secret - that her brother Nate was killed by a monster from another world - is almost more than she can bear. Especially when she sees how her mother has lost all hope.

So Havenfall it is. Havenfall - the gateway to other worlds, the place that keeps the peace between worlds, and where Maddie's uncle Marcus is the Innkeeper - the guardian of the treaty and the host of the annual summer summit. And where Maddie will find Brekken, the boy she loves, now a soldier of Fiordenkill. But things go wrong almost from the start: there's a strange man on the bus, she's almost run over by Taya, a girl going for a summer job at Havenfall, and things with Brekken get complicated.

And then... there's a murder. And Marcus in a coma. And the Silver Prince of Byrn telling Maddie to take control. Is Maddie ready? Was it Brekken who murdered the Silver Prince's manservant? Can the door to Solaria be closed now it has been opened, allowing the monsters within to roam free in the land of humans? 

I do like a good fantasy mystery and Havenfall was an enjoyable read. Holland captures her world well and describes it in evocative detail. There's a large of cast of characters - I particularly liked The Heiress, who is imperious and mysterious but whose heart is in the right place. And Graylin, Marcus's gentle husband, whose healing magic defines his kindly personality. And the novel ends on the perfect set up for further instalments in a fun fantasy series with some serious messages about co-operation overcoming differences.

It's not perfect: some of the plot points were too heavily signalled and I'd guessed most of the reveals long before they arrived. And Maddie's initial indecisiveness didn't improve sufficiently by the end to make her a truly satisfying central character. Oh, and Brekken was delicious and we needed more of him. But these are nitpicks really - fans of the fantasy genre will find everything they're looking for in Havenfall - magic, adventure, an interesting multi-world environment with lots of potential for future stories, and a sweet love story for the central character.

If you like the look of Havenfall and haven't already, you should read Everless, also by Holland. It ties magic to time to currency - a brilliant and fresh concept. And for a fantasy series exploring the meeting of the human world with others, we love Firebrand (Rebel Angels) by Gillian Philip.

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Buy Havenfall by Sara Holland at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Havenfall by Sara Holland at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Havenfall by Sara Holland at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Havenfall by Sara Holland at Amazon.com.

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