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Havenfall (Havenfall book 1) by Sara Holland (book review).

August 17, 2020 | By | Reply More

‘Havenfall’ is book one in the ‘Havenfall’ series by Sara Holland.

The reality of ‘Havenfall’ is an urban fantasy where magic does exist but not in our world, but people from magical realms can travel to our world bringing some of their magic with them. This, as you can imagine, is highly dangerous to those of us with no magical abilities. So Havenfall is protected with certain rules, to protect us humans helped by the fact the people from different realms find it hard to breath and will eventually die in other realms.

Luckily, Havenfall is the one place on Earth that people from other realms can visit safely and conduct their business with each other in an annual peace summit. So only a very few humans know about the magical realms and many of those people are summer workers in the Inn who have their memories wiped once the season is over to protect Havenfall. There are a few permanent members of staff such as Maddie’s uncle who know about the different realms and are sworn to protect them.

Havenfall is what looks like an ordinary Inn set in the mountains in Colorado, but it’s much more than that. Havenfall is the single place that joins three ancient worlds, ones that contain a lot more magic than ours appears to. Anyone in any of those other worlds can come to Havenfall and gain refuge but, if you abuse this refuge, then you must leave, never to return.

Maddie Morrow spends her summers with her uncle in Havenfall and she helps him to maintain the fragile peace between the different realms slowly training until she is able to take over the running of the Inn. But this summer things get wildly out of control with her best friend and not of this realm, Brekken, missing. With dead bodies turning up, a dangerous beast on the hunt and her uncle gravely injured, Maddie must try to fix things while not knowing who to turn to.

I have to admit that I didn’t really get on well with this book. I found that there really wasn’t much to get my teeth into as it all seemed to be just world-building to set things up for the next book or books in the series. Given this is only a 300 page book, it took me a lot longer than I expected to get through it as nothing drew me along in terms of plot. It all feels very formulaic with no real depth to anything in terms of plot of characterisation. Maybe if this book had been released as a prequel or after the first proper book had been released to give us some background but this book on its own is not enough in so many ways.

Given this is a bit of a portal fantasy with different realms being accessed from the Inn, I was disappointed in the lack of detail we learnt about these other realms. I really did want to go into these other worlds, surely that’s the point of a portal fantasy to go into different worlds?

I found Maddie to be quite trusting and naive given her situation and the lessons her uncle has taught her. She just seems to go along with whatever people tell her with little need for any kind of evidence. This does mean she gets into some situations that I just found frustrating. She seems to just blunder from one daft decision to the next throughout this book. There is a library filled with knowledge about the different realms in the Inn but she at no point thinks to do a little research.

To be fair, she’s not the only stupid person in this book. It took much longer than I hoped for them to figure out what exactly was going on. The final conclusions were quite obvious given all the clues we were given throughout the book but the characters involved seemed to be quite oblivious to everything being presented to them.

Overall, this book didn’t really do it for me and I’m not sure if I’m going to carry on with this series. Luckily this book doesn’t end on a cliff-hanger, there are some loose threads but on the whole you could leave this series here if you felt the same as me.

Sarah Bruch

August 2020

(pub: Bloomsbury YA, 2020. 305 page hardback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-52662-286-0)

check out website: www.bloomsbury.com

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Category: Books, Fantasy

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