by Sara Holland
Publication Date: March 3rd 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Find This Book: Havenfall
I was given an ARC of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Can we take a second to stare in awe at this gorgeous cover??? Havengall is an inn at the top of a mountain with tunnels deep under it that facilitate traveling between realms in relation to the cycles of the seasons (particularly equinox's). It's so gorgeous and also captures so much meaning in relation to the plot! I didn't even notice the face/neck/shoulders of a person until my 7th time looking at the cover!
Havenfall is about an in that is the heart of all the realms, one of which being Earth where our main character Maddie is from. She arrives for the summer to visit the inn, run by her uncle, which hosts an annual convention of inter-realm relations and trade. Hoping for a romantic summer with her childhood friend Brekkan, she instead walks into the political turmoil of the century!
I really enjoyed the fantasy world that Holland creates for us, and the way that the Havenfall inn must maintain impartiality towards each of the three realms. The role of Innkeeper is something Maddie hopes to step into one day, when her uncle wants to retire, but turmoil, violence, and betrayal leads to her unexpected ‘promotion’ before she’s been trained and prepared for it. Will she maintain order? Or are the worlds about to destroy all alliances?
I love love LOVE Maddie as a character. She’s got a Tragic Past™ that for once is actually used to create depth in not only herself but also in the narrative going forward. Her interactions with love interests are very cute, and this is the first time I’ve read about a character who was bisexual and comfortable with that knowledge. A lot of times, I feel like sexuality is portrayed as a struggle and an identity crisis, and while that can certainly be the case it felt so positive to see a model who’s already confident in who she is, even if she’s not confident in her new political Innkeeper role.
How the different realms interacted and the power dynamics of the different delegations (and all their magical powers) were so cool to read and felt really well thought-out as magical systems go. I can’t say too much without getting into spoiler territory but I’m so excited for the sequel already! I need more Taya in my life.