And here we go again – another ALA 2019 book that I had sitting on my shelf for forever before I finally picked it up… Today, I am reviewing Havenfall by Sara Holland, an ARC that I managed to snag and just haven’t had the time to pick up. I finally decided to read it because I also had an ARC of Phoenix Flame sitting on my kindle that I had to read – so I read both!
Havenfall by Sara Holland
Published: March 3, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy
A safe haven between four realms and the girl sworn to protect it—at any cost.
Hidden deep in the mountains of Colorado lies the Inn at Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds—each with its own magic. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.
For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic firsthand. Havenfall is an escape from reality, where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering Maddie’s brother. It’s where Maddie fell in love with handsome Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper from her beloved uncle.
But this summer, the impossible happens—a dead body is found, shattering everything the inn stands for. With Brekken missing, her uncle gravely injured, and a dangerous creature on the loose, Maddie suddenly finds herself responsible for the safety of everyone in Havenfall. She’ll do anything to uncover the truth, even if it means working together with an alluring new staffer, Taya, who seems to know more than she’s letting on. As dark secrets are revealed about the inn itself, one thing becomes clear to Maddie—no one can be trusted, and no one is safe…
Bestselling author Sara Holland pulls readers into an enchanting world where both power and peril lurk behind every door.
Starting off, I did read her previous book Everless but have not yet read Evermore, so I was aware of her writing style before picking up Havenfall. I heard some mixed reviews about this book – some say they loved it, others say they hated it, which is kind of expected, but also not great. Usually my friends and the people I follow all have similar taste in books, so to see such a divide made me a little nervous. But once I jumped in, I was so excited for this book.
One thing I didn’t realize about this book, but loved, is that our main character Maddie is bisexual! It always makes me so happy to have bisexual representation in books, or really any LGBTQ+ rep in books, and to have a bisexual MC, lesbian side character, and a gay uncle made me like this book so much more – we love the representation. In terms of Maddie as a character herself, I thought she was great. Sure, I didn’t always agree with her thought process/thinking at times, but you could tell how much she loves Havenfall and her family, so any decision supporting that is one I can support too.
Taya and Brekken as the unrecognized love triangle was also perfection. Taya as a side character was one we didn’t see a lot of in the middle, but when she was present, sparks were flying. I liked how they were introduced and you could see the friendship blooming between them soon after. Every time Maddie was with Taya I was anxiously waiting to see what would happen! And then, of course, Maddie’s already established crush on Brekken flaring up even when she thinks she’s been betrayed just made things so complicated. And I loved that.
One thing that I wasn’t a big fan of was the thing that jump started this whole plot – her Uncle Marcus falling unconscious/ill and unable to run the inn. We got to interact with Marcus in person for half a second before he’s attacked and unreachable. I wished we could have gotten more than that one half of a scene with him before he was indisposed of. While I don’t actually hate the plot point, I just wished we got to interact with him a little more before he was out of the picture.
Honestly, this book was really good. I had some issues with plot movement as some things moved very slowly versus others which seemed to fly by, but all in all, this was a good book. I really liked Everless and I’m happy to say that I liked Havenfall too! This was such a unique story idea and I think Sara did an amazing job bringing this story to life, flaws and all.
If this book sounds interesting, be sure to check out Sara’s other duology Everless and Evermore. Or, check out Unchosen by Katharyn Blair – a contemporary dystopian following a girl trying to protect her sister, the Chosen One, so she can save the world.