Havenfall by Sara Holland

havenfall by sara hollandA safe haven between four realms. 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 their own magic–together. For generations, the inn has protected all who seek refuge within its walls, and any who disrupt the peace can never return.

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
ISBN: 1547603798

Pages: 320
Publication Date: 3 March 2020
RRP: $16.99 AUD

Personal Rating:

For Maddie Morrow, summers at the inn are more than a chance to experience this magic first-hand. 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 . . .

Thank you to BloomsburyYA Sydney for an advance copy of this novel!

Havenfall is a fun light fantasies that are good to devour over a lazy weekend. In this portal world fantasy we follow the story of Maddie Morrow a short-haired, Doc Martens-wearing bisexual, who is the niece of the owner of the magical inn Haven. Haven is the neural zone between four magical realms who use the magic less Earth as a place of negotiation. Maddie desperately wants to prove to her uncle that she is ready to learn the ropes and begin her training of becoming the next innkeeper, but after a mysterious murder in the inn by creatures from a land long sealed off Maddie finds herself trying to fill in the shoes of her injured uncle while trying figure out the murder mystery, seal the recently open portal and trying to figure out where her best friend disappeared to.

The overall story was enjoyable, a perfect palate cleanser after reading too many intense fantasy or scifi stories. The fast pace plot is easy to get lost in, but it was nothing special. It is predictable to the point that it was easy to pinpoint the antagonist and the everyone’s underlying role in the story. Sara Holland’s world building was the only thing that kept the novel from being a flop, in particularly the mystery of the other reals. There was Fiordenkill, a world covered in ice and frost where animals are massive, colourful and beautiful and the world is always under breath taking auroras of magic and starts. Then there is Byrn, a world in ruins due to sweltering heat and unstoppable storms due the misuse of their magic. The only reason Byrn is still standing is because their king built an Oasis behind magical walls to keep the population safe from the destructive storms. Finally there is Solaria, a realm sealed off over a hundred years ago that everyone fears but does not really remember much of aside that they were filled with powerful shapeshifter with advanced technology that the other realms feared. I hope the sequel explores these worlds in more detail.

The novel is told through the first-person present point of view of Maddie, which is interesting because Maddie suffers from PSTD. Many times during the novel the memories of her past would drown her mind and make her incapable of making decisions for a few minutes because her brain would just not let her. However, the novel was never about her PSTD, her mental illness is part of her and it is never mocked or made the key element of her personality (nor was her bisexuality). It is nice seeing representation being part of a novel in a casual manner. Sometimes her PSTD made her be constantly scared or emotionally weak but those factors made Maddie more real as a character. Maddie is a badass female character without needing to be strong and literature needs more Maddies. Maddie was not the only character to fall in love with, because the people you fall in love with are the characters that Maddie finds intriguing and holds meaningful connections with. When her uncle falls incapacitated, Maddie’s pain becomes your pain because the relationship the two characters have is genuine and not just there for the sake of the story.

It is worth the read if you don’t want invest too much time and effort in an urban fantasy world. I feel like Havenfall leans into the younger side of YA readers but it is still enjoyable and it has a great cast of LGBTQAI+ characters who have actual personalities and purpose rather than being queer. There is mystery, fantasy, scooby-doisk murders, magic and genuine relationships. This 300 page book will be perfect for a weekend read.

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