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…
Havenfall was a bit of a miss for me. I felt like it took a little while to really get going – I felt like the balance between info dumping and action was a bit out at the start, and it was perhaps a bit underwhelming in the end, with quite a few things left unanswered (but not necessarily in a cliffhanger way?). There was really a lot going on in this book, maybe a little too much – it felt like there were some cool threads that just didn’t quite have space to grow. The other thing I couldn’t quite get along with in this book was the first person perspective – this is definitely a personal preference, and it’s something that often rubs me the wrong way, especially in YA books for some reason.
I do think this book gave a great introduction to the world Holland has created though – I feel like this might be one of those situations where the first book does all of the world building so that the series can take off in the subsequent books. I have to admit, this isn’t my favourite – I think I prefer when the first book is written so that it could be a stand alone and the series grows from there.
Despite the way it sounds, I quite liked the latter part of the book, and am keen to see how book two goes now that so much of the world building has been done. Havenfall showed us glimpses through the portal into other worlds, but I’m really interested to actually visit them. I I liked the end but it felt a bit like it was the end of a different story than the start.
I thought the magic in the world of Havenfall was really cool, and there were some pretty cool reveals throughout the story. I really enjoyed the friendship and flirting between Maddie and Taya although I did sometimes feel like the pacing of their relationship felt a bit off.
If you’re into young adult portal fantasy then I think this is worth a read, although it might be a more satisfying read if you wait until its sequel is available too.
Havenfall by Sara Holland
Out now from Bloomsbury
Source: I received a free advance copy from Bloomsbury (Thank you!)
Category: YA portal fantasy fiction
Themes: family, magic, sisters, finding your place
Havenfall on Goodreads