A 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.

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, Sara Holland
March 3, 2020

This book really has everything I could have ever wanted: portal fantasy, queer characters, magic and mystery! A pretty cover! An author I’ve loved before!

And yet, I couldn’t get into it. At all.

There was something about the pacing, something about the characters that I just couldn’t get into. I loved Sara Holland’s Everless duology. That one pulled me in from the veryfirst line. But Havenfall just… didn’t.

I had to DNF it at like, chapter 2 because I just couldn’t see myself enjoying it going forward. I’m trying to not lose myself to forcing a way through a book if I’m not going to like it. It’s never an easy decision to put down a book. I want to love everything that comes across my path, especially books that tick off all the boxes.

And Havenfall, despite promising everything I could ever want, wasn’t for me.

My Rating:

Inkmistress ★★★☆☆

Inkmistress_JKT_des2_CC15.inddI wanted to love Inkmistress. I wanted to so hard; I knew it was a prequel-companion type to Of Fire and Stars, which I hadn’t read yet but c’mon, queer ladies! I got about halfway through the book before I just had to put it down…

Asra is a demigod with a dangerous gift: the ability to dictate the future by writing with her blood. To keep her power secret, she leads a quiet life as a healer on a remote mountain, content to help the people in her care and spend time with Ina, the mortal girl she loves.

But Asra’s peaceful life is upended when bandits threaten Ina’s village and the king does nothing to help. Desperate to protect her people, Ina begs Asra for assistance in finding her manifest—the animal she’ll be able to change into as her rite of passage to adulthood. Asra uses her blood magic to help Ina, but her spell goes horribly wrong and the bandits destroy the village, killing Ina’s family.

Unaware that Asra is at fault, Ina swears revenge on the king and takes a savage dragon as her manifest. To stop her, Asra must embark on a journey across the kingdom, becoming a player in lethal games of power among assassins, gods, and even the king himself.

Most frightening of all, she discovers the dark secrets of her own mysterious history—and the terrible, powerful legacy she carries in her blood.

A bisexual demigoddess! Searching for her love who’s on a hell-bent quest for revenge! How awesome does that sound! As a queer author myself, I wanted to devour this book immediately!

Unfortunately, it only sounded awesome. I was disappointed as I read the story. I was into it at first, the first few chapters revolving around Ina and Asra were great, but then things took a turn when Ina went off. Things stopped making sense.

There was no tension. A rogue group of bandits attack Ina’s village and burn it to the ground because Asra used her blood magic to force the future, but then when Ina takes her animal form–a great dragon (awesome!)–she immediately finds the bandits and burns them to a crisp. There’s no hunt, no tension, no “will Asra stop Ina in time to save these people who should be punished but not by dragon fire?” going on. It was immediate and not at all satisfying.

I couldn’t get into the rest of the story; once Ina had disposed of the bandits, she suddenly wanted to go kill the king–something that came out of the blue. That left Asra trying to run after her. Asra meets another kid of the wind god and she realizes that she’s not who she thought she was and she’s left wondering who her godly parents really is. For this plot point alone I would have kept reading.

But I just couldn’t get myself to enjoy the dialogue; it felt forced and stiff, a little too out of place for a high fantasy story.

But I didn’t hate the book. I loved its rich magic and Coulthurst had some amazing worldbuilding too. But Inkmistress just wasn’t for me.

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