Phoenix Unbound by Grace Draven
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book kept me apprehensive for a good half of it. Chiefly because there’s hardly anything I really really hate to read about more than people who get off on torturing and humiliating others. And in the beginning of this book, there is enough of that for a few. There’s torture, slavery, rape, humiliation, murder, people being burned alive and generally treated like worthless dirt left and right. It was pretty difficult to get through, to be honest. Since I was going into this blind (I got this book through a subscription box and have never read anything by this author before), and with a beginning like that, I sat ready to throw this book as far as I can at any signs of more gruesome rape and gore following.
And while the gore is still there, I was pleasantly surprised by many choices the author made going forward. This book reminded me that I must be still a girl deep inside, because it is, let us be honest, chiefly a romance before all else, and it got into my head like I never expected it to. It gave me a lot of anxiety, and got into my dreams. I honestly couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The main characters are very easy to like. I can hardly remember the last I found main characters as easy to like and understand as these two. They are not stupid, they are not annoying, they are not arrogant, or closed-minded, and, while they do make questionable decisions, they don’t act like self-centered idiots who constantly need to establish dominance over each other, and I really can’t stress enough how much I appreciate this.
I do think the writing has a few issues. The switching between POVs was sometimes hard to follow, and time was swallowed in strange ways. And I also wish there was a bit more to this book. The second half especially, felt a little rushed. I think this book could do with some more substance around its middle, definitely, because the world is there and it is interesting enough to be spread out a bit more around the romance and the main struggles of the main characters.
I was planning to give this book 4 stars, even if mostly because first chapters were really unpleasant and I can’t in any honesty say I loved it while those chapters are still in this book, but I’m actually going to be sappy and add an extra star just for the ending. Because thank you for not crashing us.
P.S. I also not sure I actually want to read a sequel to this… Because, wile I definitely would want more of this book, I definitely don’t want any more shit to happen to these two. And I also really didn’t want that thing who we all know shouldn’t have survived this book to survive… and since it did, it’s easy to predict that if there will be a sequel, it most likely will feature its revenge and… I really don’t want to read about any more things that thing might do to make the lives of these characters (and all beings in general) miserable. Let’s just leave them with the ending we’ve got… (If we could have a book that was about these characters without any more disturbing terrible things happening to them and around them, now I would read the shit out of that.)