Maddie Morrow is a girl who wants to escape from her life. The daughter of a murderer, her mother, the innocent women who wouldn’t admit the mystical truth behind her sons killing, now put on death row. So she escapes, from life, from death, from everything, to become bland. Going behind her fathers back to live with her uncle at the Havenfall Inn, a magical interstitial between the 3 remaining realms: Fiordenkill, Byrn, and Haven, or, as we call it, Earth. Home.
One day she hopes to become the great Innkeeper of Havenfall, a diplomat between worlds and the holder of peace, representative of the neutral ground that is Earth, the only realm without magic of it’s own but ever in the company of the elemental Byrnisians and the magical blooded, healing Fiordens. It’s the only place Maddie can ever feel normal. But this summer solstice the Inn’s been put in perils way when the door to a sealed realm begins to crack and the beasts, the Solarians, start to seep out. With her uncle out of commission and the summit just beginning Maddie finds herself suddenly thrown into a world of mystery, terror, and innkeeping.
I personally really enjoyed Havenfall, it’s been on my TBR list for a long time and so finally getting to read it has been a breath of fresh air. Sara Holland is a great writer who understands how to create a complex set of characters that play off of each other in unique and meaningful ways, weaving them together into a grand mystery with twists, turns, and reveals that’ll leave you in awe at all the oh so carefully placed foreshadowing that sprinkles this novel like a cupcake but with murder and corruption.
As well the general concept of the whole thing, with multiple realms coming into great alliances under the pretext of an unsuspecting inn high in the mountains of Denver, Colorado being a great set-up for any kind of story. There were so many directions this story could’ve, and did go. It’s got a complex history that makes you want to keep reading, the magic is kept simple as the mystical nature of magic is expanded, and despite the inability to crossover into the other realms the little explanations and subtle descriptions we do get set your mind running. A great example of narrative world building done right.
Of course not everything is sunshine and rainbows, I found the prose lacking in many ways throughout the story, and occasionally the dialogue would become stilted as the pacing of certain events were seemingly mishandled and scenes that should’ve been more powerful were dropped down a few notches from what they should’ve been creating a less impactful experience over all.
And also, Maddie, our main character can be so stupid sometimes, as if the author had heard about plot armor, flipped it on it’s head and called it plot blindness. I could go off on a whole tangent exploring every little detail about why Maddie should’ve figured things out at certain times and how it actually would’ve made the story better, but I’d like to keep my sanity and keep my heart running at a steady rate.
But, overall, I give the story a middle 3 to 4 stars, a 3, possibly even a 2, if you really don’t like it’s flaws, but personally I found it fine, a quick, short, and good read. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes the idea of different realms or universes, and also if you enjoy Fablehaven, general mysteries, and novels filled to the brim with suspense and tension then you’ll most likely enjoy Havenfall. Magic, realms, and a girl with no greater goal in life than to put it all back together, Havenfall is a sprawling, fantastical, and thrilling mystery that unfolds right before your very eyes.
Oops, forgot to mention, there’s also a couple swear words, so watch out for that sh—