Genre: Fantasy, YA, Urban Fantasy
Beneath the streets of New York City live the Avicen, an ancient race of people with feathers for hair and magic running through their veins. Age-old enchantments keep them hidden from humans. All but one. Echo is a runaway pickpocket who survives by selling stolen treasures on the black market, and the Avicen are the only family she's ever known.
Echo is clever and daring, and at times she can be brash, but above all else she's fiercely loyal. So when a centuries-old war crests on the borders of her home, she decides it's time to act.
Legend has it that there is a way to end the conflict once and for all: find the Firebird, a mythical entity believed to possess power the likes of which the world has never seen. It will be no easy task, but if life as a thief has taught Echo anything, it's how to hunt down what she wants . . . and how to take it.
But some jobs aren't as straightforward as they seem. And this one might just set the world on fire.
When I started this book I will admit to getting a sense of deja vu. I was certain I’d read this story before, and I had in the form of Daughter of Smoke and Bone. But that is far too simplistic a comparison, there are a lot of very strong similarities in this book. A young girl raised in a world not her own by creatures that most would attribute to being fairytales? Yes. A war between two species with said girl being caught in the middle? Yes. A girl able to travel around the world simply using magical doors? Yes. There are more similarities than that, but that would be spoilers. You would think this would have turned me off of the book, but it didn’t. This happens in fantasy from time to time, I think Melissa Grey simply had the misfortune of me reading DoSaB before I ever found this book. I powered through, because the similarities weren’t so awful that I could not read, it was not a direct copy, it just happened to be similar I think. I just wanted to begin with this, so if I go with the biggest drawback I found there is no place for me to go with this review but up.
I am going to state now I did love this book, so my review will be coloured by all of this love I’m feeling for it. I liked the character of Echo, I was uncertain because of the similarities stated above, but I think the reason I persisted so willingly was because Echo was such an easy character to like. She enjoyed reading, so I could definitely relate, and her fascination with words was awesome. I found a few good words in this book, and it was definitely one of my favourite elements. In particular the German word for a face that needs a fist in it was hilarious. I told a friend at work and it has officially become our word for the week. Things like that are what make me love a story, the small details of a character that make them a bit more real, and Grey has done that so effectively with character of Echo. I also loved the fact she was a thief, not a hardcore one, but she definitely has a touch of sticky fingers when the need arises. I have a thing for thieves in books, don’t know what it is that makes me like them, I just do.
There is a romance in this book, and I was concerned it would be the obvious romance that we see far too often in fantasy novels, and it is in a way, but it is hardly touched upon. There are hints of romance, and there is a sort of love triangle I could see developing, but doesn’t dominate like it too often can. If anything it is the friendships of this book that reign. Ivy and Echo’s friendship was perfect, they were both so in sync as only best friends can be, but perfectly oblivious at the most inopportune moments, such as when we are first introduced to the character of Rowan and Echo is obviously hinting she wants a bit of alone time Ivy completely doesn’t get it, the same way me and my friends used to be, and still are really. I loved that. And I loved how Echo and Ivy talked honestly about things other than boys, but about Echo’s constant feeling of being an outsider, and Ivy comforts her, but doesn’t sugar coat it and admits, rather unintentionally, that she isn’t part of their world, but that doesn’t necessarily mean she doesn’t have a family. Something that becomes obvious as the book progresses. I think it was the small scenes that appear insignificant, but mean everything in terms of character development, that Grey did best, and really made me love this book.
Another good point are the different species, there are dragons (love me a good dragon book) and there are the Avicen, a bird race, and they are a bit more unique than you see in some books. I liked that they stood out and were written in a new and different way, because sometimes dragons can get a bit boring, so I think the Avicen are a good race to have warring with them. It was interesting, and I enjoyed it, it was a mega plus point for this book.
Overall I adored it, I couldn’t quite give it a 5 star rating, but I adored it none the less. I cannot wait for the next book to see how this story will develop.
Has anyone else read it, if so let me know your thought. And did you notice the same similarities as me? Do you find it off-putting when you notice stories having the same idea as another book you’ve read or do you take it as it comes?