Title: Havenfall (Havenfall #1)
Author: Sara Holland
Genre: YA Fantasy/Urban Fantasy/Mystery
Release Date: March 3rd 2020 from Bloomsbury YA
Format: Library eBook
Goodreads Synopsis: A safe haven between four realms. The girl sworn to protect it–at any cost. New York Times bestselling author Sara Holland crafts a breathtaking new contemporary fantasy perfect for fans of Melissa Albert and Holly Black.
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 . . .
I think we can agree that the cover is STUNNING for this book! Since I saw the cover and read the synopsis, I was curious to try it and I’m glad my Overdrive app had the eBook. This is the first in at least a 2 book series. I haven’t read this author’s previous series, but I was surprised at the dividing rating this book has. But while the beginning had me hooked, this ended up disappointing me with its uneven plot, unnecessary love triangle and feeling too long. Here’s the breakdown of my thoughts:
- Magical Inn: The fact that the setting of Havenfall is a magical inn in the Rocky Mountains is awesome! I haven’t read a book with a magical inn before, so it was nice to have a YA book have unique location. This place was easy to picture and very well imagined with the surrounding trees, large lake and the building’s design. The inn did feel lived in and very important, given the lore of the fantasy worlds.
- Intriguing fantasy worlds: Since we actually don’t visit the fantasy worlds that are mentioned, the author did a great job showing us the lore through objects, the people from these worlds and the way they dressed or talked. Plus with the mystery revolving around a dead body and the door to Solaria being opened again. The worlds that are mentioned are: Fiordenkill (icy world), Solaria (door has been sealed for years) and Byrn (a desert kingdom). I think these worlds were fascinating with what they valued, how they acted and the bits of legends and descriptions of these places. I hope that the sequel might show one, if not all, of these worlds.
- Mystery: While I didn’t end up loving the book, I did want to see what happened with the mystery. A dead body ends up on the inn’s grounds and when the door to Solaria is seen being cracked open, many people think a Solarian is loose. These creatures are shape shifters and little is known about them. I like that these creatures are so mysterious to both Maddie and the people of the other worlds. This mystery of Solarians made the plot a bit less predictable and whether it was a Solarian who killed someone.
- Protagonist struggles: With Maddie being the temporary innkeeper at Havenfall for the majority of the book, I did like that the author shows how Maddie doesn’t know what she’s doing. It felt realistic with how she doesn’t know what to say, her decisions don’t have great outcomes, etc. Some YA books have the pitfall of making the protagonist too good at what they do in a very short amount of time, but I like that this book was the opposite and that was refreshing.
- A love triangle again?: I’m sorry but I don’t like love triangles. While we can be attracted to more than one person in our lifetime, this one felt completely forced to sell the book. It’s obvious to me that Maddie loved Brekken, a boy from Fiordenkill and she loved him. He was the one that she thought about. Taya, a girl who comes to work at the inn, felt only like a friend to Maddie. While Maddie is a bisexual character, the chemistry between her and Taya is NEVER there. She hardly thinks of Taya in a romantic way, so this triangle was completely unnecessary and this did distract the book from the mystery.
- Unmemorable protagonist: Sadly, Maddie wasn’t a great character for me. While she does suffer from a childhood trauma and doesn’t think highly of herself, she doesn’t allow her circumstances to help make her stronger. She’s a very mousy character who hardly stands up for herself, constantly doubting herself and talking herself down. She doesn’t have any genuine growth in this book, only when side characters helped her. She was too one note for me to care about her.
- Messy plot: While this book is just over 300 pages, it felt like a 400 page YA book instead. The mystery plot is really burdened by a side story involving a lady called the Heiress, the “love triangle” mentioned above and just the level of stalling. I felt like the author was dragging this mystery out as long as possible until the last 60 or so pages. The fact that the mystery was pushed back so much makes the tension die! This dead body and distrust building in the guests should’ve been much worse than what the book shows. Hardly any action happens until the last 75 pages and that’s not good enough for me. It should’ve felt like chaos should’ve erupted after the dead body and kept building up. Plus, Maddie leaves the inn way too much and she’s the innkeeper! That was a bit irresponsible of her, since she has to handle the affairs. I hope the next book has a better plot.
Overall: This book ended up falling flat for me by the end. I really liked the beginning with exploring the inn, the whispers of the different fantasy worlds and the murder mystery. But with all my cons I mentioned, this was a messy, dragged out story that stalled too much and killed any tension that was being built in the first quarter of the book. Plus, the protagonist is pretty much a one sided person who isn’t a memorable main character. I will read the sequel when it comes out to see what it could explore, but I’m bummed that this book didn’t live up to my hopes. If this sounds interesting to you still, I do recommend it since the magical inn is cool.
Have you read this? If so, what did you think of it? Do you know of any YA books that have a magical inn? Let me know in the comments!