I don’t have New Year’s resolutions anymore.
Life is too unpredictable to be certain that I will do something regularly in a new year or even once in a new year.
But I have immense faith in the power of Goodreads yearly Reading Challenge.
It ensures that I will read a certain amount of books even if the world around me is on fire, just so that I can see their beautiful collage which shows my year in books at the end of each year.
I aimed rather low this year and pledged 21 books for the 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge.
And here I am at the end of September wondering why I haven’t updated it even once!
I know, end of September is not ideal to begin working on yearly goals. (It’s almost time to start planning for 2022, isn’t it?)
But I love new beginnings, and as far as I am concerned, they can happen at the end of September too.
I read Havenfall by Sara Holland recently, so its impression is fresh on me.
So I just thought of sharing and saving my present thoughts about my 1st new (read) book of 2021.
What Brought me to the book Havenfall by Sara Holland?
The interest-inspiring cover of the Havenfall book captured my attention, which is designed by the British Illustrator Peter Strain.
This is the first book I read by the author Sar koa Holland, but the description of the book involved magic, which kind of sealed the deal for me.
And thus, Havenfall by Sara Holland became my first read of the year 2021.
What Took me In About The Havenfall Book 1 by Sara Holland?
The Brief Introduction of the Adjacent Realms
The author kindly introduces the different realms in the book even before we start our reading journey.
I got to know the four different realms which are Fiordenkill, Byrn, Solaria, Haven, and the Omphalos.
Each of these realms or locations is described briefly, mentioning its characteristic features and the people who live there.
The three realms Fiordenkill, Byrn, and Solaria are magical, but Haven, which is the earth, apparently has no magic of its own.
The rules are pretty clear, people from different magical realms cannot survive out of their home territory, with the exception of the people from the Solaria realm.
The Inn at Havenfall is considered a safe haven for people from all the realms as it is considered to be a neutral territory that hosts the annual peace summit.
Years ago, the people from the Solaria realm were banned for some mysterious reasons.
I appreciated this part of the book a lot because I had a working knowledge about all the worlds even before I began reading the actual story, and it made my personal reading experience more pleasant.
Cute Mentions or References to Popular Knowledge from our Favourite Fantasy Books
I am a fangirl, and I cannot help but warm up to people who have read the books I adore, so I give brownie points to Sara Holland for making certain references from various fantasy books.
Fiordenkill is described to be something like Narnia, a certain type of magic is compared to Horcruxes. There are mentions of magic lamps, and jokes about sparkling vampires.
Call me silly, but they felt like secret notes from one fantasy reader to another.
The Solarians, who are people from Solaria are one hell of a fascinating race.
They kept me curious throughout the whole book, their location, their characteristics, and their magic, everything about them is interesting.
I will go as far as to say that if I read the next book in the Havenfall series, then it will surely be because I want to know more about these people.
The Mysterious Beauty of the Inn at Havenfall
It’s gorgeous, the setting of the Inn.
It’s described so well at the beginning that visuals formed around me like magic.
The strange mystery about Havenfall town is also quite appealing, but I regret that it is just explored at such a shallow level in this book.
Perhaps the next book in the series will reveal more about the Havenfall town.
What puts me off the Havenfall book 1 by Sara Holland?
Boring and Bland Characters
It makes me sad that not even a single person from the book stands out and stays in my thoughts for long after I finished reading this book.
I may know their names because I read the book recently, but none of them were relatable or endearing for me.
The author has made all the main players of the book belong to the queer community and I appreciate it.
Some of my most loved characters, characters I would tear out the world for, are queer. (I am looking at you, Nico Di Angelo.)
But a less commonly represented sexual orientation does not stand as a substitute for personality traits.
Taya is the only character who comes off as slightly better written among them all, and no, she isn’t the protagonist.
I cannot root for the Main Character
Yes, this girl has it tough.
Her mother is in jail, sentenced to death for murdering her brother.
She is bullied in the real world and the Havenfall Inn is her solace, her home.
But I simply failed to feel anything for her. No hate, no love, nothing.
She is just there, doing nothing for me.
I also don’t understand why she wants to stay in the Inn.
Despite spending 17 summers in the Havenfall Inn she lacks any essential knowledge about it but wants to inherit it.
I would have loved if she had invested more of her energies in getting to know most of the big and small things about the Inn and its function for the other realms if she had any real ambition to inherit it someday.
Lack of Impactful Consequences
I don’t know what happens if our main lead cannot handle the Havenfall inn.
And I don’t feel connected to her or the Havenfall Inn to really care.
Why is it important that our protagonist saves the Havenfall Inn, and maintains peace?
Apparently, nothing, unless I decide to read the next book in the Havenfall book series.
My Final Thoughts about Havenfall book 1 by Sara Holland
I admire Sara Holland for the world-building, all the realms and their features have a definite appeal but the characters just don’t work for me.
I know magic can catch people’s attention, but I guess it is the people and their stories that make us feels connected to the fantasy books that we cherish, adore and share.
Probably the Havenfall book 2, Phoenix Flame will answer many questions and tie in the loose ends.
But there’s a fat chance that I will read Phoenix Flame anytime soon.
Hoping my next read of 2021 turns out to be better.