Ashes of the Firebird (Amy Kuivalainen)

Ashes of the Firebird is the second novel in the Firebird Faerie Tales series by Amy Kuivalainen.
Finished on: 27.6.2022
[Here’s my review of the first novel.]
[I won this book in a LibraryThing Early Reviewer give-away.]

After recent events, Anya and her allies are regrouping in Budapest. Anya herself is unconscious, as her spirit is trapped in the Land of Dreaming with her grandmother Yanka, and unable to find its way back to its body. As her friends try everything to get her back, things around them start to look more and more like a war is coming – a war that could potentially involve the entire supernatural world.

Ashes of the Firebird was a good read that drew me right back into this rather sprawling world, even though I didn’t quite remember all the things about the earlier novel. While there are still some things for me to criticize, I definitely liked more about it than I didn’t like. I’m glad I continued reading the series.

The book cover showing a stylized silver bird on a dark gray background.

The biggest stumbling point for me while reading this book was that my memory for characters (and people in general) is just really, really bad. And Ashes of the Firebird has a rather big cast of characters. I would have liked a quick two lines per character summary at the beginning, just to get back into it. But in any case, I caught up with it and it didn’t hamper me too much, I think.

I did think it was kind of funny that pretty much everybody in the novel is coupled up by the end (and those who were already coupled up, basically got together during the first novel), and all of them in hetero relationships (with, I don’t know 5 or 6 couples, the absence of queer couples makes itself felt). There are a few free-floating men who mostly seem to gravitate around Anya, all hoping to get into her pants with more or less romantic feelings attached. This has a Mary-Sue-ish touch (reminiscent of Anita Blake, but without the polyamory so far) that might be annoying to some people. I found it rather entertaining, especially because there is a hint of self-awareness here about this constellation. Plus, I quite liked the couples that got together here.

In any case, the book does away with the love triangle in a rather surprising, but (on my side) not unappreciated turn of events. (The drawn-out end did annoy me a little bit, but mostly because I wasn’t too sold on the relationship to begin with.) Although I do fear that it may just open a new triangle in the next book. There are just too many players here. We’ll just have to wait and see.

The world-building is certainly big, incorporating many different types of magic and cultural ideas. Basically, each character gets their own thing, and as I said, there are quite a few characters. It makes for a rich tapestry that I liked, even when it may be a little confusing.

The plot gets maybe a little lost amid the many characters, but I can’t say that I minded that too much. In fact, I was more interested in the characters anyway. So much so, that when the plot takes center stage at the end and tries to surprize with a twist, I was a little annoyed (also because one part of the twist didn’t suprise and the other felt unnecessary). But I’ll be certainly here for the next installment to figure out how things continue. Only that I’ll maybe do a re-read of the first and second part before reading the third to get a better grasp on the characters.

Summarizing: an entertaining read for sure.

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