Finding The Phoenix is the first book in The Celestial Talisman series, which is a dark adult (urban) fantasy series. I did not know it was an adult series, but I think it is a good read for YA fans as well.
Finding The Phoenix by Caitlin O’Conner
Heaven has no memory of dying, except the experience of death itself. It’s that memory, of a place called ‘The Between’, that convinces her the man claiming to be her Guardian might not be crazy. Besides, even crazy is better than the life she’s leaving behind to be the Circle’s Wielder of Spirit. All she has to worry about now is her training, and figuring out how to fit in with the Awakened.
But the Circle isn’t the haven she thought it might be. The fanatic Handmaidens of the Skaath Diurga are gathering strength and only the Awakened can keep the shadow creatures at bay. When one of the Guardians is killed, ulterior motives thrust Heaven into the middle of the Circle’s quest for justice. She’ll have to decide just how far she’ll go for the people she’s come to care about.
The story starts with our main character, who goes by many names in this book, waking up in the morgue. Her past is dark and complex and she is confused about where she now ended up. The guy she finds when she wakes up tells mysterious tales of dark forces, magical orders, and battles. In this story, we meet several characters, and I really liked every single one of them. They were all complex, flawed, had backgrounds that haunted them and their interactions were a joy to read.
“I assure you, we’re the good guys.”
“There aren’t any good guys, just better or worse guys.”
The character development was really well done. The main character Heaven is very closed off at the beginning and is afraid of many things, during the book, however, she starts to open up to people and you can see how near the end she starts to shine.
“I don’t know what to make of you sometimes,” he told her in a low voice.
“It’s simple,” she smiles. “I’m messed up.”
It is quite mysterious and dark, and to be honest the worldbuilding just didn’t work for me. After reading about half the book, I took a break (because I got really into another book I was reading at the moment) but when I got back I had forgotten all about how the world worked and what everything meant. The basics were clear to me, but beside that, I really don’t know. I don’t think I’m one to judge because I really didn’t understand it. There were many names and references and it was hard to keep up.
The diversity was really interesting as well. In the beginning, we see Heaven struggle with anxiety and her abusive past. The book also covers topics such as loss. The book is set in South Africa, and though it did not play a major role in the book, it was really interesting to read about.
Overall, I am giving this book 3 stars, because though I loved the characters and the development, the world building really didn’t do it for me. Probably, if I had read this at another time, I might have loved it a lot more. I would definitely recommend this book if you’re interested in trying to read more adult fantasy, since this book really bridges between YA and adult fantasy. I can definitely see why other people enjoyed this book a lot more than I did, but I just think it might not have been for me.