Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto is the first in a series set in a world where airborne warriors known as Phoenix Riders were legendary—until that world is ripped apart by two queens. The story is set 16 years after the war when protagonist Veronyka searches for any hints of the Riders she’s heard of in stories, and decides to disguise herself as a boy after being turned away by the commander of the Phoenix Riders for being a girl.
Preto’s debut novel starts with an information dump in the first few chapters to set up the story and introduce readers to the different characters: Veronyka, Sev and Tristan. It can be overwhelming for those who want a good balance between world building, plot and character development, and isn’t something I normally enjoy reading. However, I have no regrets for sticking through the buckets of information to get to the best parts of the story. While some plot points were predictable for me as an avid fantasy reader, I loved the relationships developed between the characters and the involvement of phoenixes in the world.
Crown of Feathers is a beautifully written debut with phoenixes and warrior queens, perfect for those who want a story where a girl dresses as a boy to chase her aspirations.