First Lines: The bus depot in Denver smells like gasoline and asphalt, unwashed bodies and stale coffee. It’s loud with the creak and huff of buses outside, an old speaker system announcing arrival times in between bursts of static, the thud of footsteps as people run to catch their buses.
I heard a little buzz surrounding this book last year. Not much, just enough to catch my attention and make me curious about it. I couldn’t even actually say I’d seen reviews or anything, just that it was being talked about and it was showing up every now and then. So I grabbed it when I saw it at the library.
In the mountains of Colorado is a small inn that houses the entrances to multiple worlds, each with its own magic. For generations, the inn has protected those who seek refuge while banishing those who disrupt the peace. For Maddie, Havenfall is her escape from her dark reality, where her mother is on death row for the murder of Maddie’s brother. Havenfall is also where she fell in love with Brekken, a Fiorden soldier who has been her best friend for ages. It’s the place where, one day, she hopes to take over the Innkeeper role from her uncle. But nothing will be the same this summer. After a body is found, everything changes. Brekken is missing, her uncle is gravely injured, and a dangerous creature is one the loose, threatening everything Havenfall stands for. Maddie suddenly finds herself in charge of everything and everyone at Havenfall. With the help of the alluring new staffer, Taya, who also seems to know more than she should, Maddie will try to find the truth. But one thing quickly becomes clear: no one can be trusted. No one.
My first impression of this is that it’s a really ambitious story and it tried to do it all in about 300 pages. Which kind of works and kind of doesn’t.
Maddie made an interesting lead for this story, given her tragic backstory and how she tries to move past it by spending her summers at Havenfall. She’s got clear drive to be the Innkeeper in the future, yet the understanding that she’s too young right now to really know what she’s doing. Still, she tries her best to get the job done, sometimes by just surrounding herself with the right people to help her. Also, as far as representation goes, Maddie is bi. However, this is more hinted at than actually shown because romance is kind of the least of the story when there’s a magical war about to break out if she can’t figure out what’s going on.
There were also elements of the plot I thought were interesting and pulled off well. Like there are some good themes about not judging people too quickly that come up over and over in various ways. I liked that I could pull that out so many different times with different characters.
My problem with the plot, though, is that it’s a little slow to get started and then it gets kind of predictable. I was guessing in my head what was actually going on and I was usually on the right track even if I didn’t get all the details right. It just wasn’t as engrossing as I was hoping. For such short book, this took me forever to get through because I just wasn’t into it.
Oh, and I feel like I still have a lot of questions at the end of this. Things didn’t get properly wrapped up at times and I can’t tell if some of them will be wrapped up in the next book or if it’s just a plot hole.
This was fine, it just didn’t wow me. But I’ll still read the next book.