Sara Holland’s Havenfall doesn’t quite live up to potential

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Havenfall Sara HollandHAVENFALL, by Sara Holland , Bloomsbury YA, March 3, 2020, Hardcover, $18.99 (young adult)

A girl does all she can to protect a safe haven between four magical realms in Sara Holland’s Havenfall.

There’s more to Colorado’s mountains than just skiing. Hidden deep in the mountains is Havenfall, a sanctuary that connects ancient worlds. The inn is a place where people from those worlds can safely interact for a time before returning to each of their unique lands. It’s a place of peace, and any who disrupt it won’t be allowed back.

Maddie Morrow is one of the few humans that know of Havenfall’s existence. Every summer she travels there to help her uncle, the Innkeeper, and experience the magic.

Havenfall is Maddie’s escape. Escape from the world where her brother was murdered. Escape from the world where her mother sits on death row accused of murdering him. It is the place where Maddie fell in love with Fiorden soldier Brekken. And it’s where one day she hopes to inherit the role of Innkeeper.

The sense of awe and wonder Maddie always feels at Havenfall is thrown out the window when a dead body is found. Soon after, Brekken goes missing and Maddie’s uncle is gravely wounded. Suddenly, Maddie finds herself taking on the role of Innkeeper. She is responsible for everyone’s safety, but there’s a monster on the loose, and dark secrets abound. Maddie’s dream job is quickly becoming a nightmare.

Havenfall has left me feeling a bit wishy-washy. On the one hand, Sara Holland’s premise is sound. The book has a solid structure, and characters that should be enticing. But I finished the book feeling more meh than anything.

This is the first book in a planned series, so maybe the author is holding back on purpose. There are a lot of unanswered questions here, including some character flaws. Because the book mostly takes place at the inn, it has an insular, almost claustrophobic feel to it. Again, this could be a choice to mimic the guests’ feelings as they end up on lockdown. Still, it made me antsy.

While Havenfall is a fast-paced read with a decent premise, I wanted more. I wanted to see the realms. I wanted Maddie to be more. I wanted Brekken to be more than a convenient plot twist. I’m curious to see if any of these things are addressed in the next book. But for now, I recommend this as a library read only.

© 2020, Cracking the Cover. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise noted, all books — digital and physical — have been provided for free by publishers in exchange for honest and unbiased reviews. All thoughts and opinions are those of the reviewer.

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About Author

Jessica Harrison is the main reviewer behind Cracking the Cover. Prior to creating Cracking the Cover, Jessica worked as the in-house book critic for the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in Salt Lake City. Jessica also worked as a copy editor and general features writer for the paper. Following that, Jessica spent two years with an international company as a social media specialist. She is currently a freelance writer/editor. She is passionate about reading and giving people the tools to make informed decisions in their own book choices.

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