Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

Crown of Feathers (Crown of Feathers, #1)

by Nicki Pau Preto

In a world ruled by fierce warrior queens, a grand empire was built upon the backs of Phoenix Riders - legendary heroes who soared through the sky on wings of fire - until a war between two sisters ripped it all apart.

Sixteen years later, Veronyka is a war orphan who dreams of becoming a Phoenix Rider from the stories of old. After a shocking betrayal from her controlling sister, Veronyka strikes out alone to find the Riders - even if that means disguising herself as a boy to join their ranks.

Just as Veronyka finally feels like she belongs, her sister turns up and reveals a tangled web of lies between them that will change everything. And, meanwhile, the new empire has learned of the Riders' return and intends to destroy them once and for all.

Crown of Feathers is an epic fantasy about love's incredible power to save - or to destroy. Throughout is interspersed the story of Avalkyra Ashfire, the last Rider Queen, who would rather see her empire burn than fall into her sister's hands.

Reviewed by layawaydragon on

5 of 5 stars

I love the magic world building with the animages and phoenixes and queens and riders.
I love the historical documents between each chapter.
I love our revolving POVs. The switching does well to keep the tension and the itch to move forward high.
I did not expect almost everything plotwise.
Adorable scene w/ archery training between LI's.
What an ending!
I have no idea where this is headed.
And I can't wait to find out.


There is a powerful draw as a cis woman to these stories, of course and I get it.

I'm going to break from the pack here a bit and say I don't like the girl joining things disguised as boys. It's hard for me to describe, but basically, girls are not socialized the same as boys, and this simplistic 'bind your boobs to be a boy' doesn't work. It's not that simple and easy and far more fraught than just dressing alike. Jokes and mannerisms and posturing and eye contact and space and so many little things are different. Even young preteen boys and girls are different this way before the hormones kick in. We're treated differently since forever before we're born. And people can tell when you're different than what's been beaten into the bone and can smell the fear of discovery.

And when straight men fear they're falling for Sweet Polly Oliver? Things get violent. I'm all for the internet sensation of Bi Li Shang & Mulan, but I'm not going to accept new cannon where it's not out loud and proud. I'm tired and we all deserve better. Where is my bi/pan/questioning rep that we deserve?

And how does little isolated cis girl get to be so flawlessly social and blend in as a boy and win everybody over?

It doesn't seem right or fair to have these stories be so...easy and flippant to blend in. When people study and fret and are attacked everyday for not meeting the invisible "normal" that's rigorously enforced. Sissy boys and pussies and tomboys and lesbos are still targetted and us bis and pans are fodder for both ends as cheaters and fakes. So this coy "I'm disguised as a boy" act is disingenuous to the spectrum of gender and attraction and socialization and acceptance and I don't appreciate at it anymore.

And don't give me that 'fantasy world' excuse. Yes, there's been warrior queens as equals and blah blah blah. But the very people that are supposed to follow such beliefs have outlawed women in their ranks. And you're telling me they wouldn't be hazing and toxic enforcing their masculinity and superiority? BULLSHIT. They're a fucking frat house now.

Maybe I'm being too harsh in my sudden vocalization of against this trope. It does have a budding m/m couple opposite our m/w to give balance. They aren't frat boy toxic, and at least the sneak works harder to blend in with the "normies". But at the same time, it's much harder for them dancing around their push/pull attraction and if it can be done with this couple, why not do it right for the m/w? Is there a message I'm not getting? Or am I thinking too hard about it. *growls and gestures in frustration, throwing up hands*

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  • 17 November, 2018: Reviewed