Hunt for the Phoenix by Emma & Christopher Byford – Book Reivew

I came across this book through Twitter. But before I knew it, It had stolen my heart and I couldn’t stop reading until the last page.

[Scroll down to the bottom of my review to read added comments by my friend Ross Phillips.] 

Summary courtesy of AmazonA tale of redemption and duty – Mana Seraph is host to the Spirit of the Phoenix; a creature entwined within her being that is far from human understanding. 

This ghastly process was carried out by the tyrannical Empire of Fusion. However, Mana was not fused with the entire Spirit as a daring escape interrupted the procedure. Offered sanctuary in the forests of Pheo, by a tribe who worship the Phoenix, their survival is now synonymous with her own. 

Fusion retaliates by giving their General, Qwuiff Lavation, the means to hunt her down across the lands of Airone. Soon, Qwuiff starts eradicating any nation who stands in their way, not just for the Empire but for his own glory as well. 

Protected by the Pheo Tribe and her vigilant Guardians, Mana is bound to the servitude of the people. Hidden in the treetops somewhere on Airone, the tribal village had done well to elude those searching for it. 

It isn’t until a failed kidnapping on Pheo brings the entire situation into focus. Blooded and broken, a mercenary employed by Fusion is captured. He reveals himself as Dark, an Angel, once sword of the Holy Sorceress and fallen far from his heavenly duty. Shocked at the depth of corruption by Fusion, Mana encourages Dark to redeem himself and serve by her side as a Guardian to fight against the Empire once and for all.

Reluctantly accepting this proposition, Dark embarks on a path of redemption. This will not only position him against the Fusion Empire but will also inch Mana further towards an uncertain future. 

This is the first book in the Fusion Series which I stumbled across via Twitter when I followed one of the authors and was enticed to download it. Whilst on a long train journey to Plymouth I decided to pick it up and give it ago. The only reason I knew the journey was long because I woke up out of a dream world when I arrived at my station and noticed five hours has passed. The characters Dark and Mana along with the rest of the Pheo tribe had stolen my heart and drew me into their world. I couldn’t quite put my finger on where it sat between pure fictional time and place and reality, but the very nature of fallen angels and spirit host fitted right into my genre at the start.

Mana & Dark as illustrated by Kathleen Dent

This book is co-authored by Emma & Chris Byford, and I learnt whilst reading the Byford’s blog about The Fusion Series that the character of Mana is the literary child of Emma, whilst the character of Dark has been developed over time by Chris. This creates a unique and interesting reading experience that is truly great to read. The mysterious past of Dark twinned with the growing relationships between the main characters is made better only by a gripping narrative that left me wanting more. Mana’s struggle with the spirit of the Phoenix within her reminds me of all the best bits I loved from The Host, whilst being infinitely better.

The differing writing styles of both the authors also works very well with the juxtaposition between violent battle scenes and tender moments between father and daughter working really well. Having said this, there does appear to be some unnecessary characters, namely Wyld that I can only assume will hold larger parts in the next books.
The narrative which is at times can be very serious does not lack some humour, my all time favourite quote from the book having to be: “Look at him. So uptight I bet you could break walnuts between his ass cheeks”! Love it!
Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was one that I read at every opportunity (with one comical moment at breakfast nearly leaving a bite mark out of my Kindle as it was confused with toast) and I think that it can only mean one thing:
5/5

You can download this book to your Kindle here currently just £2.56 – a good price for a great read. I just picked up a copy of the Dark Entity short stories also from the Fusion Series, so check back for a review on these soon!

Thanks as always for reading,
Love Rie x

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
After sharing this review and recommending it to a my friend Ross, a fellow book worm, he devoured it whole in one night! He has very kindly offered to share a his thoughts on the book, as a male reader and from a different perspective. This does contain a mild spoiler, but nothing that will ruin the book!

I know this book was written by 2 different authors, at first I thought that you would have Christopher Byford witing the parts from the male perspective and Emma Byford doing the female parts but I dont think this is the case as its a book which is clearly in two halves.

The first half I REALLY enjoyed, the war between the alliance of smaller nations againts the all consuming, technologically advanced, militaristic empire of fusion was mostly a background to the relationship of almost mutual dependence of the lead two characters, with Dark seeing Mana as some sort of opportunaity for redemption (although he doesn’t quite know how) and Mana seeing Dark as a slice of freedom in her ‘bird cage’ world.  

In stark contrast the second half seems to bear very little resemblance to the first half, with the plot separating into a (not fantasticly well done) war story and the political inner workings of the Fusion empire whenever the story flits back to Mana. There also seems to come a number of inconsistencies, huge plot holes and places where I just cannot understand the reasoning behind what some characters do/dont do. 


Also the introduction of some of the ‘new’ characters was almost completly unnecessary (namely Wyld and Leylan). 


. . . and im still not really convinced by the ending . . .  


So there we are, if I had to rate it id give it a 6/10 

I wish I could share more of Ross & I’s discussion around this book, however there is far to many spoilers that I have already had to edit out so not to spoil it for the rest of you. I think you will all agree that Ross is a fantastic writer, and has put my book rambles to shame! I hope to be inviting him to do a few more book reviews in the future and you will give him warm welcome.

Thanks for reading, again,

Rie & Ross x


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