Book Review: Song of Ink and Phoenix by Margherita Scialla
When she finally finished the manuscript for Crimson Mayhem, she did what any writer would: gave it to her best friend to read. Her friend’s reaction, however, wasn’t what she had expected and, upset by her criticism, Nadzia left her at the café where they had met.
Waking up the next morning, Nadzia was no longer in her bedroom, finding herself in a world of her creation, surrounded by dangerous magic and vaguely familiar settings.
With a country at war and no clear way home, time is running out and Nadzia has to find a way to gain the trust of the very people she created and figure out her confusing feelings for two of her own characters.
She soon realizes stories aren’t perfect when there is no one left to write them.
I would consider this book a light and enjoyable read. The trope of characters waking up in new worlds is an easy plot to get sucked into, and in this case, we have a writer who finds herself in the world from her own fantasy book. It creates an interesting dynamic.
Nadzia is a young author who writes a fantasy book only to find herself waking up inside her own creation. She is confused and even scared as she realizes that she is a human in a magical world, leaving her very vulnerable. However, initially, she comes across as a cocky know-it-all as she toys with her own characters with the knowledge she has on them. She belittles King Lucjan and provokes Hedyah purposely to see if she is as fierce as she wrote her to be. While she blames Lucjan for treating her poorly when he imprisons her, she wasn’t so nice to him or the other characters on arrival. After she accepts that she is stuck in this world whether she likes it or not, she begins to realize her vulnerability and that she needs them in order to survive. Suddenly, events start occurring out of order, leaving her dumbfounded. Worst, she realizes that a war is approaching, and she has no powers or fighting skill. That’s when she turns to survival.
I think the author did well in adding elements to complicate the plot. Even though Nadzia wrote about her characters and this world, the characters and plot events are no longer within her control. Since she enters the story, the story changes. The characters are not the same as she originally created them, and the events start occurring very differently. I liked this dynamic because it humbles Nadzia as she learns that her knowledge of events is now highly limited. Before, she arrives rather arrogant and does not seem to see her characters as their own people but as objects of her creation. Also, she did not write the details of all the places in her fictional land, which leaves her clueless there, too. I feel that this helps Nadzia and readers see the characters as real people and that Nadzia is not just merely having a dream. It also requires Nadzia to engage in the war because she is now vulnerable just like the other characters.
There is some romance woven into the narrative with Kagan and Xayvion. However, I feel that this part of the plot needed more growth. I love the idea of polyamory, but I was confused about the relationship between Xayvion and Kagan that would exist in this dynamic. Prior to visiting Kagan, the elves were enemies. Thus, I was unclear about the reasons that these two characters were open to this relationship, so I would have liked to see that part develop more. There is a lot of great representation in the book. There are different sexualities present and even a deaf character. The diversity in the book is definitely a plus.
I know that the novel follows Nadia’s POV, but I would have liked to learn more about the villains. I was highly intrigued with Cael’s character. I am a little bias here because I love villains in stories. They are my favorite characters. Also, the book felt rushed in parts, especially the ending. I am okay with the way it ended, but it felt extremely abrupt. Perhaps it could have been slowed a little to provide more closure. I understand that it is meant to be a cliff hanger, but I am unsure if it was well-executed.
Overall, it’s a fun book and makes a relaxing read. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.