I read in some other Goodreads reviews that this book was too similar to Daughter of Smoke & Bone. Obviously the publisher knows that they have some commonalities since they reference it in the blurb…’if you liked that you’ll love this’ type of deal.
Luckily I’m the kind of pessimist that thinks there’s no original ideas left (I mean, Harry Potter existed before Harry Potter) so the similarities didn’t bother me. I still thought this was a good story with enough differences that I enjoyed reading it.
So Echo is a little kid living in a library (she loves books, I’ve yet to read a character recently who doesn’t love books. I mean, we all love books that’s why we’re reading them. Let’s have a character that’s illiterate please) when she meets a strange bird-lady named who’s a seer. The Ala kind of adopts her—(but not enough that she doesn’t still live in the library and have to steal from everyone to eat…) and introduces her into the magic world of underground bird people. Sounds ridiculous but Grey manages to make the Avicen sound sexy and cool which is not easy when you’re basically describing Big Bird.
Fast-forward about ten years and Echo steals a gift for the Ala’s bday. The Avicen have been at war with the Drakharin (dragon people, of course) for hundreds of years, and there is a legend that only a Firebird can end the war. Fortuitously, the music box Echo gifts the Ala contains a map and a poem that hints at finding the Firebird. Cue adventure time.
Echo hasn’t gotten very far in her quest for clues before she’s captured by a Drakharin (the Dragon Prince himself actually but she doesn’t know that). Through a serious of unfortunate events she ends up teaming up with him, his best friend/unrequited lover, Echo’s best bird friend, and a gay peacock. And it all manages to sound believable and engaging despite the craziness of that last sentence.
So, yes, it is REALLY similar to Daughter of Smoke & Bone, I mean, we’ve got a human that hangs out with magical people, a quest to end a hundred years+ war, an impossible love story, a girl who discovers she’s reincarnated, etc. etc. I found the ‘twist’ a little predictable, I think the author could have pulled back a bit in her foreshadowing to make it more of a surprise, but I’ll definitely be picking up the rest of the series when it’s available.