Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Review: Curse of the Phoenix by Aimée Carter

I have been meaning to read this book for a few months now. But then I got into the biggest reading slump I have ever had, and simply did not manage to get started. Until now. And oh, how happy I am that this was the book I chose to read after so long without reading. Because this book was truly perfection.

I have been a fan of Aimée for so many years now. And I own pretty much all of her books, I think. And yet this is still the first book of hers that I have actually read. What. I'm the worst, ha. But I'm also so glad to have started with this one. As I loved it so much. And now I'm ready to finally read all her other books.

I will begin by saying that I very much loved the writing in this book. It was so easy to get lost in and I fully adored all of the characters. The book is told from the point of view of Zac and Lu, twelve-year-old twins living with their dad. Their mom died just a month ago, changing their entire lives. And their dad is having trouble taking care of them, so he has agreed to send them to an unknown family member of their mom's, all the way in England. Neither of them want to go, but they have zero choice. And the story truly begins when they arrive at this new place, meeting family they never even knew existed. I loved that the family wasn't too big, though. Only five new people to meet. Which was awesome, and they were all great to get to know.

But what I loved most about this book was Zac and Lu, and getting to know them both. Lu has been helping and feeding outdoor cats for a long time with her best friend. She loves to take care of animals. And she also has such a huge heart. I loved her so. But I must admit to having loved Zac a little more. Oops. Because he was so sensitive and broken and brave and I adored him to pieces. He has lived his entire life locked up in their house, almost. Because of being allergic to pretty much every single thing.

And so he spent so much time at hospitals with their mom. And all the other time at home, not being able to go out, not being able to go to school or visit anyone. Anything could kill him. And his asthma was bad too. And it was completely heartbreaking to read about. This boy was so precious and my heart ached for him. But he was also so sweet and he tried his very best. The twins were the best of friends during their first five years of life. Until she went to school, and he could not. Aw. They started drifting apart after that.

And it completely broke my heart to read about all of it. Okay, this book was pretty short and a fast read. So there could have been much more details. But I loved what there was. And it was enough to ruin my heart a little, to be honest. Zac and Lu lived together, but were barely together at all. Until they got sent away. And actually started spending some time together. And oh, how badly I loved that. I loved how they started to bond. To care more for each other again. And I loved most how they each protected the other.

Their sibling relationship was truly the sweetest thing. But this book was not just about that. Though them learning to bond with each other again was a huge part of this book. It was also about the magic of the Wildewoods. Which they always thought were just fantasy stories their mom had told them while growing up. Until they arrived with their family in England. And learned just what the real Wildewoods was. And I loved that so much. It was a protected space on their property. A secret place that no one else could find.

A place that their family had been made to protect for such a long time. Though, truly, it was actually a curse. Learning about that was pretty fun too. Okay, kind of heartbreaking, but I loved it. The Wildewoods was fully of mythical creatures. Dragons and unicorns. The last living phoenix. And a whole bunch of other creepy and scary things. I loved reading about all the creatures the most, I think. It was so much fun. The scene with the mermaids was awful yet so good too. Sigh. I loved learning about the animals.

There isn't truly that much happening in this book. I wish it had been longer. I wish it was a whole series, as I would so love to read more about everything. Though, with the ending, there does not need to be more. But I want it even so. This was a book about the siblings learning to love each other again. About them learning about a magical place and creatures they had never known were real. It was a little about them getting to know their family too, which I liked. It was a lot about grief as well. So sad but so good.

Curse of the Phoenix was everything that I had hoped it would be. It was such a magical middle grade story. Stunning writing and the most amazing characters. It was full of heart and full of sorrow. And so very cute. Zac and Lu were both incredible and I loved them so very much. Sigh. I loved how badly she wanted to keep him safe, when pretty much anything could kill him. I loved reading about his different allergies. It was sad, but so exciting too. He was just the best. I loved the story of the phoenix so much.

I may have written too much about this book already. Oops. It really wasn't such a long story to read, but I cared so much for it. And there was still a whole lot to learn. I loved when they visited the woods. Despite how everything was trying to kill them, ha. There was sort of a villain in this book too. It could have been darker, but I liked this story the way that it was too. So good. I would so love to read more from this world. And I am so glad that I read this book. I think you will all love it too, so get to reading. It was so precious.

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