The Phoenix Priest (The Blood & Water Saga, #2) – Cassidy Clarke [ARC Review]

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Synopsis:

Elias Loch has nothing left to believe in.

After the loss of his battlemate, all he wants is to go home to Nyx and lose himself to grief. But when the Goddess of Death summons him to Artem, a kingdom of fire and steel, he finds himself plunged into a series of trials to earn him and his princely companion an audience with Artem’s Empress—trials that will force him to confront what it truly means to have faith in his goddess…and himself.

Finnick Atlas is playing a game against the gods, and he’s used up all his cheats.

Burdened by his new title and the two gods walking his halls, he needs to be at the top of his game to keep control over his kingdom. But with a maddening magic threatening to steal what’s left of his sanity, a goddess puppeting his little sister’s body for nefarious ends, and an arranged marriage with the Queen of Lapis looming on the horizon, he’s running out of sleeves to slip aces into. Luckily, a new friend from the Lapisian delegation may just be the key to winning all his games…if he can trick a worshipper of the Trickster Goddess.

Soren Nyx can’t seem to die.

Trapped inside her own body, she has only one goal left: to keep Anima, Goddess of Life, from seeing into her memories and finding her family’s weaknesses. But retreating into the depths of her own mind has unintended consequences, and with the help of an old friend, Soren must navigate the lost memories of her childhood as Soleil, all with one question in mind: will she finally give in to the death that’s been chasing her since girlhood, or will she rise again as someone new?

Review:

This review will contain minor spoilers from The Saltwater Heir.

Huge thank you to Cassidy Clarke and the team at Sapphire Ink Press for sharing this e-arc with me! The following review reflects my honest reading experience.

I cannot express to you how excited I was to receive an advanced copy of The Phoenix Priest! The Saltwater Heir was one of my top reads from last year. It’s also an all-time favorite read. The Saltwater Heir ended with so many twists and such a major cliffhanger that I could not wait to get my hands on the sequel. I’m so happy to say that The Phoenix Priest was an excellent follow-up! Cassidy Clarke has done it again!

The Phoenix Priest picks up right where The Saltwater Heir left off. Elias and Kallias are off to Nyx, Finn remains in the palace, and Soren is currently sharing her body with the goddess Anima. The story is told through these multiple points of view and it is so well done. Each POV really added depth, growth, and perspective to the story and the characters. For example, I really wanted to just blindly hate Anima. However, the author did an excellent job of using her chapters to paint a bigger picture and actually make me feel for her. She’s still not my favorite character, but I definitely understand her more. And speaking of Anima . . . there is much more interaction with the gods in The Phoenix Priest! It was so cool to learn more about them and their powers. I can’t wait to find out even more as the series goes on!

My favorite part of this series is the relationships between the characters. This is done a bit differently this time because the Atlas siblings are scattered throughout the world. I did not really care too much for Kallias in the first book, but man did The Phoenix Priest change my opinion of him. I totally love Kallias, and his friendship with Elias was one of my favorite parts of this book. I loved watching their friendship grow! These two men go on quite the journey, both physical and mental, together. Elias especially is dealing with his unimaginable grief and a deep depression. I thought that the author did a great job of writing Elias and his despair. Mental health can easily be used as just a plot point or an attention grabber, but Cassidy Clarke incorporated it into the story beautifully.

Finn stole my heart in The Saltwater Heir and he still hasn’t let it go! My sarcastic, fun-loving prince is a bit broken in this book. He is processing his grief and trauma all while dealing with the pressures of being a royal plus insane gods and goddesses. Finn still has his wit and cleverness, but he is much more vulnerable and fragile this time around. This book added more depth to all the characters, but especially Finn. I feel like we are just starting to peel away some of his masks. I just wanted to jump into the pages and give him the biggest hug! And he really needs a hug because his journey in The Phoenix Priest is a rollercoaster.

If you read my review of The Saltwater Heir you know that I love this world that Clarke has crafted. This gorgeous and creative world expands in The Phoenix Priest and we get to discover and learn about so many new places! I found the mountain city in Artem so fascinating, and I was in awe of the Mirrors from Lapis! It looks like we are going to explore even more of this awesome world in the next book and I am so excited!

Now, I bet you’re wondering why I did not give The Phoenix Priest five stars. I absolutely loved it, but the first third-halfish of this book was slow. It took me a bit to really get into the story. However, once it got going I was totally hooked.

The Phoenix Priest ends with another great cliffhanger. It’s not nearly as shocking as The Saltwater Heir, but it is super impactful. This ending really sets up the next story. Our characters are once again scattered and they all have quite the journey ahead. I cannot wait to find out what happens next in book three!

The Phoenix Priest was released April 22nd, 2022.

PS: This awesome series is available on Kindle Unlimited!

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