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

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


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?


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!

The Saltwater Heir – Cassidy Clarke [ARC Review]


Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️


Princess Soren of Nyx is no stranger to loss after a decade-long war with the neighboring kingdom of Atlas. But with her best friend slowly succumbing to a cruel Atlas poison, she hatches a reckless plan: kidnap the enemy prince from the battlefield and use his life to barter for the antidote.

But when that prince calls her by a different name…the name of his sister, whose death began the war ten years ago…everything changes.

Stolen away to Atlas, trapped behind enemy lines, Soren must navigate a kingdom she knows nothing about, surrounded by a family she doesn’t remember, and work to hunt down the antidote only Atlas possesses, all while strange memories fight to take over-memories of a different life, a different home, a different girl.

And memories aren’t the only thing awakened by Soren’s return. Dark, forbidden magics begin to stir, threatening both her new life and her old. With death stalking in every shadow, the lost princess must fight harder and sacrifice more than she ever dreamed to save what she holds most dear.


Huge thank you to Sapphire Ink Press and Cassidy Clarke for providing this eARC in exchange for my honest review!

When I first heard about The Saltwater Heir through Sapphire Ink Press I was instantly intrigued by the synopsis. I signed up for the cover reveal and was then blown away by this S T U N N I N G cover. With that cover + synopsis I knew I absolutely had to read The Saltwater Heir!!

The Saltwater Heir is Cassidy Clarke’s debut novel and it is phenomenal! This book is magical, unique, and totally captivating. This was just the fantasy refresher I needed. A lot of YA fantasy feels the same these days, but TSH blew me away. The writing is stunning and the world building is so well done. The Saltwater Heir is NA fantasy but so much more . . . there’s mystery, romance, and familial bonds. All set in an epic world that is full of magic and lore!

The Saltwater Heir tells the story of Soren, the princess of Nyx. Through a series of events, Soren discovers that she is actually the long thought dead princess from the rival kingdom, Atlas. Soren must deal with her new identity and the life she knew, plus get to know a whole new family and kingdom all while trying to save her best friend. Soren’s memories slowly awaken, but dark magic also begins to stir in Atlas.

The Saltwater Heir is told through multiple points of view . . . Soren/Soriel, Elias, Kallias, and Finn. Sometimes too many POVs can be distracting and pull the reader away from the story, but this was absolutely not the case here. There was absolutely no break in the flow. Each POV added so much to the story and allowed me to get to know the characters so much more! Each POV offered a different perspective to the events happening in the palace which really elevated the story. My favorite POV is definitely Finn. He’s also my favorite character. I saw a review that described Finn as Nikolai Lanstov meets Loki and this is so perfect. Finn is so loveable and witty. I looked forward to every scene that involved him.

I also really enjoyed Soren/Soriel’s POV and character. I especially love her relationship with Finn. The Atlas siblings are all fantastic and I love the dynamic between them, but there’s just something extra special about Finn and Soren/Soriel. I definitely have fallen the Atlas siblings!

The Saltwater Heir also features a mix of present day with flashbacks and memories. I really liked how Clarke wove in these memories into the story so seamlessly. A huge part of TSH is Soren’s journey to discover her identity and come to terms with her past and present. She has to find a way to love and accept both parts of herself . . . the Nyxian raised with the Atlas born. I loved going on this journey with her and I truly felt like I was there. I really felt like I was with all the characters . . . Finn as he explores the city streets, Kallias as he struggles with his duties, Elias as he comes to term with his fate. Every single character’s arc and journey is vital to the story!

Really quick before I wrap things up, I have to touch on the world-building and imagery. This world is beautiful! Atlas, with its beaches and festivals was especially gorgeous. I could totally picture everything as it happened. I definitely want to visit! Which brings me to the downright creepy part of The Saltwater Heir . . . necromancy! Clarke did a brilliant job writing the scenes with the army of the dead. She depicted it so well that I was totally creeped out! Especially a certain scene in Soren’s room! I am so impressed with Clarke’s world building and ability to create such strong imagery!

The last part of The Saltwater Heir tore my heart out and put me through an emotional rollercoaster. I truly did not see the twists coming. I figured out a small part of the big reveal, but I had no idea the extent of it. My jaw kept dropping with each twist! Even though it hurt, the ending was totally epic. And the cliffhanger has me dying for the sequel!

As you can probably tell I LOVED this book! The Saltwater Heir is a fantastic debut (seriously I’m so impressed with Cassidy Clarke!) that is a refreshing YA fantasy full of magic, twists, and incredible characters. I highly recommend this book!