Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“When the imminent battle commences, you may wonder which side will attain victory, the heroes or the opposition?”
This book was not what I thought it would be, at all! I expected one long book of fantasy, which, even though it’s not my favourite genre, I was looking forward to reading. However, I was very pleasantly surprised to discover that this book was a collection of smaller stories of varying genres, each focusing on a number of different themes, from love and loss, to anxiety, abuse and PTSD. The result? It was very well received by me! The author has a brilliant imagination and is also an incredibly talented writer. I’m excited to share my review!
C.A. Nicholas’s magnum opus symphony is about to begin and he’s reserved a seat for you. So come on in and I’ll lead you to your place of honour as the house lights dim. Yes, your spot is beside the maestro as he teleports you and he through various worlds to befriend diverse souls who’ll reveal the beauty of your life through their stories…
Book 1: Sanity’s War
Wow…just wow! C.A. Nicholas is a natural born storyteller it seems – the start of this story immediately pulled me in to a thrilling scene, and even though it took me a while to understand what was going on at first, I couldn’t help but get drawn in by the author’s captivating writing style. It was perfectly suited to the fantasy genre, even the characters themselves appeared to be moulded around the ideal fantasy character. It wasn’t long before we joined these characters on an unforgettable journey, one so dangerously uncertain, yet chilling and beautifully written. Filled with dragons, swords and an enemy you wouldn’t want to mess with, Book 1 of this series was off to a strong start!
I loved how quickly readers are brought up to speed on an imminent attack – one of our main characters, Aveline, is forced fight alongside other men and women to destroy a race of creatures that, quite frankly, sounded scary as hell! Seventeen rows of serrated teeth, sepia skin and five feet long necks made me think that I wouldn’t want to bump into one of those on a dark night. You can’t help but get drawn in to the story, and my interest was piqued as soon as I sensed these creatures. The description the author goes into is flawless; characters, monsters and scenery become so easy to visualise, and this really added to my reading experience. Even though the story is short, the author gives the reader so much to think about, and, even better, gives us chance to draw our own conclusions on the story, which I particularly enjoyed.
In contrast to the previous story, this one was a weird one for me. Sadly, I couldn’t really understand its purpose and I found it particularly difficult to get into, even after a couple of reads through. However, I couldn’t help but get drawn into the author’s poetic narration. I wish I could make more of a comment on this one, but I just couldn’t get into the story that well. (Sorry 😞)
I really liked this story – it had a sense of darkness to it which I particularly enjoyed, and it felt very mysterious. Characters Neha and Nishant appear to be kidnapped, and one of the pair is quite ill with a fever. The book touches upon something bad Neha has done in her past which may come back to haunt her. Again, I loved how the author tells the story without giving everything away, letting us use our imaginations to fill in the blanks. Neha wants to call for medical help for Nishant, but she is nervous as the pair are being held against their will, plus there is that ‘thing’ that Neha has done which could put her in some trouble. In just a few pages, I thought the author had nailed this story.
I liked the relationship between these two characters – it was clear they both meant an awful lot to each other which was very heartwarming. Neha does everything she can to make Nishant comfortable through his illness, but things don’t work out as she hoped. The story ended with sadness, and it really had an effect on me, even though the story was so short! I have to congratulate the author of making a reader feel this way in such as short space of time. A very emotional, heart wrenching story that makes you think about life in a whole new way.
A War For A Dream
This story had some real stunning imagery in its words! It was very easy to visualise and was filled with love and memories, even an unexpected creature had an appearance. Two particular characters in this story, Farrah and Mahli were filled with love for one another, and the way the pair interacted with one another was so beautiful to read. Farrah convinces Mahli to share a story with her that hasn’t been told before, yet it seems to be so crucial in their relationship. The fantasy elements in this story were clear, and it made for very pleasant reading. However, everything was not as it seemed on the surface.
Mahli experiences something I can only describe as an out of body experience, yet it also seemed to be real life in this world, which was really haunting. The creature he finds himself face to face with offers to transfer his happiness, love and memories back to him, something which I thought was such a unique path to go down in the story. The story takes a dark turn as the creature wipes out the city, forcing a now brainwashed Mahli to get used to a new normal. There was so much going on in this story, but I enjoyed the journey nevertheless. It was so chilling and saddening once more, and I really thought the author has found his niche here! The story also includes an immense battle, showing the creature’s taunting and power at a larger scale. Very intense reading!
This story in the collection was so tragic, but was sprinkled with a bit of humour which put a nice spin on things. We travel from present time to the different memories of a main character, Ray, and it was so uplifting to feel every emotion so deeply. The author has done it yet again, using impeccable description to really capture thoughts and feelings. The bond that the group of friends had in this story was something special, and it felt such an honour to share this journey with them. Ray starts to see visions of what could be, some dark, some joyful, and some that are simply memories he never wants to lose.
The memories we’re drawn into from this character are so vivid, and at times, I forgot were were learning of a memory instead of new story of its own. It was easy to get drawn into these memories and lose yourself in the words, which seems a very common theme with this author’s work. We can really feel the love, happiness and sadness concealed inside the memories in this story, and I think we can learn a lot from them about the life we live and how we perceive it. Without expecting it, we’re reunited with another character from a previous story which I LOVED! I think I actually gave a little squeal when I realised these stories were linked in some way – this definitely earned the author some extra points from me! This story was flawlessly done, and I couldn’t fault it in any way.
The note before this story started read, “Dedicated to all who feel overwhelmed and alone in their struggles, regardless of what those struggles are,” and this really reflected the story I was about to read. This story was written a little differently to the others – it seemed to be a in a sort of script style, where the characters are having a constant conversation. I really liked this – I felt like the conversation was much more involving with each character having their own focus. The characters in this story obviously had their own issues and were working out different ways to overcome them. It was filled with love and hope; another common theme in the author’s collection.
The messages in this story were so clear and deep. This mixed with the author’s exceptional writing style created an unforgettable tale. The characters were so memorable because of their words and the way they communicated with one another was something that I wouldn’t forget in a hurry. I felt a certain degree of sadness and sympathy as I read through, and it does tug at those heart strings for a while, but this one was by far one of my favourites in the collection.
Book 2: Strange
Book two consisted of some longer stories with multiple chapters. I was looking forward to reading these and seeing how they compared with the shorter stories of book one. This particular story began by describing the way the main character, Jackson, accidentally fell to a near death. Even though reading this was saddening and depressing, it was so descriptive, and I loved the way the author was able to capture me so much in just a few words. Very admirable! From thoughts and feelings to physical pain, everything is feels so real and easy to envisage.
However, as the story moves on, we slowly begin to get different feelings towards Jackson. There was something evil about him and the story quickly became dark. His feelings of wanting to kill only got stronger, until we see him wake up from what seems like an awful nightmare. The story does get a little confusing in parts, especially when trying to decipher reality from visions, but the majority of it really held my attention and made me ask a lot of curious questions; something I do really admire within a book.
This was a shorter, more meaningful story within this book, which only lasted a few pages. A very delicate diary entry from a someone who has lost someone else along the way, longing to be reunited. As short as it was, it was beautifully written yet again and gives readers hope that good things will come our way. So poetic, and so memorable.
A Winter Miracle
Back to the longer stories now, and this time, we see the past and present of one particular character as we learn about their life. Again, there are links to the previous story and characters which worked well, and really gave these stories depth and further meaning. Life lessons are very apparent in this story, and it not only teaches the characters about the way they live their lives, but it really made me think about my own, too. This story was romantic, but also heartbreaking too as we learn about the character’s lives, how their relationship blossomed, and where they are in their lives at present. However, one of the characters in this story isn’t being entirely truthful. With a lot left to our imaginations, we can only think about what the outcome will be, and if this truth will ever be revealed.
A Conversation Of Four
This one was one of my favourites within book two! Our main character in this story holds a conversation with others. Whether these were actual people or they were just the voices of Love, Hope and Agony in her head, I wasn’t sure, but I really enjoyed the angle the author took with this one. Together, talks of feelings and why our main character, Karen, feels the way she does about certain things goes ahead, and we really understand the internal battles she is facing with herself. I found this story very powerful and memorable for so many reasons – another of my favourites in the collection!
The Mind OF Lucian Frye & The Soul Of Scott Wendall
These two stories were a kind of reply to the previous story, with new characters such as Death, Sorrow and Suicide introduced. It explores the mind of those who are battling with their inner demons, tired and losing hope that all will be well again. We read about different dilemmas these characters have to go through and learn how they weigh up the pros and cons of their actions. These thought processes bring us to a conclusion, and I very much enjoyed how the characters reached it! A very unique angle to take with these, and I really enjoyed everything they offered.
My Dear Malvinia
This story felt personal, like the character speaking, Scott Wendall, was giving us a life lesson or a lecture on doing good in the world and overcoming our struggles. I felt like the way the author has written this one could help many people struggling, and it could definitely become a useful tool in bettering oneself and climbing out of a dark place in life. The letter-like nature of this story made it easy to read and understand, and I found myself making mental notes and filling my mind with positivity. Again, I loved the links with other stories, and this theme throughout really solidified my confidence in the author.
Ms. Rosaline’s Dream (and beyond)
After reading the final few stories within book two, I felt the need to write about them collectively seeing as the linking between them was getting more apparent. From letters between one character and another, to expressing feelings about multiple topics, the final few stories felt somewhat like closure and reassurance. There was also a beautiful poem in the mix, which was a nice addition! However, it did take a great deal of thought to keep track of these stories and to understand their contents, and I did have to go back and read a few parts again. Overall, a very powerful book with meaning and lessons all the way through. Very impressive in my eyes! I was curious to see how book three would compare.
Book 3: Kaya: Where Have You Gone?
The final book in the Cycles Of The Phoenix Collection was ‘dedicated to sexually assaulted children, misunderstood melancholic beings, and the vanished souls.” I knew this particular book would be deeper and more challenging to read than the rest due to the serious nature of abuse, so I wanted to review this one as a whole. The separate stories in this book seemed to tell the story over time, covering months into the past. The beginning of this book told the story between a mother and daughter which felt so magical. Their relationship was so strong, yet there was something painful the mother was hiding from her daughter. We could easily sense this, and I felt curious to know what was troubling her.
We soon come to realise that Yu-Ri’s daughter goes missing, which broke my heart. This is where we travel back in time to learn more about her daughter, Kaya’s past. We learn how she coped during school and in her family life. Some things seemed normal on the surface, but everyone knows that this doesn’t mean they are living the best life they possibly can. The author has crafted this book particularly well, and I really liked the mix of genres in here. There were detailed descriptions of sexual abuse in the story, so something to be aware of before you begin reading. The story was sickening, but also needed to be told to make readers aware that these kinds of acts are happening around the world, and to make people understand just how unacceptable it is.
However, the story wasn’t all doom and gloom, we get some good news, which makes a pleasant change to the unacceptable actions of Kaya’s Uncle. Despite this, Kaya is still being haunted by the things he used to say to her, and the possibility that no one would believe what happened to her if she told anyone. The author has gone through Kaya’s story in detail, explaining why things happened the way they did. The creation of the backstory has been done incredibly well and this one made for really impressive reading!
If you have the time to get your teeth into a more challenging read, then I urge you to try this book! It definitely exceeded my expectations and the author’s writing style is so poetic and beautiful, very unique and something quite different to what I’m used to. Each book in the collection has deep meaning and is filled with important life lessons too. The collection covers so many genres and there is definitely something for everyone!
Big thanks to the author, C.A. Nicholas for my copy of the book to read and review! You can purchase your own copy of the book on Amazon, available on Kindle or paperback. Be sure to follow the author over on Twitter and Instagram to keep up to date with his work.