Fox and Phoenix by Beth Bernobich

Fox and Phoenix is the tale of Kai, who receives a quest from the dying King’s lead guard, the King of the Ghost Dragons, to go find the princess, who is studying in a faraway land, and bring her back to Lóng City.

Lóng City is a magical kingdom where Kai is known as Prince of the Streets. Of course, he isn’t really a prince, or even treated as one. The only thing prince-like about Kai is that he’s friends with Princess Lian, who is studying at a university in Phoenix City, a neighboring kingdom.

In Lóng City, rumors are spreading that the king is on his death bed, with only months, if that, to live. Which means, of course, that Princess Lian should be coming home, right? The only problem is that the princess hasn’t been responding to any of the messages sent to her.

Right after Kai’s mother mysteriously disappears, the King of the Ghost Dragons (the Ghost Dragons guard the city) appears to him and gives him a quest: Travel to Phoenix City and bring the princess home.

And so Kai, along with his spirit animal, Chen, sets off to do just that.

Although Fox and Phoenix is obviously directed towards a slightly younger age, when I received it and read the back, I was instantly excited to open it up. Fantasy can be a great thing, allowing readers to escape into another world where magic is possible—but only if it’s written well. Sadly, I didn’t even get my entire foot onto the streets of Lóng City. While the entire world seemed amazing, with magic flux running throughout , I never really thought to myself, “Golly, wouldn’t it be amazing to live there?” (And yes, I do say “golly” in real life.)

Everything we learn about the world of Fox and Phoenix is either a massive info dump or leaves readers craving more details. The details are never perfectly sprinkled in, which is disappointing because it is the details that make a world come to life. About half of the book is just dialogue, making the readers guess at what the characters are doing and where they’re doing it, and the other half describes every wrinkle on Kai’s forehead in far too much detail.

Fox and Phoenix definitely left me craving more, but not in a good way. More like in a Please-Explain-What’s-Going-On way. Honestly, the story is a good one, but the telling of it left me disappointed. I give it two out of five stars, on strength of the plot alone.

 

Frankie, or “thefrankie,” has been called weird but thinks original is a much better word. She’s fifteen, and (obviously) a writer. She’s been telling stories since she was three, writing since she first learned to, and wanting to be an author since Kindergarten. Her other hobbies are running, playing handbells, singing loudly off-key, taking pictures of exploded fruits (exploded watermelons are actually very cool), playing with play-doh, and hanging out on figment! 

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