The Phoenix Keeper

Orbit. Aug. 2024. 496p. ISBN 9780316573092. pap. $19.99. FANTASY
DEBUT Phoenix keeper Aila is devoted to saving the endangered species. When a breeding pair is stolen from a neighboring zoo, she gets her chance to raise the next generation. Through that process, she finds within the strength to overcome her innate shyness and reticence to talk in front of other people—which become clear problems when she becomes the face of the beloved, magical birds. MacLean sets her debut in the enchanting San Tamculo Zoo, home of unicorns, griffins, dragons, and more. The details that she works into the zoo, about its operation and animals, will carry readers through the plot as Aila comes into her own—navigating friendships, her relationship with a fellow zookeeper, and the initially unwanted attentions of a long-standing rival—on top of the travails of getting the phoenixes to breed and the danger that criminals will try to steal her birds.
VERDICT MacLean has crafted a lovely sojourn in a magical world that feels both familiar and wondrous. This mix of zoology, fantasy, and sapphic romance will have readers wishing they could buy a ticket to San Tamculo.
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