Fantasy novel Stealing Phoenix (2011) is the second instalment to the fictional series of Finding Sky (2010).
Stealing Phoenix is a brilliant sequel this time set in London, following 17-year-old expert thief, Phoenix Corrigan - otherwise known as Phee - trapped in a community of thieving, murderous savants, with no way to escape.
Phee has only ever known the community as a way of life, thinking that no one with her abilities could live a normal life. Her journey of travelling around with this group of savants has been a tough one with her mother dying when she was young and her having to steal so she can continue living with these people. Meanwhile, her life is also being dominated by the ruler of the community, known as the Seer - a man to be feared and respected. With powers to control your mind and make you do whatever he wants - even to kill yourself - he is not a man to be messed with.
Phoenix's life gets intertwined with 17-year-old Benedict brother Yves, when she is on a mission to steal from him, on orders of the Seer. Yves is sensitive, caring and smart, a boy who has been bought up to be hardworking, sensible and fair - but everything he has been bought up to know is going to be put to the test when he has to win Phee over. These two characters are complete and utter opposites and clash often, yet they are perfect for each other. However, life is not all plain sailing when Phee has responsibilities and ties to the community and struggles to escape from her old life.
We also see more of the comical brother Xavier Benedict (Xav) who is staying in London with his younger brother, often making jokes and remarks. Despite his jokey attitude though, we also notice how the lack of a soulmate is upsetting him.
This fun story is a captivating read, with danger being thrown into the midst, among the romance and jokes. I always love how Joss Stirling makes fun of both English and American phases and words whether it is Yves not understanding what "Rosie Lee" is or Sky and Phee laughing at how Mrs Benedict calls trousers "pants".
I enjoyed how both of the main characters have such diverse backgrounds - Yves having had the opportunity to have a proper educated background of school and college, being surrounded by friends and family, unlike Phee who only has one friend in her community, who has no family and who never got the chance to go to school, so had to educate herself by sneaking into the library and learning what she could from her surroundings. Both of these characters gradually influence the other as the story progresses - Phee becoming more caring and trusting of her new found friends and family, while Yves becomes more of a risk taker.
In this beautiful story, Joss Stirling casts a greater understanding on the powerful bond between soulmates, as we learn from Yves, that no danger is too great that he would leave his soulfinder behind. However, this leaves the question open that when Yves runs head first into danger, could it put not only him, but his family at risk?
What is perfect about these series of books, is that the story, although it is a fantasy, it isn't too far-fetched - I read these books wishing they were reality and believing that they quite possibly could be. Who knows what extraordinary things are lurking around the corners of the world?
This is the perfect follow on story to Finding Sky with fantastic plot turns, by the end of the story I was completely and utterly in love. I would recommend all lovers of fantasy and romance to read this novel! Looking forward to reading Burning Yves (2015), the companion novella to Stealing Phoenix in Yves' view.