Phoenix Overture offers existing fans a deeper insight into a favorite character and the intriguing history of Heart, while new readers will find a stunning introduction to this rich world and the romantic, captivating fantasy of the Incarnate series.
In the wilds around the Community where Sam and his family have taken shelter, life is dangerous. Dragons, trolls, centaurs, and other monsters fill the world. The word comes from the council that everyone must leave and journey to rescue their leader, Janan, who has been abducted by a mysterious new enemy in the north. Faced with overwhelming threats that bring death and destruction, Sam and the others reach the northern Range and, reunited with Janan, are given an unimaginable opportunity. Although it would give them the privilege to live and learn and love without fear, the choice is not without its own dire consequences. And lives—though not theirs—are sure to be lost. Just how much are they willing to give up to save themselves? Quoted from Goodreads
I could just quit there. Really. Much like Rae Carson's The King's Guard, this is everything I look for in a novella. First off, it's 138 pages, so you honestly do get a decent story with this one. There's enough time to really explore Sam's character and origins. Second, we see a lot of things that we don't get in Incarnate and Asunder. There is very little retelling of stuff we've already learned. Sure, we know where the book is headed. We know who Janan is and what he will become. We know Sam and Stef. But the rest of it. It's all new---so knew, in fact, that even Sam doesn't remember what happened in this book.
As for the actual plot of the book, it's it's own, heartbreaking adventure. I love seeing where Sam comes from. Sure he has thousands of lives, but the core his personality and the things that shape him are the same. We also get some of those perfect moments: the first time Sam plays the piano, the first time he shares his flute music with others, his first meeting with Stef. They're all here for us to enjoy. We also get to learn about Sam's original family. Yes, I know that's a weird sentence, but I found it fascinating.
Of course there are still unanswered questions I'm guessing Infinite will address, but the story is a perfect prequel.
So, should you read this book? Absolutely. This is an amazing series, so anything that leads you to it is worth it. Plus, if you've read the other books, it's an excellent addition to the world-building and background of the story. I'd actually read it after reading Asunder because it does have some spoilers for that book, though, because it's a prequel, I can see why you might want to read it first. And you probably could. You'd just know a few things before Ana figures them out.
This gets a strong 4 stars from me. Like I said above, Jodi Meadows writes the perfect novella. Now I have to suffer until January for Infinite to come out. At least September is an excellent month for books . . .