Most people think the fae are gone. Most people are wrong.

Owen Williams wakes after a horrific car accident to find his wife is dead—and somehow turned into a gryphon—and his kids gone after a home invasion turned horribly wrong. Shattered and reeling, he vows to do whatever it takes to find them.

When a fae scout appears and promises to reunite him with his kids, he doesn’t hesitate before joining her. But she warns him that if he wants to protect his family, he must follow the fae to their city, the hidden haven of Tearmann.

With enemies on the horizon, Owen needs to set aside his fears and take up arms to defend their new home alongside the people he’s always been taught were monsters—or he’ll lose everyone he’s trying to protect.

The Review

Haven is a beautiful story of family, change, belonging, and magic, built on a kind of realism not commonly seen in fantasy.

Haven follows Owen Williams, a human in a world where people with the right (or, by most standards, wrong) genes transform into magical, mythological species termed as fae. When a car crash kills Owen’s wife, revealing her as a Gryphon, Owen must flee with their five kids to a haven for the ostracized fae, where they might be safe should they start turning into fae themselves. But there are people who want even this one-of-a-kind haven gone for good…

The heart of Haven comes in the form of its family dynamics. It’s so rare to find large families featured in fantasy, particularly ones that so closely resemble our usual, real life familial interactions. Haven explores these kinds of relatable relationships throughout the magic and drama of a world so unlike our own, using the magical setting to delve into them in ways that regular contemporary fiction doesn’t have the option.

Outside of the Williams family, Haven introduces us to a range of fun and interesting (and downright genuine) characters, who each seem to have their own inner worlds and lives going on behind the scenes. So many new characters can sometimes feel overwhelming, (I’ve never been good at remembering names…) but they add a real feeling of life to the world, turning it from an interesting setting to a lived-in place that breathes and laughs and cries. Through these side characters, we also get to explore a wider variety of interesting mythological species. We see the ways in which this world has pushed these “unwanted” and feared groups out and how they’ve worked so hard to establish a place made by themselves, for themselves. It becomes a lovely and heart wrenching metaphor for all the undesirables our real world has tried push to the sidelines.

Since the story opens to such a fast-paced segment in a complex world and nothing is ever force-fed but rather relayed over multiple, realistic conversations, it does take a while for all the world building come together fully. Once it does, though, all the little details craft a wonderfully full and vibrant contemporary fantasy world that takes aspects of myths we’re all familiar with and uses them to create something brand new. (I guarantee however many mythological reimaginings you’ve read, you’ll still find something unique here!)

Overall, this is a world-building and family-relationships heavy story that feels very much like what you’d find if you took a family-oriented contemporary and placed it smack dab into a fantasy setting with a slice of war thrown in toward the end. It’s fun and sweet but doesn’t shy away from tragedy or hardship. So, if you’re looking for more big family dynamics with a dose of imagination and magic, look no further than Haven.

NOTE: This book has content warnings for child death. 

About the Reviewer

Danny Bryn is a queer, disabled, non-binary speculative fiction author of the liberal Jesus-freak variety. When not writing, they conduct infectious disease surveillance in their hometown of San Diego, where they enjoy basking in the Santa Ana winds, hiking the brush-heavy slopes, and eating too many tacos.


About Once Stolen (These Treacherous Tides #1)

No one with half a brain would rob the jungle’s most notorious energy cartel. The vibrations of their power-producing stones are the only thing that calms the mer-snake Cacao’s agonizing sensory condition though—and after being banished from his homeland swamps for similar thefts, he’s desperate.

When his attempt fails stunningly, a chaotic escape leaves him chained to a cartel prisoner: a self-proclaimed hero with a hidden stash of power stones so large, Cacao would never need to steal again. He’s determined to get his hands on it, even if it means guiding her home straight through the mist-laden and monster-filled swamp that exhaled him, with scheming poachers and a desperate cartel leader on their tail.

But the selfish and the self-righteous can only flee together for so long before something snaps…

Return to Our Bloody Pearl’s steampunk-inspired world of merfolk in this fun, fast-paced adventure with a hate-to-love romance, a boat-load of sass, and even more heart.