House of Sparrows

The Hidden Aviaries Book 1

Fiction - Fantasy - General
300 Pages
Reviewed on 09/16/2021
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I began my writing career in 2010 when I took my first creative writing class. Over the next decade, I completed many more classes and published several short stories. I live in Cheyenne, Wyoming with my husband and two cats and I enjoy outdoor activities like biking and hiking in the beautiful Rocky Mountains.

The idea for House of Sparrows came from many sources but the germ of an idea started with a discussion I had with my sister on what it would be like to have the responsibility to gather souls that chose to stay behind for one reason or another and what a great responsibility it would be and what would happen if you failed. With this idea, the protagonist, Spizella was born.

Many of the character names I chose come from the scientific or colloquial names for avian. For example, the main character, Spizella Andromeda Pusilla Rochelle, comes from field sparrow, Spizella Pusilla. Her best friend, Pica-Sonia, comes from magpie, Pica Hudsonia. The antagonist, Kamen, comes from the colloquialism Common Cardinal as a homophone. Her mentor, Tyton, comes from barn owl, Tytonidae. A second love interest who pursues her in the book, Poe, comes from the species name for chickadee, Poecile Atricapillus. And finally, Cygnus, the royal swan, comes directly from the genus.

For me, writing should be fun so I hope you enjoy this book as much as I had writing it!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

House of Sparrows is the first installment of Janice Mayo's fantasy series, The Hidden Aviaries. Spizella, tasked with procuring human souls for the House of Sparrows, finds herself conflicted when she sees a kindred spirit in her assigned soul William. Refusing to pass William's soul to Central Processing causes much distress to Spiz and William as they find themselves hunted by the Cardinals. When Poe, a Chickadee, unexpectedly shows up to rescue them, Spiz inadvertently embroils herself in a conspiracy involving the Cardinals led by Kamen, who was experimenting on Eagles, trying to convert them into Hybrid soldiers. With Queen Clara's help, Spiz and the Chickadees form a formidable resistance to Kamen's unrestrained ambition. But Spiz must learn to let go as William's soul gets increasingly consumed by revenge.

Author Janice Mayo weaves an intricate tale of romance, heartbreak, and rebellion in this entertaining fantasy odyssey featuring brave sparrows, tenacious chickadees, and haughty swans. The plot moves at a brisk pace, taking unexpected twists and turns that keep your eyes glued to the pages. There is a sense of unique authenticity to the premise that makes the story all the more compelling to read. The characters are easy to root for. They will make you laugh and, at times, even break your heart. Spizella is an immensely likable protagonist. I thoroughly enjoyed her relationship dynamic with both William and Poe. The worldbuilding felt particularly impressive to me. If you're looking for a fantasy book with a unique premise, check out House of Sparrows from The Hidden Aviaries series.

K.C. Finn

House of Sparrows is a work of fiction in the fantasy genre. It serves as the first installment of the Hidden Aviaries series. It is suitable for all ages and was penned by Janice Mayo. The book follows the journey of Spizella, who works in the House of Sparrows, where she helps souls who refuse to pass on willingly. Against all the rules, she falls for the soul of William after letting him stay when he shouldn’t. But her decision to hold on to William risks both his soul and the safety of the entire house of sparrows.

I absolutely fell in love with the world of the Hidden Aviaries, which presents a beautiful but bittersweet world alongside our own that interacts with issues we face every day, such as death and loss, while also being charmingly alien to our vision of the world. Janice Mayo’s prose brings this complex other-world to life and takes the reader along on this intense journey, especially during its darker moments. Spizella and William make for compelling leads, both with a beautifully human edge that lets us root for them but also an otherworldly quality that makes them exciting and engaging. House of Sparrows is a wonderful read for fans of the fantasy genre, with a carefully considered setting that eschews the well-known tropes and stereotypes of the genre to give us a fresh take on what fantasy stories can do for a reader. I enthusiastically recommend this book to all readers.

Vincent Dublado

House of Sparrows, the first book in The Hidden Aviaries Series by Janice Mayo is an inventive and heartwarming fantasy. You enter a world where birds are in charge of managing afterlife affairs. Spizella Andromeda Pusilla Rochelle or “Spiz” and her species have the task of assisting souls in crossing over to the afterworld. William Eduardo Compostela Estes is a philosophy professor who died in pursuit of his daughter’s murderer. He is a restless soul who wants nothing but justice for her child, and Spiz allows him to stay in the mortal realm for a while to help him. But souls who have gone rogue have expiration dates and William doesn’t have much time before his energy is spent. As Spiz grows increasingly drawn to William, she earns the scorn and displeasure of her fellow birds, for to fall in love with a human is forbidden. She has a trump card that will allow William to extend his soul’s energy but at a cost, and Spiz will face many threats in her journey to help the man she has fallen in love with.

Reading House of Sparrows made me feel that the enchantment of fantasy fiction has been restored. After reading too many fantasy tales trying to create their own paths, I entered into a world that doesn’t have to try. Two important elements stand out in Janice Mayo’s storytelling: One is that Spiz may be a bird, but she is a fully realized character who thinks independently, relying on her own judgment at the risk of being ostracized. Because she is smart and follows both her heart and mind, you will sympathize with her schemes. The second element is the plot itself: It’s creative and clever, and it involves some suspense as Spiz sacrifices a part of her to save William’s soul. The artistry of Mayo’s prose has clarity and a force that makes this fantasy love story appealing and a recommended read for everyone.

Rabia Tanveer

House of Sparrows is the first book in The Hidden Aviaries series by Janice Mayo. Spizella, a.k.a. Spiz, is a sparrow, and her whole species is responsible for helping souls cross over to the afterlife. Her job is simple; retrieve the soul and help it cross over. However, things change when she comes face to face with her new assignment. William died while looking for his daughter’s killer, and before Spiz knew it, she was emotionally attached to him. Feeling sorry for William, she allows him to stay on Earth and takes the form of a human to help him find the killer. However, it comes at a price. The longer William stays on Earth, the weaker his soul will grow and eventually fade away. But that is not all. Spiz’s growing affection for William makes her an enemy of her kind and may even start a war if she is not careful. Before she knows it, Spiz has to make a tough decision, and she does not have much time. What will Spiz do? Will she choose her happiness or set William free?

This novel is incredibly rich and original. The plot is remarkably detailed to make readers lose themselves in the story from the get-go. The emotions run high and they play an important role in the story's progress. Spiz is an emotional creature who thinks from her heart and follows it. However, she is more complex than that. She understands the consequences of her actions and how they affect not only her but William as well. There is a lot of pride involved in their story and a lot of love as well. The story is deceptively simple. It makes you think you know exactly what will happen next, but Janice Mayo surprises readers every step of the way. The dialogues between William and Spiz are heartfelt, and you can tell they mean a lot to each other. I feel Spiz’s dilemma is far more serious than William’s (maybe because William has an afterlife to think about and Spiz has to go back to her realm), but she charges through it all like a hero! House of Sparrows is a wonderful start to the series!