Anya Katsukova is a passionate young physician in training who thinks only of her work—at least until a mysterious stranger is found half-dead in the woods. When a horrific plague follows on his heels, Anya must rely not only on science, but also learn the spiritual mysteries of her world, to save the people who rely on her.
Sarah Ellerton's The Phoenix Requiem is set in the quiet town of Esk, where Anya serves as a nurse, apprenticed to a physician who works her to the bone, but sees her potential as a doctor. Although she's the daughter of foreign parents and was raised in a much larger city, Anya has found a home in Esk, and has grown close to Petria, a tomboyish dilettante with a fondness for men's clothes, and Robyn, a former soldier who secretly sees ghosts. But their relatively peaceful lives are disrupted when Jonas Faulkner, a handsome stranger with a mysterious past, collapses on the outskirts of town.
Jonas is charming and jovial, and seems to be the only person who can distract Anya from her work. But he's also a widower with a tragic history, and certain aspects of his past don't quite add up.
This set-up, combined with the Victorian-inspired setting, seems like the perfect introduction to a Gothic ghost story, but The Phoenix Requiem goes in a rather different direction. A gruesome plague invades Esk, killing its residents painfully and rapidly. Neither Anya nor the town's doctor can determine a cause, and it becomes increasingly clear that it is somehow connected to the souls of the restless dead—and to Jonas himself. Anya must help Jonas piece together the lost pieces of his past and learn the truth behind the local myths about ghosts, angelic spirits, and demons. But the plague isn't the only threat, and the other denizens of Esk must learn to defend themselves against the increasingly monstrous forces of the dead.
But even as The Phoenix Requiem begins to host action-packed scenes of ordinary people facing dreadful monsters, it is, at its heart, a supernatural romance between two people who feel a deep responsibility to the larger world. And the metaphysical mysteries that surround their relationship may have more profound consequences—for the living and the dead—than either of them could have ever imagined.