My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Received: Hachette Book Group Canada
Published: July 2018
Publisher: Little, Brown BFYR
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Feminism, Sisterhood, Action, Rebellion
In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison. Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace – someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding. Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.
I did not think I would finish this book—it recycles so much from previously written fantasy books that I was certain it would bore me to death.
But, to my surprise, it ended up not being too mediocre.
That’s mostly because of the character and story developments. Nomi and Serina are two sisters who were supposed to be together—Serina as a Grace and Nomi as her handmaiden—but Nomi was chosen by the crown prince as one of his girls instead of Serina, who was sent to die, basically.
When the sisters are together, little is happening. But the moment they are thrown into unfamiliar situations, things start to pick up. Seeing these two women negotiate with their new environments provided me with some kind of entertainment and added more originality to the story.
But this is, by no means, a unique tale. Women forbidden from reading and writing? Oppressed? Treated like sex objects? Constantly belittled, manipulated, mistreated, ordered around, criticized…?
Yeah, that’s nothing new. Seed of rebellion planted in the minds of the two leading ladies? Yeah, I HOPE so. I think this book would have surprised me more if Nomi and Serina HADN’T decided to shake things up in their patriarchal society. But, well, no one actually wants passive heroines and of course change is needed.
So it was readable, but average. The writing is dry, the secondary characters astonishingly unmemorable, the pacing so-so and the heroines still have a lot to learn. But I did enjoy the life at court, life on Mountain Ruin, Serina’s newfound spunk, and the intensity that could be found in the second half of the book.
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