by Kelly Coon
Published by Delacorte Press
Release Date: October 29th 2019
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Format Read: ARC, Paperback
The start of a fierce fantasy duology about three maidens who are chosen for their land's greatest honor...and one girl determined to save her sister from the grave.
In the walled city-state of Alu, Kammani wants nothing more than to become the accomplished healer her father used to be before her family was cast out of their privileged life in shame.
When Alu's ruler falls deathly ill, Kammani’s beautiful little sister, Nanaea, is chosen as one of three sacred maidens to join him in the afterlife. It’s an honor. A tradition. And Nanaea believes it is her chance to live an even grander life than the one that was stolen from her.
But Kammani sees the selection for what it really is—a death sentence.
Desperate to save her sister, Kammani schemes her way into the palace to heal the ruler. There she discovers more danger lurking in the sand-stone corridors than she could have ever imagined and that her own life—and heart—are at stake. But Kammani will stop at nothing to dig up the palace’s buried secrets even if it means sacrificing everything…including herself.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I. Loved. This. Book! It was so dark and had my heart absolutely racing from start to finish. Main character Kammani’s fifteen year old sister Nanaea is one of three beautiful girls chosen to accompany Lugal Marus, the leader of their city-state, into the Netherworld (aka afterlife) to be his Queen and serve him for eternity. Which means when the ailing Lugal dies, so does wonderful, bursting-with-life Nanaea. Let me tell you, Kammani is NOT HAVING THAT. An apprentice healer under the tutelage of her father, Kammani is determined to save the Lugal’s life so her sister will stay alive.
One of the main obstacles in the book is the religious zeal surrounding the Sacred Maidens. It’s seen as such a high honor for the girls chosen and they are showered with jewels and festivals to celebrate them. Don’t get me wrong, people don’t want the Lugal to die….well most people don’t anyway. And the people that DO, well, let’s just say they will do anything in their power to stop Kammani from saving him. My heart was POUNDING as she tried to stay not only one step ahead but alive! And that final climax? I was literally sweating.
I loved Kammani and Nanaea, even during the times I wanted to shake them for being so oblivious to each other’s feelings. The sibling relationships in this book are so natural and well-written. They snipe at each other one minute and then cry and hug the next like any sister would.
I really only have two things about the novel that made this a 4.5 star read instead of 5:
- The worldbuilding needed a little more. We know they live in a city-state and there are multiple gods they believe in but theres not enough information to give a concrete idea of either the political or religious system. Is it just the two gods? How many city-states are there? Feel like this will be more fleshed out in book 2 though so i’m happy to wait and see.
- I felt like it could have been a standalone and I would have been satisfied. I would have stuck around for 100 or so more pages for a final conclusion with the villains.
I want the second book right now so I can dive right in, and I know it’s gonna be a long year where I think about this book and reread it a million times! 100% recommend this book and this author and will read anything else she publishes in the future. Did I mention I loved this book??
Hi y’all, i’m Rachel! When i’m not reading or talking about books I can be found rewatching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the 72nd time, working on my own novel, cheering on JMU football (Go Dukes!) and taking advantage of all the great museums and breweries Richmond has to offer.
Check out my instagram highlights and Goodreads page for more reviews of all the books i’ve read this year!