Review: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)

Title: City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1)
Author: Cassandra Clare
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 27, 2007
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When fifteen-year-old Clary Fray heads out to the Pandemonium Club in New York City, she hardly expects to witness a murder― much less a murder committed by three teenagers covered with strange tattoos and brandishing bizarre weapons. Then the body disappears into thin air. It’s hard to call the police when the murderers are invisible to everyone else and when there is nothing―not even a smear of blood―to show that a boy has died. Or was he a boy?

This is Clary’s first meeting with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the earth of demons. It’s also her first encounter with Jace, a Shadowhunter who looks a little like an angel and acts a lot like a jerk. Within twenty-four hours Clary is pulled into Jace’s world with a vengeance when her mother disappears and Clary herself is attacked by a demon. But why would demons be interested in ordinary mundanes like Clary and her mother? And how did Clary suddenly get the Sight? The Shadowhunters would like to know…

Review:

When Clary Fray goes to an all-ages nightclub in New York City with her best friend, she witnesses a murder of a teenager by three other teens. However, her best friend Simon couldn’t see them. One of the teens, Jace, finds Clary the next day and brings her into the world of the shadowhunters, who hunt demons. Clary becomes personally involved in the lives of the shadowhunters when her mother disappears after being attacked by demons. Clary has to find her mother, while also discovering the secrets of her past.

I had been holding off on reading this series, because I knew I would love it and would have to read it all immediately once I started. I was sucked into this world right away. I loved that there were so many different creatures all in one world, including vampires, werewolves, and warlocks. They had a wide range of powers, but they all fit into the world.

The twists and big reveals in the story were predictable. When secrets of a character’s past were revealed, I could predict how it would affect the lives of the main characters. Even though it was predictable, I loved the storyline. I’m excited to see where it goes next!

What to read next:

City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare

Have you read City of Bones? What did you think of it?

Review: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1)

Title: The Beautiful (The Beautiful #1)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: October 8, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In 1872, New Orleans is a city ruled by the dead. But to seventeen-year-old Celine Rousseau, New Orleans provides her a refuge after she’s forced to flee her life as a dressmaker in Paris. Taken in by the sisters of the Ursuline convent along with six other girls, Celine quickly becomes enamored with the vibrant city from the music to the food to the soirées and—especially—to the danger. She soon becomes embroiled in the city’s glitzy underworld, known as La Cour des Lions, after catching the eye of the group’s leader, the enigmatic Sébastien Saint Germain. When the body of one of the girls from the convent is found in the lair of La Cour des Lions, Celine battles her attraction to him and suspicions about Sébastien’s guilt along with the shame of her own horrible secret.

When more bodies are discovered, each crime more gruesome than the last, Celine and New Orleans become gripped by the terror of a serial killer on the loose—one Celine is sure has set her in his sights . . . and who may even be the young man who has stolen her heart. As the murders continue to go unsolved, Celine takes matters into her own hands and soon uncovers something even more shocking: an age-old feud from the darkest creatures of the underworld reveals a truth about Celine she always suspected simmered just beneath the surface.

At once a sultry romance and a thrilling murder mystery, master storyteller Renée Ahdieh embarks on her most potent fantasy series yet: The Beautiful.

Review:

In 1872, Celine Rousseau moves to New Orleans after being forced to flee Paris. She moves into a convent with some other girls who have just arrived from Europe. When a wealthy woman asks Celine to create a dress for her, Celine gets involved in a secret society, causing death to those around her.

I loved this setting. Both the time period and location made it so mysterious and extravagant. This was also a time period with a lot of change in society. Celine is biracial, but she can pass for white. She notices that there are people of different races working in the city, which is something she hadn’t seen before. She commented on what a big change this was for society. It’s a shame that 150 years after this book takes place, there is still so much racial inequality.

This story was really exciting. I liked the mystery surrounding the deaths. The ending was surprising and left me with a lot of questions. I hope they will be answered in the next book.

I really enjoyed this story!

What to read next:

Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin

Grim Lovelies (Grim Lovelies #1) by Megan Shepherd

Have you read The Beautiful? What did you think of it?

Review: Sky in the Deep (Sky in the Deep #1)

Title: Sky in the Deep (Sky in the Deep #1)
Author: Adrienne Young
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 24, 2018
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago.

Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family.

She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

Review:

Eelyn is a warrior for her Aska community. She fights alongside her father in their rivalry against the Riki. When she is almost killed in a battle, she sees her dead brother among the enemies. Her father assures her that he couldn’t have been there, but when she meets her brother again on the battlefield, he takes her as a prisoner. Eelyn has to figure out how to get back to her father and how to deal with the betrayal of her brother.

This story had a Nordic setting. They were like a viking community. I’ve never read a book like this, but I learned about vikings in school, so I found it really interesting. I really liked that the women were considered warriors alongside the men in this community. In many stories set in ancient times, the women have to stay home while the men fight, leading the main female character to figure out a way to fight. However, Eelyn was able to focus on other issues, since she was already a warrior.

The story started out quite fast paced. The moments where Eelyn saw her brother on the battlefield to when she was captured happened very quickly. The story slowed down a bit once she got to her brother’s new community. However, I was pleased with the ending. I thought the next book in the series would be a continuation of this story, but it has a new plot. I’m looking forward to reading it because I loved this setting.

Thank you Wednesday Books for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

The Girl the Sea Gave Back (Sky in the Deep #2) by Adrienne Young

Other Books in the Series:

  • The Girl the Sea Gave Back

Have you read Sky in the Deep? What did you think of it?

Review: Romanov

Title: Romanov
Author: Nadine Brandes
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.
 

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are to either release the spell and deal with the consequences, or enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

Review:

When her parents and sister were sent away from her home, Anastasia’s father, the Tsar, gave her the task of smuggling a special Russian doll with a hidden spell to their new hideaway. However, the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them and he knows that Anastasia has the secret magic. Her situation is further complicated by her sudden attraction to one of the soldiers who is guarding her family. Anastasia will only be able to use the spell when the moment is right, so she has to hang onto the doll until she can save her family.

I knew of the Romanov’s before reading this book, but I didn’t know the details of what happened to them. It was a tragic story. I kept looking up the details of the real Anastasia’s life while I was reading, to find out what was fact and what was fiction. This story follows the real history of what happened to the Romanov’s quite closely.

One part that is fictional is the fantasy aspect. Anastasia wasn’t the keeper of a special spell to save her family. However, the fantasy aspects serve to fill in a gap in Anastasia’s story. Her body wasn’t discovered with her family’s bodies. There were women over the years following their death who claimed to be Anastasia. That was a fascinating story to read about! I don’t want to give anything away, but this story attempts to give an alternate history for Anastasia Romanov to account for the reason her body wasn’t buried with her family.

This was an amazing historical fantasy story!

Thank you Thomas Nelson for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

My Lady Jane (The Lady Janies #1) by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

Have you read Romanov? What did you think of it?

Review: The Egyptian Mirror

Title: The Egyptian Mirror
Author: Michael Bedard
Genre: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Publisher: Pajama Press
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 20, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Synopsis:

A darkly fantastic middle-grade mystery with the ominous atmosphere loved by fans of Jonathan Auxier and Jonathan Stroud

Thirteen-year-old Simon’s life has been knocked askew ever since his family moved into his deceased grandfather’s house. First there’s his eccentric neighbor Mr. Hawkins, who is laid up with a broken leg. Simon’s mother begins sending him over there with dinner for the elderly man, and soon Mr. Hawkins is depending on Simon to fetch old books and manuscript pages from all over his eerie, mirror-filled house. There’s one mirror in particular, an ancient Egyptian piece, that keeps showing Simon visions of a disturbing figure emerging from its depths. No one else sees the figure, though—just like they don’t see the huge, gaunt dog lurking in Mr. Hawkins’ bushes. As Simon himself becomes increasingly plagued by a mysterious illness, he is powerless to help as his neighbor descends into paranoia about dark forces encircling his house.

The terrible part is, Mr. Hawkins is right. Everything is about to get much, much worse.

Review:

Simon’s family moves into his grandfather’s old house after he passes away. When the old man across the street breaks his leg, Simon brings him food and helps him around his house. His house is filled with mirrors, because he was an archeologist who collected mirrors. Simon is fascinated with an Egyptian mirror in the house. After examining it, Simon starts seeing things that aren’t there, like a mysterious dog in the yard. He then gets an illness that confines him to his house. Simon has to figure out the mystery behind the mirror.

I love ancient Egypt, so I was so excited to read this book. There was some history of ancient Egypt in the story, but there was a lot about the history of mirrors and what they symbolize. Mirrors represent a person’s double, since it is a copy or reflection of yourself. In many cultures, mirrors are believed to capture a person’s soul when they die. That makes mirrors mysterious and dangerous objects, like in this book.

This book was very creepy and suspenseful. Mr. Hawkins was a mysterious figure at the beginning, because he seemed to have some secrets hidden in his home. His home was also full of mirrors, which sounds very creepy. The illness that Simon had was also quite mysterious. He couldn’t do anything but sleep, yet the doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. It’s scary to imagine having a mysterious illness that no one can figure out.

I really enjoyed this story.

Thank you Pajama Press for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Target Practice (Cleopatra in Space #1) by Mike Maihack

Me and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Have you read The Egyptian Mirror? What did you think of it?

Review: The Kingdom of Back

Title: The Kingdom of Back
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Source: Owlcrate
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: March 3, 2020
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu comes a historical YA fantasy about a musical prodigy and the dangerous lengths she’ll go to make history remember her—perfect for fans of Susanna Clarke and The Hazel Wood.

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart. 

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age—her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true—but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Timesbestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

Review:

Nannerl Mozart was the older sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. She was an excellent musician, but since she was a girl, she couldn’t write her own music or perform as a career, like her brother could. One day, she meets a mysterious stranger, Hyacinth, who promises to make her dream come true. If she helps Hyacinth regain his throne in the mysterious Kingdom of Back, he will make it possible for her to be a musician. However, this promise comes at a high price.

This story was based on a real history. Nannerl was the older sister of Mozart, and she was an excellent musician as a child. Since she was a girl, she wasn’t allowed to put her name on any compositions or perform past childhood. It’s scary to think about how many talented people weren’t allowed to practice their talent because of their gender, nationality, or race. I’m glad that Nannerl’s name is known now, but she could have made a contribution to the musical community if she was allowed to follow her dream.

I loved the way the fantasy was mixed into the historical narrative. The Kingdom of Back was like Narnia or Oz, because it was a magical place that the children could travel to through doorways and dreams. The Kingdom of Back is based on a story that Nannerl and Wolfgang made up. It was a great detail about their childhood that was expanded in this fantasy story.

I loved this historical fantasy novel!

What to read next:

The Mozart Girl by Barbara Nickel

The Guinevere Deception (Camelot Rising #1) by Kiersten White

Have you read The Kingdom of Back? What did you think of it?

Review: Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1)

Title: Dark Shores (Dark Shores #1)
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Teen
Source: Indigo Spring Preview 2019
Format: Paperback
Release Date: May 7, 2019
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

High seas adventure, blackmail, and meddling gods meet in Dark Shores, a thrilling first novel in a fast-paced new YA fantasy series by USA Today bestselling author Danielle L. Jensen.

In a world divided by meddlesome gods and treacherous oceans, only the Maarin possess the knowledge to cross the Endless Seas. But they have one mandate: East must never meet West.

A SAILOR WITH A WILL OF IRON

Teriana is the second mate of the Quincense and heir to the Maarin Triumvirate. Her people are born of the seas and the keepers of its secrets, but when her closest friend is forced into an unwanted betrothal, Teriana breaks her people’s mandate so her friend might escape—a choice with devastating consequences. 

A SOLDIER WITH A SECRET

Marcus is the commander of the Thirty-Seventh, the notorious legion that has led the Celendor Empire to conquer the entire East. The legion is his family, but even they don’t know the truth he’s been hiding since childhood. It’s a secret he’ll do anything to protect, no matter how much it costs him – and the world. 

A DANGEROUS QUEST

When an Empire senator discovers the existence of the Dark Shores, he captures Teriana’s crew and threatens to reveal Marcus’s secret unless they sail in pursuit of conquest, forcing the two into an unlikely—and unwilling—alliance. They unite for the sake of their families, but both must decide how far they are willing to go, and how much they are willing to sacrifice.

Review:

Teriana is the daughter of the captain of an important ship belonging to the Maarins. She gave away secrets on how to communicate with the Maarin gods to her friend, when her friend’s life was threatened. When her friend gives away the secret, that there is another land across the sea called the Dark Shores, the Maarin way of life is threatened. Teriana is captured and forced to show Marcus, a soldier, the way to the Dark Shores.

Pirate stories are really popular right now in YA fiction, but this is the first one I’ve read. I really liked the action in this story. There were some battles, but the descriptions were brief so they didn’t get complicated. There was the added complication of the gods, who could affect things in their world.

Since Marcus was from the Celendor Empire, he didn’t know as much about Teriana’s way of living, and he knew nothing of the Dark Shores. We got to learn about the world along with him.

Teriana was a bit of an unreliable character, which made the story exciting. She would tell people the wrong thing, and betray the ones closest to her. Usually I don’t like characters who are untrustworthy and unreliable, but Teriana was unpredictable and kept up the tension of the story.

I really enjoyed this story! I’m excited for the next books.

Thank you Indigo Teen for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Dark Skies (Dark Shores #2) by Danielle L. Jensen

Daughter of a Pirate King (Daughter of a Pirate King #1) by Tricia Levenseller

Other Books in the Series:

  • Dark Skies

Have you read Dark Shores? What did you think of it?

Review: The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1)

Title: The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1)
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Historical Fiction
Publisher: Wednesday Book
Source: Owlcrate
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history–but only if they can stay alive.

Review:

In Paris in 1889, there are four family houses that run the city: House Kore, House Vanth, House Nyx, and the Fallen House. Only two are left standing, with House Vanth and the Fallen House having supposedly died out. Séverin knows he is the heir to House Vanth, even though he was denied that title years before. He wants to get his title back but it will take a lot of work. Him and his friends steal an artifact belonging to another House, but they get caught. They go on a mission to retrieve Séverin’s status, while also preventing their enemies from rising to power.

I loved the historical references in this book. There were some Greek mythology references within the structures of the houses. For example, they had roads named after the rivers in mythical Hades. In 1889, Paris had the Exposition Universelle, which unveiled the Eiffel Tower. Part of this story took place in the Paris Catacombs, which is a fascinating area of the city.

Though there was lots of glitz and glamour in the city, there was also a darkness as well. The exposition had a “human zoo,” called the “Negro Village,” which was exactly what it sounds like: people could go view other humans like they were animals in a zoo. This seems so absurd that it could be a highlight of an event, when it is completely offensive to treat people who look different from yourself like animals. This part of the expo didn’t play an important part in the novel, but it was mentioned. It shows the dark sides of history that aren’t usually talked about.

I love heist novels with a diverse cast, like this book. In other books, I’ve found that the action scenes can be confusing, because there is so much happening at once. This story was clear the whole time. It was very exciting at the end.

This is a great story! I’m excited for the next book in the series to come out in a couple of months.

What to read next:

Six of Crows (Six of Crows #1) by Leigh Bardugo

Grim Lovelies (Grim Lovelies #1) by Megan Shepherd

Other Books in the Series:

  • The Silvered Serpents

Have you read The Gilded Wolves? What did you think of it?

Review: Prince Freya, Vol. 1

Title: Prince Freya, Vol. 1
Author: Keiko Ishihara
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Manga
Publisher: VIZ Media
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 7, 2020
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

To save her kingdom, a simple village girl must live a royal lie.

The powerful kingdom of Sigurd has slowly been conquering all the lands that share its borders, and now it has turned its voracious attention to the small, resource-rich Tyr. Tyr cannot hope to match Sigurd in strength, so in order to survive, it must rely on the intelligence, skill and cunning of its prince and his loyal knights. But should their prince fall, so too shall Tyr…

Freya thinks of herself as a simple village girl, but her idyllic life is shattered when she is caught up in the aftermath of a treacherous Sigurdian plot. She bears a striking resemblance to her country’s beloved Prince Edvard, who lays dying from poison. Without its ruler, all of Tyr will quickly be engulfed by Sigurdian violence. Now Freya must take Prince Edvard’s place and lead his valiant knights in defending the realm!

Review:

Freya is a girl who lives in a small village with her sick mother. Her adoptive brothers work with the prince in the kingdom. They visit one day and Freya finds out that she is needed to impersonate the prince. Prince Edvard is dying and Freya looks exactly like him, so she has to become the prince. Freya has to leave her own life behind and transform into Prince Edvard.

This story was fast paced. I found that there was so much happening that it was difficult to process the information. Even the characters had to move along quickly to new changes, without really thinking about what happened. There were deaths and changes, like Freya becoming the prince, which they didn’t really have time to think about.

There wasn’t enough background on the story. I had so many questions about the world and the history of the characters that weren’t answered. We didn’t find out much about Prince Edvard and why they would need Freya, a country girl, to impersonate a prince who was dying. There wasn’t a reason that a young girl looked exactly like the prince, enough to be able to fool all of his friends. This background information wasn’t given, so I was left with a lot of questions about the story.

Freya was also an unlikeable character. She cried constantly. The other characters even told her to stop crying because people would guess that she wasn’t the prince. The way she was always crying and whining made me question again why she was chosen to impersonate the prince, since she didn’t behave like him at all.

This story was a little disappointing and cheesy. I don’t think I’ll be continue with this series.

Thank you VIZ Media for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

What to read next:

Not Your Idol, Vol. 1 by Aoi Makino

Have you read Prince Freya, Vol. 1? What did you think of it?

Review: The Betrothed (The Betrothed #1)

Title: The Betrothed (The Betrothed #1)
Author: Kiera Cass
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 5, 2020
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

When King Jameson declares his love for Lady Hollis Brite, Hollis is shocked—and thrilled. After all, she’s grown up at Keresken Castle, vying for the king’s attention alongside other daughters of the nobility. Capturing his heart is a dream come true.

But Hollis soon realizes that falling in love with a king and being crowned queen may not be the happily ever after she thought it would be. And when she meets a commoner with the mysterious power to see right into her heart, she finds that the future she really wants is one that she never thought to imagine. 

Review:

Hollis Brite lives at the palace in Coroa with her family. The young King Jameson starts paying attention to her, leading to a courtship. Their relationship escalates quickly when the king of their neighbouring country, Isolte, comes to visit. Hollis has to step into the role as queen beside Jameson. This visit coincides with an aristocratic family from Isolte moving to Coroa as refugees. As Hollis learns more about her future position as queen, she wonders if it is the right path for her.

Hollis was driving me crazy throughout this story. She made so many decisions that I didn’t agree with. She also made snap decisions on big life changes, which affected her own life and everyone around her. I didn’t agree with her, but I had to keep reading to find out the outcome of her decisions.

I flew through this story! It was very fast paced. Hollis’s relationship with Jameson progressed quickly in a whirlwind. The story ended in a big bang, which left me wondering where Hollis’s story is going to go in the next book.

This was an exciting start to this new series!

What to read next:

The Selection (The Selection #1) by Kiera Cass

The Siren by Kiera Cass

Have you read The Betrothed? What did you think of it?