ARC provided by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review
Series: Rule, #1
Author: Ellen Goodlett
Genre: YA fantasy
Publication Date: September 11, 2018
My Rating: ★★★★
Three girls with three deadly secrets. Only one can wear the crown.
The king is dying, his heir has just been murdered, and rebellion brews in the east. But the kingdom of Kolonya and the outer Reaches has one last option before it descends into leaderless chaos.
Or rather, three unexpected options.
Zofi has spent her entire life trekking through the outer Reaches with her band of Travelers. She would do anything to protect the band, her family. But no one can ever find out how far she’s already gone.
Akeylah was raised in the Eastern Reach, surrounded by whispers of rebellion and abused by her father. Desperate to escape, she makes a decision that threatens the whole kingdom.
Ren grew up in Kolonya, serving as a lady’s maid and scheming her way out of the servants’ chambers. But one such plot could get her hung for treason if anyone ever discovers what she’s done.
When the king summons the girls, they arrive expecting arrest or even execution. Instead they learn the truth: they are his illegitimate daughters, and one must become his new heir. But someone in Kolonya knows their secrets, and that someone will stop at nothing to keep the sisters from their destiny… to rule.
Magic, mystery, and blackmail abound in this sensational and striking fantasy debut.
My heart is still racing after finishing Rule just moments ago. When Little, Brown said this book is “Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars with a dash of King Lear” — they are NOT kidding. That was one wild ride!
Usually when the synopsis on the back of a book says the characters hold some deadly secrets, I just shrug that off and don’t think too deeply into it. But, this? Wow. I was blown away by how legitimately chilling these secrets were, and how much they seamlessly wove into the plot.
Rule is told in three alternating POV’s and tells the story of three girls who, unbeknownst to them, are the illegitimate children of King Andros. King Andros is dying and he needs an heir to rule Kolonya. Two of the girls, Zofi and Akeylah, come from different regions, while Florencia (Ren) already lives in the palace as a maid. Once the sisters learn about their lineage, they are told that only one will be chosen to rule. Thus, they begin lessons on combat, politics, and honing special powers known as tithes.
Of course, nothing goes smoothly because a mysterious person is blackmailing each girl, threatening to expose their deepest, darkest secrets.
But even though these girls are under so much pressure and scared of what lies ahead for them, they are so strong and fierce. They carry so much weight on their shoulders, have their own demons to deal with, yet not once did they complain or whine. I admired them so much — I can’t choose a favorite sister. All three sisters have traits that speak to my heart.
I also love the cultural diversity rep in this book. The entire cast is POC and there is w/w romance. There is also a tiny bit of insta-love, but it was so swoon-worthy and worked for me. Themes of racism and prejudice are also very prominent throughout the entire book and it reflects so much of what we still have going on today in our world.
And while I felt like there were some loose ends that didn’t get answered, I wholeheartedly enjoyed this book so much. It had amazing world building, dark politics, morally grey characters, POC and LGBTQIAP+ rep, strong females, and mysteries that kept me second guessing myself so many times. I am already screaming for the next book!
Thank you so much to Little, Brown/The NOVL for sending me this ARC copy. Rule releases on September 11, 2018!