Author: Ellen Goodlett
Pub. Date: September 11th. 2018
Genre: YA FANTASY
Publisher: Little Brown Books
🐉 ARC provided by Publisher in exchange for an honest review 🐉
” Family is the bond that holds the Reaches together. but to be a part of my family is as much a curse as it is a blessing”
Early reviewers have pegged RULE as a blend of Three Dark Crowns meets Pretty Little Liars, I can only speak on the latter to say that it absolutely has the PLL feel. RULE tells the story of a dying King who has just lost his only son & heir to what is believed to be a murderous act by Travelers. He has three illegitimate daughters walking different paths of life that he calls to the Kingdom. None of them know why they are being summoned or their relation to the King. All three have had tough lives but have the wits & cunning to get by. It is the Kings hope to have all three trained & that by the end of their training, he will have chosen one to rule the people of Kolonya. The problem is, the King isn’t the only one to have harbored a secret. Each one of his daughters carries within, dark secrets that in some way or another trace back to the King/Kingdom. Once they are made aware of their lineage and purpose, the daughters all have very different feelings about what is expected of them. With their identities revealed all of their secrets are in danger of being exposed. The sisters soon learn there is someone with knowledge of what they have hidden, set on blackmailing them.
We also learn that in this world there is blood magic aka The Blood Arts that a person can access within themselves by “Tithing.” The process of tithing requires that one cut themselves and in a rather vague/unexplained way, get in tune with the blood running through their veins. Those that can achieve this can heighten their senses and magical abilities. The concept & secrets the sisters were keeping were hella intriguing & dark! The magic system however was very undefined and the rules briefly mentioned to an extent. I ended up having more questions than answers with regards to who or if everyone had access to blood magic. We got some clarification on the darker parts of the magic system with regards to The Vulgar Arts aka the act of Titheing into someone in your own lineage/relative with dark intentions. In this world, The Vulgar Arts is considered the worse of crimes punishable by death. Besides the vague magic system breakdown, I wasn’t comfortable with the imagery I got of seeing one cut into themselves to tap into their abilities.
The books is told in multiple POV, each sister alternates telling their story from the point they get summoned to the castle. All have lived very different lives & I did end up really enjoying one more than the others…
Content Warnings: Self harm, abduction, death, murder, physical & verbal abuse
“Bloody seed beget bloody crops, What you curse comes back to haunt, And if the family blood you taint, You seal your own bloody fate”
Akeylah This character is very introverted & IMO carries the darkest secret between the three. She’s had to deal with the verbal & physical abuse from a father who blames her for the death of her mother at childbirth. Akeylah finds love (possibly lust #jussayin) in the castle but I can’t say I was with that ship…I’m all for f/f romance but there it just felt odd having it be between Akeylah & her stepmother aka the Queen.
Zofi Started off being. my favorite of the three, she’s a Traveler and that means she pretty much lives a Gypsy-like lifestyle. She’s very protective of her people & would like nothing more than return to them and forget all this business that ties her to the Kingdom. Zofi is a bit rough around the edges but eventually comes around & sees the benefits of her position and how best to wield it to help her people. Zofi is also the only one of the three who has able to tap into her magical abilities. She actively tithes and uses her abilities whenever necessary. Her secret also traces back to the Kingdom, similar to Akhelyas.
Ren a maid in the Kingdom who one day learns her fortune has turned for the better. Ren is savy & is basically this kingdom’s Varys (Game of Thrones reference), she’s not the one to be mistreated based on her position in life. Ren knows who is sleeping with who in the Kingdom, there isn’t anything that happens in the castle that she is unaware of. I LOVE how Ren’s mind works, she knows the elite like the back of her hand and being able to stand above them now puts her at an advantage. She may be in competition with her siblings for the position as heir but that doesn’t sop her from telling them they need to accept their new roles & shape up. Ren has been vulnerable in the past for a love that used her, the secret she carries weighs heavy on her shoulders.
I won’t deny how fast this book had me flipping pages, a part of that was me hoping against all that this wouldn’t lead me on in the same fashion as Pretty Little Liars. I felt like the mouse chasing the cheese but nonetheless I went for the ride after all, secrets as dark as these I haven’t come across in any YA books I’ve read. Ultimately, I really wished the world building was more fleshed out & better constructed. Fantasy is my genre of preference & so it’s no surprise that I wanted to understand the magic system better, it’s rules & consequences as well as (if any) the various abilities. Lastly, I wasn’t a fan of being led till the very end by the blackmailer plot line. I understand setting up the story arc for the next book, it just felt like for the climax being built that we should’ve had some sort of resolution for act I. RULE is a very entertaining read but possibly may not have been the read for me. If you’re a fan of Pretty Little Liars or Three Dark Crowns, this may be the book for you 🖤👑🖤
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