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.
This book sounded haunting and brutal and maybe a little terrifying. It’s about girls who given the “honor” of being buried alive with their ruler and a palace with secrets lurking around every corner. Kammani, the main character is a healer and wants to save her sister from a death sentence, while her sister wants the honor. I really enjoy sister stories and I was looking forward to seeing how this one would unfold! Trigger warnings: gore, violence, mention of rape, sexual assault (groping), grief
The writing was really spectacular. It feels sweet, easy to read, and flowy, but it was paired with a harsh world and violent scenes. I doesn’t seem like they would work together, though I found the mix to something that really worked in favor of the book. There are also adorable nicknames and sweet scenes in between ones about sickness and violence and talking about dying. I don’t how they went together so well!
I really liked Kammani. She’s confused and struggling, but she is determined to get her job done and do what she feels she needs to do. I loved that she was so adept at being a healer. I thought it was really interesting to learn about the medical side of this world. Her emotions are muddled, and she’s stubborn on a lot of things. I related a lot of something of the emotional turmoil she went through and how she thought she just didn’t know and how she just couldn’t explain sometimes. It can be frustrating from an outside perspective, since I saw things she didn’t, but it was like she was trying to make sure her and the people she loves world’s are still spinning.
Though the romantic pairing was more of a side plot, I thought it was adorable. It could have been developed more and I would have liked if Kammani looked at her feelings a bit more closely, so I could see how she really felt. Nevertheless, I’m looking forward to where this relationship could go.
Reading it, I really enjoyed the plot. I really enjoyed the mystery and everything that happened. It was full of fancy parties, healing, and sneaking around the palace. Though, once everything came to light, it felt kind of lackluster. I feel like there could have been more to it. It felt kind of easy and I honestly wasn’t shocked by the reveal. Though, I think there could be more to it and more could be revealed in the second book!
I was expecting for more focus to be on the relationship between Kammani and Nanaea, but they don’t interact too much. Though, I think it’s cool that their so solid about where they stand with each other. They love each other no matter what. If they fight, they’ll fight, but they’ll work things out. They love each other.
There are also a few things that just didn’t tie together for me. I couldn’t get a solid grasp of the geography of the palace, how it connected with the city, and who was allowed where. Certain people showed up in places I didn’t think would be possible. This could just be me missing small details that would tie things together though! There were also a few times I didn’t feel as tense as I think the situation required. I thought some things would be more dramatic than they were, so I think that’s why they fell flat for me.
I also thought some dialogue, some conversations, and how some scenes played out were kind of cheesy. I personally don’t mind that at all, I think it just made the book sweeter. When people read this a see all the harsh scenes, they’re going to think I’m nuts for calling this book sweet haha. The characters are adorable, that’s why it’s sweet!
Despite the few issues that I had, I really did love this book, this world, and the characters. I can’t wait to see the story expanded upon in the second book and see where the plot heads!
Thank you for reading!