Release Date: Feb 14, 2017
Not all are free. Not all are equal. Not all will be saved.
Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.
A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.
Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?
A boy dreams of revolution.
Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.
And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.
He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Del Rey
That first chapter. Holy on the edge of your seat foreboding, anxiety, and all around fascination. Three hot brothers, a mysterious woman with a baby, magic…it’s compelling, gripping, you won’t want to put it down. And the personality. Each character is strong in tone and development. They almost feel like dark fae princes. If you’ve read Holly Black or Julie Kagawa, you’ll get some serious vibes here. Gavar, Jenner, and Silyen. The whole Jardine clan of men. The layers and layers of questionable morals and cold snark. The darkness within. It’s addictive. They’re the most interesting characters, no matter how intriguing Luke’s work as a rebel is. Gavar alone is like this grumbly Phantom of the Opera character meets Beast from Beauty and the Beast. Jenner is a sort of Darcy. Silyen, you want to hate him, but his story is the most versatile, interesting, and he’s so unreliable as a narrator that you’re unsure whether to trust him. He’s your epic love-hate male interest.
Luke’s story is almost on Les Mis level. Tossed into the heart of the rebellion and amongst a clandestine group of people within the working class. My Russian heart swelled at this revolutionary vibe. Luke is bumbling, he doesn’t know who he is, what he wants to be, he’s a little baby-ish and resentful as the story starts-he just wants to hang with his friends, play some football and chill, but no. Luke makes the biggest transformation in the story. His heart is full of justice and yearning, of that desperation to do right, even if it results in death. He becomes the cause and OMG does he get slaughtered for it-figuratively (no spoilers). You know in Les Mis when they sing “Red and Black” or “Do You Hear the People Sing?” That is the soundtrack to Luke’s chapters. He’s a supplanted Marius.
OMG that cliffhanger. The last few chapters of the book are jam-packed with twists that will stun and shock and turn you inside out. The predictable ones were made unpredictable because they had another level of deceit. I’ve never seen anything like it. Just when you’re nodding your head along, satisfied and sure that you had everything figured out, boom, epic level twist tacked right on. Mind blown. The ending. I can’t get over everything that happened. All the lies, the evil, the morals are tossed to the wind (not that they weren’t throughout, but these are particularly sinister and vile).
Love is everywhere. Sibling, friendship, romantic. All forms. Sometimes it’s twisted, others it’s pure and builds. There’s so much of it. Romance is subtle, but grows. The one Romeo and Juliet style romance…oh my poor little heart-obliterated. Cruel cruel story.
Some of the POVs thrown in were questionable and didn’t really seem to have a function. More than that, they threw off the whole feeling of the book. As a reader, you pause and question why these new characters are suddenly there and whether we should care or not. For the most part, it was random and jarring. These POVs that shifted from the main characters detracted from the overall tone.
This book was highly political. At its heart, it’s a story of repression, rebellion, and challenging the system through planned and exhilarating vigilante justice. Sometimes the politics were unclear, especially in terms of history, why the world is structured the way it is, and it doesn’t explain as much as it should until late in the book and from there it’s a whirlwind of explosive reveals and insanity-utter chaos to the extreme, which leads me to my next point…
Pacing. The book starts out interesting enough. It pulls you in, it keeps you going, and then there’s a major lag, which is infuriating because it should not be happening at all. There’s all sorts of crazy stuff happening-plans for fighting oppression, protests, escapes, all high adrenaline stuff, but the constant swapping POVs dimmed the tension. There’s also a lot going on, inside the magical “palace” and in the slums.
If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this: