I picked this book up at the Northern YA Lit Festival a couple months ago and I am so glad I did!
I picked it up because the cover of the ARC said: “In a world where women have no rights one wrong move could cost them their lives.” Reading that I just knew I had to pick this book up! It sounded like exactly my type of book.
And I was not disappointed! I absolutely adored this book! It’s definitely up there as one of my favourite reads of the year!
This book was also the book in the June Fairyloot box! It was an exclusive hardcover which has an absolutely stunning naked cover!
So if you don’t know what this book is about you can read the synopsis here (taken from Goodreads):
In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.
Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace–someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.
Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.
But before I even start with the book I just need to share the dedication first because well, wow! I love the dedication so much
For every woman who has been told to sit down and be quiet…and who stood up anyway.
I knew I would love this book when I read this dedication!
So as you can tell from the dedication this book is all about female empowerment and doing what is right and just. It is full of political intrigue and testing family bonds. I loved the Italian inspired world and had a historical component which made it quite realistic. It also brings in themes that women still experience worldwide today.
This book follows two sisters, Nomi and Serina who have very different views on how to survive living in a world where they have no rights. Serina believes that if she can become a Grace (similar to a concubine) then she will be able to have a good life but Nomi is the opposite, she wants more, she wants to have the ability to choose what she does in her life, to be able to read and write and not be owned by a man.
This book started in what I thought would be an obvious storyline but a plot twist that happens early on completely threw me off! I was not expecting that to happen and it made me even more intrigued as to how the story will play out. As the story progressed it made me more and more anxious for the sisters and I was wary of all the secondary characters and who to trust. There was lots of revelations at the end and betrayal and I was left an emotional wreck!
As we progress through the story we see that Nomi and Serina have both been thrown in the deep end and are having to deal with things that they know the other would be much better at dealing with. Nomi must learn to be more political and think before she speaks and Serina must learn to be more assertive and stand up for herself.
The second half of the book had me on the edge of my seat and afraid for the lives of all my favourite characters. The ending was left on a cliffhanger and I seriously need the next book right now! This book was fast paced and being able to see from both sisters points of view gave us a wider view of the world. It was interesting to see how they had to battle it out in different ways and I was really rooting for them.
I loved both Nomi and Serina they had great character development throughout the book. Serina has been told her whole life she must be obedient and polite and she has to learn to be assertive and she has to learn to say no. Nomi who has always been someone who speaks her mind and does what she thinks is right has to learn to be more controlled and think before she speaks. They both realise that the other is more suited to the position they themselves are in and so think about how the other would deal with the situation. It was really nice seeing siblings who love and care for each other. They had a real relationship where even though they get angry with each other they are still loyal and protect each other.
I also loved many of the secondary characters and I can’t wait to see how the story develops and how their stories develop in the next book. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of Malachi, Maris and Val and I feel like they will have a bigger role to play in the next book.
So as you can tell I am in love with this book and I am very much looking forward to seeing where the story will go next! It is releasing soon so there’s still time to preorder it!
If you read this book let me know what you thought!
And I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes from the book.
It isn’t a choice when you don’t have the freedom to say no. A yes doesn’t mean the same thing when it’s the only answer you’re allowed