This book was incredible, and I was completely hooked from the first chapter!
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Nothing is more important than loyalty. But what if you’ve sworn to protect the one you were born to destroy?
Tarisai has always longed for the warmth of a family. She was raised in isolation by a mysterious, often absent mother known only as The Lady. The Lady sends her to the capital of the global empire of Aritsar to compete with other children to be chosen as one of the Crown Prince’s Council of 11. If she’s picked, she’ll be joined with the other Council members through the Ray, a bond deeper than blood.
That closeness is irresistible to Tarisai, who has always wanted to belong somewhere. But The Lady has other ideas, including a magical wish that Tarisai is compelled to obey: Kill the Crown Prince once she gains his trust. Tarisai won’t stand by and become someone’s pawn—but is she strong enough to choose a different path for herself?
I completely fell in love with this book, the characters are all so interesting and I loved the African inspired world. We have mystery and magic, revenge and political intrigue and a young girl who wants to be more than who she was born to be.
The story is told from Tarisai’s point of view and I loved how she saw the world, her inquisitive mind and her moral compass and how despite what she has been commanded to do she refuses to just bow to her “fate” because she knows it is wrong. She was such an interesting complex character and I cannot wait to see more of her in the sequel, especially after that ending!
Through Tarisai we learn about the world and the other characters. Especially as she was sheltered from the world so as she is experiencing it for the first time so are we. The world is so fascinating and it loved exploring it with Tarisai. We learn about the secrets that have been haunting Tarisai and how she has spent her childhood wanting a family and people to love as her own and she finally gets that when she is meets the prince and the others in the palace. I loved the family that Tarisai found there and how much they love and care for each other. I loved the other characters too and I hope we get to see more of them and their backstories in the sequel.
This book is full of political intrigue and mystery and I loved every second of it. The friendships that Tarisai develops with the other children in the palace and how they all care so deeply for each other was so wonderful to see. I really loved how discussions on misogyny and patriarchy were woven into the story and how privilege also affects different people in the world and how those who are poor suffer.
I really loved the magic system in the book too and how people are born with a hollow with an ability and these kids can come to try to become part of the council with the prince. They become closer to each other than blood and spend their whole lives together. It was such an interesting unique concept and I loved learning about it so much! Tarisai was especially interesting because her ability made people afraid of her throughout her childhood but when she gets to the palace she is able to use her abilities to help those she loves and it was so wonderful to see that.
I really need you all to read this incredible beautiful book and meet these wonderful characters who will steal your heart. Tarisai’s moral compass in the story was so wonderful to see and how she overcomes so much even the command from her mother to gain the love of the prince and then kill him in revenge for something concerning her mother and the prince’s father. Her determination to do what is right regardless of what she has been commanded to do is a major theme throughout the book and her choices made me completely fall in love with her and she needs to be protected at all costs!
Everyone please go read this incredible book!