Drama and danger abound in this fantasy realm where dukes play a game for the throne, magical warriors race to find the missing heir, and romance blossoms where it is least expected.
In a world where dukes plot their way to the throne, a Performer’s life can get tricky. And in Johanna Von Arlo’s case, it can be fatal. Expelled from her troupe after her father’s death, Johanna is forced to work for the handsome Lord Rafael DeSilva. Too bad they don’t get along. But while Johanna’s father’s death was deemed an accident, the Keepers aren’t so sure.
The Keepers, a race of people with magical abilities, are on a quest to find the princess—the same princess who is supposed to be dead and whose throne the dukes are fighting over. But they aren’t the only ones looking for her. And in the wake of their search, murdered girls keep turning up—girls who look exactly like the princess, and exactly like Johanna.
With dukes, Keepers, and a killer all after the princess, Johanna finds herself caught up in political machinations for the throne, threats on her life, and an unexpected romance that could change everything.
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. I’m not generally a huge fantasy person and the cover was a big deterrent. So I went into this with pretty low expectations. Which is usually the best way to go into anything. So maybe stop reading this review and go read the book before I get your expectations up too high.
If you’re still going to read this review despite the warning, here’s what I liked:
Johanna’s character. She never whines, never has a tell-all dramatic monologue and is generally just who she is without complaint. She accepts her circumstances and deals with it. Loved that about her. Actually, most of the characters were just likeable. I really liked how Rafi’s whole life revolved around honor. He was like a chivalrous knight. It was pleasant. And then there was Pira. I could totally relate to Pira’s hard shell and her hiding her feelings and trying to be tough all the time. And the Leao storyline was just yummy. Mmmmhm. So, yeah. Characters.
The world. So this was fantasy in some strange new world with weird geography and Lords and Masters and a Kingdom and whatnot. I usually get lost in all of that but this was pretty easy to follow. I enjoyed all the political intrigue talk and learning about this world’s customs.
No love triangle. Hallelujah! There were two completely separate romancey storylines. And they were both yummy. In completely different ways. Johanna’s love story had the strangest beginning of any romance I’ve ever read and I was skeptical of whether or not it would work out. But it did. And, to reiterate, Leao was yummy. Need more Leao.
Wallace wasn’t afraid to be brutal. There was a lot of mild grinning going on in this book but not so much laughing out loud. Which is fine, I guess, but I really appreciate humor in novels. And along with all the pleasant stuff going on there were some really dark themes floating around as well. Lots of murder and fighting and even, near the very beginning of the book, a scene in which a girl is found after she had been brutalized and murdered. Wallace handled these situations extremely well, especially since this is supposed to be a YA novel. Events were mentioned and properly handled without being graphic or gross or going for shock factor. So, yes, bad things happen but this novel didn’t dwell on them or cause me to have nightmares about all the evil in the world.
There was a lot to like. But, you know, some of the story was a bit cliche; Nothing I hadn’t heard before. Some things happened exactly as I’d expected them to. Some events, like the finding of the assassin, felt a bit too easy or forced or just too coincidental to feel real. Many secondary characters felt stereotypical or flat, but, then many beloved characters didn’t make it to the end of the book. I don’t know which is worse.
Also there’s the worst cliffhanger! Ever! Wallace literally leaves some characters hanging. And there are so many unanswered questions. Jacare’s dark history is hinted at throughout the entire book but we learn nothing about his past. Or Tex’s past, for that matter. I am definitely going to read the next book in the series and probably whatever comes after that, but I am annoyed that I have to wait for it.
So, overall, it’s a good, fun, clean read with a few dark elements. But the darkness gives it good roundness.
Sexual Content: Moderate