Genre: Young adult fantasy
Synopsis: Ten years ago, a plague decimated the land. Most of the plague survivors were children, and many of those were scarred afterwards. Of the scarred survivors, some developed powers. The crown views this as an abomination, and has authorized the Inquisition Axis to hunt these people down.
Adelina has long known that she had been scarred by her illness, and that it changed her life. But she did not know that she was one of the powered. When her abilities manifest, she is caught between the Dagger Society–a group of powered teenagers with their own agenda–and the Inquisition Axis, who think of her existence as an abomination.
Series: First book. Can stand alone.
POV: First person
Romance: Depends on your definition of romance.
Preview: Here. Don’t read the author’s quote if you don’t want to know what the story’s going for ahead of time.
Um, wow. The story here is about our protagonist plunging into darkness, and finding out who she is when she emerges on the other side.
Adelina has a lot of ugly thoughts, though she’s unusually perceptive about the ugliness of her own feelings–I imagine it’s more common for people to rationalize away that kind of thing. It’s unfortunate that the people around her continually push her into tapping into her negativity. They want her to access her hatred and anger, to tap into the power that it evokes. And she does, and the results have…consequences.
I loved how Adelina was not a typical recruit. It’s pretty hilarious, in a genre where joining an organization of powerful youths is not uncommon, to see one of the recruiters learning about his charge react like, ‘uh, maybe I should be backing away slowly…’ Not that most of the other characters in the book are functional or anything. So at least Adelina’s in good company.
Also refreshing, is that Adelina is scarred, which we don’t see too often with female protagonists.
The other characters were really cool, and often not who I expected them to be. But there’s not a lot I can say without going into spoiler territory. Because only towards the end did I even realize that this entire story is not the story I thought it was. I won’t go into detail on anything (though it doesn’t seem to be much of a secret–it’s in the article I linked to that excerpts the first chapter above), but it’s really cool.
I recommend it anyone who isn’t too attached to overly happy endings.
The setting is inspired by Renaissance Italy. The gondolas clue us in early, suggestive of Venice. Additionally, a horse race occurs which is obviously based on the palio, a tournament which happens across Italy–though I’m fairly certain not in Venice. (Where would Venice fit a horse race?) They have piazzas, which is the word much of Italy uses to refer to squares. I could go on. This is just really cool for me, as someone who’d lived four months in Italy and studied history during that time.
So I’m quite happy.
Be true to yourself, Violetta once told me when I was trying in vain to win father over. But that’s something everyone says and no one means. No one wants you to be yourself. They want you to be the version of yourself that they like.
“It is pointless to believe what you see, if you only see what you believe.”