This book was on my most-anticipated list since I first heard of it and I’ve been waiting not-so patiently for 2015 to read it. I was a little worried with all the hype around it and it being so looked forward to that it might disappoint but it didn’t, not even a little. I ended up finishing it in one sitting, not because it was a light and easy read but because I had to know what was going to happen.
I loved Mare as a character. She was willing to do anything to save her family and her best friend, which in her case meant stealing as it was the only thing she could do. Their well-being was the first thing she thought to demand when told of the King and Queen’s plan for her, after being discovered to have a power. She would have to pretend to be something she hated: a Silver. She was insecure, just wanting her parents’ approval as easily as younger sister Gisa received it. She was strong, she refused to give up even when it seemed everything was against her. She had her faults, rushing into action without thinking and she could be judgmental of the Silvers as if they were all the same: power-hungry evil.
The two princes, Cal and Maven, and their relationship with Mare was complicated. Cal, the older prince and future king, was the first to have interactions with Mare. He seemed so perfect, caring, smart, willing to lead even if it put himself in danger, but he could also be harsh and angered easily. Maven, the younger prince and the one Mare found herself engaged to as part of the King and Queen’s charade, was impossible for me not to like. Forced into his brother’s shadow, son of the evil Queen who replaced Cal’s mother, he could relate to Mare in so many ways when she opened up enough to let him. I really enjoyed the princes’ relationship as brothers, the bickering, the nicknames, it just showed how much they cared for each other in a system where one would soon be king.
There were so many great minor characters as well. Mare’s family, her mother who was just barely holding it together after being forced to send three sons to war, her father who was a recluse in their home after being injured by the same war, her little sister Gisa who was the only one in the family with a skill to get a job and who carried the family’s future on her back. Mare’s best friend Kilhorn, who she saw as almost another brother she wanted to keep safe. Lucas, her guard at the palace, and Julian, one of her tutors, showed that not all Silvers were evil and agreed with the current system. The King didn’t seem like an overly bad guy to me. I think he did care about both sons and didn’t mean to favor Cal or make Maven feel inferior but that was sadly what happened. He was never going to be the king to bring in change, it never felt that way, but in different circumstances, he probably could have been a great king to all. The Queen was just scary. She was ruthless and power-hungry and controlling. As was Evangeline, the girl chosen to be Cal’s wife, and her little group of friends. Power was definitely a game to them and they wanted more of it.
The book was very fast-paced, always something going on even if it wasn’t fighting. Mare had so much to learn, how to act like a lady as she pretended to be Silver-blooded, how to summon and control her power, how to fight with her power. It was a struggle and I enjoyed that. It wasn’t a case of her finding out about her power and suddenly being a master at it. She had to work for it. There was never really a moment to pause and catch my breath because something was always happening.
The stakes for Mare were already so high without the introduction of The Scarlet Guard, a group of red-blooded rebels who wanted to overthrow the Silver reign and have an equal society. The group was introduced early on but their impact just kept getting bigger throughout the book. For Mare, one drop of her red blood would ruin everything.
There were so many twists, especially as the action picked up in the last third of the book. I don’t want to say too much about them so as not to give anything away but some made me happy and some had me hoping there were more twists to come.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.